Does your job keep you up at night? Do you work too hard? Do you care too much? Yeah, I’ve been there.
I’ve always been a little too serious with a highly developed sense of responsibility. This trait carried over into my work in a serious way. I tried to do it all and rarely said no. I stressed myself to the point it started to affect my health. After several significant illnesses I realized something had to give- my body already was.
I made a conscious choice to stop taking work too seriously. I had to give up my inflated sense of responsibility and importance. I had to make mistakes, have fun, let go, and simply be happier at work!
What did it take to stop taking work so seriously?
Photo credit: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
I am virtually unable to be happy and stressed (or angry, or sad) at the same time. Focusing on being happy meant I felt less stress and was less likely to take every little thing that happened during the day to heart.
Being happy is easier than I thought once I stopped thinking happiness comes from the outside instead of the inside.
Be responsible for me and me only
As a manager I thought my employee’s performance was ultimately my problem. I tried directing, coaching, supporting, and delegating. If an employee didn’t live up to my expectations I was sure I was the one that failed. I made myself crazy and undoubtedly make other people a little crazy, too.
I cannot control what anyone else thinks, says, or does- that’s up to them! I can be responsible for me and me only.
Be a team player
I not only took on responsibility for my employees and co-workers, I took on responsibility for the overall business success but one player alone cannot win or lose the game. The more responsibility I accepted, the more serious I was about my work.
Seeing myself as part of the team helped me give up some of my responsibility and share it. Plus, it’s just more fun to work with others!
Ask for help
If a job was assigned to me well then I was going to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Only it turns out whatever it takes sometimes meant working myself sick. Yeah, that’s no good.
Work is less overwhelming when it’s shared so I started asking for help. The best part of asking for help wasn’t even the help I received, but the relationships I improved with the people that worked with me.
Not only did I say yes to just about every request, I volunteered to take on more without even being asked! I’m sure it’s no surprise to you I was overburdened, overworked and over-serious!
I started to say no, not only to others, but to my desire to be helpful to others all the time.
My fear of mistakes was one of the main reasons I took work too seriously- what if I screwed up? I still made mistakes and I was seriously stressed out every time I did.
When I began to accept and even embrace mistakes I stopped stressing myself out and started having more fun with my work.
Do my best and forget the rest
All I can do is my best today, and nothing more. It doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks of me, or expects of me. It doesn’t really matter what I think or expect from myself!
Since I don”t control what happens next, I’ve found it easier to focus on just doing my part. In the end all I can really do is my best.
The more I focused on goals, results, and achievements, the more seriously I took my work. I gave all of myself today for a presumed future win but it was like planting spring seeds and not watering them- with my mind always on tomorrow I wasn’t making the most of today.
Focusing on simply doing my best work for this day only made today a whole lot happier and yielded better results.
Believe in myself
Another reason I took work so seriously was because I worried what might happen if I lost my job. I tended towards worst-case-scenario thinking and imagined myself becoming homeless and living on the street. While losing everything was a possibility, it wasn’t very likely to happen. I needed to believe in myself.
I am a competent, smart, and resourceful person. When I was laid off I bounced back just fine. I didn’t end up homeless. Was losing my job difficult?- hell yeah, it was- but I got through it. Whatever happens, I’ll face it. I can do this!
If there was one underlying reason I was too serious about my work it’s because I was constantly assigning either positive or, most of the time, negative value to everyone and everything that happened at work.
Instead of doing my best with what’s in front of me I lamented and complained over every perceived injustice. I made myself miserable! I had to stop blaming everyone and everything to find some peace in my work and my life.Join the Conversation
I’m burned out. I’m exhausted, disillusioned, irritable, and depressed- all symptoms of job burnout. Here I am, writing a blog about work-life balance and my life is out of balance. How did I get here? How do I get out?
What I’ve learned from my experience with job burnout was surprising to me. I was doing all the right things to avoid job burnout. I rarely work more than 40 hours per week, I get 7-8 hours sleep every night, I take breaks, I do yoga, I go for walks every day, I practice mindfulness, I’m generally happy. Again I ask, how did I get here?
Burnout isn’t just the result of working too much. My job burnout was influenced by several factors including lack of support, lack of appreciation, mismatch with organizational values, and poor job fit.
I was in such an extreme state of chronic exhaustion I became concerned about my health, but checked out fine medically.
I found an online burnout self-test from Mind Tools and scored 66 out of 75, achieving the test result: You may be at very severe risk of burnout – do something about this urgently. “No kidding,” I thought to myself.
Despite doing all the right things to take care of myself, asking for support, and maintaining a positive attitude I couldn’t mitigate the burnout. And, let’s be honest, I wasn’t doing my best work in this situation despite working harder and harder.
Ultimately my only option to reclaim work-life balance was to resign my position, and that’s what I did.
Through this experience I learned there are many causes of burnout- some obvious and others that are less obvious. While I needed to change my situation to find relief, my efforts to manage stress did help minimize the long term effects of burnout. I was better positioned to evaluate my options and promptly make the right choices for my health and well-being.
123RF Stock Photos
Causes of Job Burnout
Lack of control
While there are many factors you can’t control in your job and in life, being unable to control, or at least influence, details of your day-to-day activities is frustrating and becomes increasingly stressful over time.
Lack of support
To succeed in your work you need basic resources such as training and functioning office equipment to do your job. You also need information about management and organizational goals, policies, and direction. Without support you are unable to be effective in your work and you may suffer burnout.
Lack of appreciation
Receiving a paycheck is effective motivation but most employees need more than monetary rewards to stay motivated- you need positive, encouraging, and thoughtful feedback.
Work values mismatch
Everyone has work values, such as helping society, making money, having the opportunity to express creativity, having flexible work hours, or having a set schedule. When your personal work values are a mismatch with the organization culture you feel dissatisfied and this mismatch can lead to burnout.
Lack of stress management
We all experience a reasonable amount of stress that can be managed through tools such as communication, self-care, and setting boundaries. If you lack the skills to manage stress, you’re likely to get burned out at work.
External pressure and stress
Managers have a significant influence on the work experience of their employees. Some examples of managers that apply significant external pressure and stress are bosses that micro-manage, are overly demanding, or bosses that are demeaning.
If your boss has unreasonable expectations or is unclear about his expectations it will cause stress. You may also have unrealistic expectations of yourself, your boss, and your organization. Unreasonable expectations may lead to burnout.
Poor job fit
Job satisfaction is significantly influenced by our day-to-day activities as much as factors like our organizational culture and management style. A good job fit is found when your daily work activities match your skills and interests.
How to Avoid Job Burnout
Do your best and forget the rest
Do your part to do a good job and let go of the aspects you can’t control. When you obsess over factors out of your control you create stress in your life. When you focus on the things you can control you’re more likely to experience personal and professional satisfaction.
Ask for what you need
You may think your boss knows what training or equipment you need to do your job effectively, and surely effective managers possess this information. It’s possible, however, your boss may lack the training he or she needs to be an effective manager. Ask for what you need and you’re more likely to get it than if you keep it to yourself and seethe quietly in resentment.
Handle feedback professionally
If you’re not getting the feedback you need, ask for it! If you are getting feedback and it’s all negative, look for ways to understand the feedback, use it to your advantage, and make improvements. If you continue to receive only negative feedback, it may be time to move on.
Find ways to manage your stress such as setting boundaries, taking breaks, getting a good night’s sleep every night, saying no, and recharging your batteries.
Improve work-life balance
Work-life balance isn’t just about the quantity of time you spend at work versus home, it’s about the quality of your time. Do more of what you love, and less of what you don’t.
Pursue other opportunities
When your job isn’t a good fit, or your work values don’t match that of your organization, you may need to pursue opportunities in another department, or another organization.
Job burnout is a serious condition that can lead to health problems such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, obesity, heart disease, and more. If you’re at risk for burnout, reassess your situation and take whatever steps are necessary to take care of you!
I love your comments! Have you experienced burnout at work? How did you handle it?
Are you feeling worn out? Burned out? Beat down? Let’s face it, sometimes life is tough. When times get tough it’s especially important to take care of ourselves.
I’ve been dealing with a particularly difficult work situation the past few months. The intellectual and situational stress of my job have taken a toll on me. I’m doing my best to take care of me but, I’ll be honest, it’s not enough. I’m suffering from job burnout. I’ve taken steps to improve my situation and in the meantime it’s more important than ever to be kind to myself.
An added benefit of being kind to myself is an increased and natural capacity to be kind to others. Don’t we all deserve a little kindness? Yes, we do!
33 Ways To Be Kind To Yourself
01. Adjust your expectations
Sometimes I need to adjust my expectations. I enjoy life more when I am mindful of what I do, not what I get. One leads to happiness and the other, more often than not, leads to frustration. I control what I do, I don’t control what happens next.
02. Let one thing go
I admit it, I care. I care about all kinds of things. Sometimes I care so much I cause myself a little bit of pain. But for all the cares I pick up throughout the day, I can always put one thing down.
03. Set boundaries
I get in trouble every time I fail to set boundaries. Without boundaries I am stressed out, burned out, and unhappy- that’s no way to live! Boundaries are the ultimate form of self-kindness. I can set boundaries any time, any day.
04. Get a good night’s sleep
I don’t know about you but I barely function without a good night’s sleep. When times are tough I need sleep more than ever! Yeah, I’ve been known to go to bed at 9pm every night. What? Girl loves her sleep!
05. Listen to music
I choose music to suit my mood- mellow, happy, relaxing, energetic- whatever I’m feeling I have a favorite track that imbues good feelings.
06. Be happy
I don’t need everything to go my way to be happy, all I need is to celebrate whatever happiness exists in this moment. I can cultivate habits of happiness that carry through to difficult days. Happiness is always there, whenever I choose to embrace it.
07. Be silly
A little silliness is the best medicine when I’m taking life too seriously. I might make run around in circles, wave my arms, do a funny dance. I can be spontaneous, be ridiculous, and just plain silly!
08. Take a nap
You already know I like my sleep, and some days being well-rested takes more than a good night’s sleep. Some days a nap is in order to get me through the day. When I nap I wake up refreshed and clear-headed.
I hold my stress in my body. My jaw clenches and my shoulders tense. Moving my body regularly breaks up the tension and provides and outlet for my stress.
I can ride my bicycle, take a walk, or dance along to a favorite tune. Exercise doesn’t have to mean going to the gym- just moving my body!
10. Know yourself
A little self-reflection goes a long way. Before I can decide what I want, what I need, or what needs to be done I must first know myself. Even just a few minutes of thoughtful mediation or journaling can give me insight into myself.
I love to read! Curling up with a good book is a wonderful reprieve from the stress of the day. Reading a favorite blog can motivate and inspire me. Not a bad way to spend a few minutes of my day.
12. Catch up with a friend
There’s nothing like catching up with a good friend- it’s good for my soul! Isolation, on the other hand, is undoubtedly bad for me.
13. Take a break
Taking a break is not only rejuvenating- I actually get more done when I take breaks than when I don’t. Plus, taking breaks is a really nice way to be nice to me!
14. Ask for what you need
I’m not a mind reader and I have to assume no else in my life is, either. Whatever I need, I have to ask for it.
I love to write! Obviously, I write this blog, right? Before I wrote this blog I kept a journal. My journal was actually my inspiration to start blogging.
It doesn’t really matter what I write, only that I get my thoughts down on paper instead of keeping them churning about in my mind.
Every day I stretch my smile, stretch my body, stretch my heart, and stretch my mind.
17. Get inspired
I try to get a little inspiration every day. Sometimes I inspire myself by writing my blog post. Other days I read something inspiring, collect inspiring quotes on Pinterest, or get out there an be inspiring.
18. Do more of what you’re good at
I do something I’m good at every day. Maybe it’s sharing a smile, helping another person, crafting, planning, organizing, giving hugs, or writing a blog post. I get energized when I do more of what I’m good at.
I’ve got to have my “me” time. I might catch up on a favorite show, re-watch an old favorite, snuggle with my dogs, snuggle with my cats, or simply do nothing at all!
20. Say no
Kindness is saying no when I want to, when I need to, and when I mean it.
Laughter is life’s best medicine for whatever ails me. When all else fails me, there’s always Grumpy Cat.
22. Eat good food
When I eat well, I feel well. Eating good food is kind to my body!
23. Accept and love yourself exactly as you are
Right here, right now, I love me just as I am today. I’m not perfect and I never will be. I’m doing the best I can in this moment and that’s enough.
24. Be gentle with yourself
I can be hard on myself but, really, that gets me nowhere good. On the other hand I make more progress when I am gentle and caring with myself.
25. Celebrate your success
Every day I muster all my awesome in whatever I do. Even better, I celebrate each day’s success- from small to big. (By the way, today I won 2nd place in my Toastmasters club International Speech Contest. Woo hoo!)
26. Say yes
Sometimes I need to say no, and sometimes I need to say yes.
27. Have fun
There’s a little fun in every day! All I have to do is enjoy it!
28. Eat ice cream
There’s nothing wrong with a little self indulgence, is there? Like the ice cream sundae I enjoyed just now. mmmmmm…!
29. Do what’s right
All I really have to do is the right thing. What’s the right thing? Well, that depends on the moment. When I take a deep breath and quiet my mind I usually know what’s right. When I focus on simply doing what’s right, everything else seems to fall into place.
30. Adjust your attitude
What I experience is up to me. When I’m struggling I can often find relief by simply adjusting my attitude. I don’t have to be stuck in negative thinking, I can choose to think positive instead.
31. Express yourself
Failing to express myself will undoubtedly cause me frustration and pain. It’s important that I’m honest about what I’m thinking and feeling.
Even though I don’t have to believe everything I think or everything I feel, it’s important to recognize those thoughts and feelings exist.
I don’t necessarily have to take action- just acknowledging and expressing myself is enough. I don’t even have to tell someone else what I’m thinking and feeling- I can write it down and put it away until later.
32. Respect yourself
I used to put other people’s opinions, needs, and expectations before my own and that way of living was quite unkind. I have to believe in myself and trust myself to live a happy life. I have to respect myself so I can be someone I’m proud of, someone I admire.
33. Try again tomorrow
Some days are difficult and it’s all I can do to somehow muddle through- that’s okay, I can try again tomorrow.Join the Conversation
Most situations in life are neutral and it is only our perception that is good or bad. There’s power in perception and you can decide what kind of day you’ll have by looking at your day the right way.
I almost had a bad day
Earlier this week I had a day that was not going smoothly. I was tired and groggy in the morning and had trouble getting going. I headed out to work a few minutes late after having to change the outfit I laid out the night before due to unexpected cold weather. A blanket of fresh snow slowed traffic considerably and I was getting later and later by the second.
When I arrived at work late, I might have qualified it as a bad day but I didn’t. I wasn’t about to have a bad day on account of a few small setbacks.
Then I really almost had a bad day
I arrived home that evening to a burst pipe and a flooded family room. Okay, now I was having a bad day- but I wasn’t, really. We were really fortunate the flooding happened in the middle of a remodel and our furniture and valuables were out of the room. The sopping carpet was the old carpet we intended to replace anyway.
I admit I felt a little bit of stress over dealing with the cleanup but the damage was really minimal. The important thing was this was a situation I could handle. It was a much bigger setback than I experienced in the morning, but it was still manageable. By putting my situation in perspective I was able to deal with the inconveniences and still have an okay day!
Image courtesy of That Girl Crystal
Is it actually a bad day or just an inconvenience
Do you get worked up over the little things like waking up late, heavy traffic, spilling coffee on your shirt? No doubt these experiences are inconvenient but are they bad? Does your entire day have to be bad because of an inconvenience? What if, instead, you saw these situations for what they are- inconveniences and just that.
When you experience inconveniences your life isn’t greatly affected- you still have your family, your job, your home. You have all the things that you have on a good day. When you change your focus from the immediate inconvenience and consider your life as a whole you may find those things that cause you to have a bad day aren’t really so bad.
Okay, but sometimes it really is a bad day
Sure, sometimes you just have a bad day and you just can’t find your perspective. It happens to me, too. When I find myself in a funk I make an effort to shake off a bad day.
When I’m really having a bad day, I love to listen to the song Bad Day by Fierce Bad Rabbit and I usually end up with a smile on my face.
“So it’s a sign today you won’t fly, your beautiful wings clipped by this life. Another day, another way, spread those wings and you’re gonna fly high. Everything will be fine. Just wait and see.” ~Fierce Bad Rabbit
The point is you don’t have to be victim of circumstance. You don’t have to buy in to the “Monday” cliche.
The kind of life you experience is up to you. You don’t have to have a bad day just because things aren’t going your way. And when you do have a bad day, because sometimes that happens, you can wake up tomorrow and have a better day.
It’s not too late to set yourself up for a great day
Why wait for a few setbacks to do damage control? I also have some tips for making every day a great day! Why not start the day right? Even if it’s the middle of the day, you can restart your day.Join the Conversation
Is worry consuming your life?
I didn’t think I worried much until I read this blog post in which the author tracked how often he worried over the course of a day. Reading his post I realized I worry more than I knew! (A lot more, in fact.)
When I worry it’s usually about a situation out of my control. I worry about the outcome. Worry is my mind’s way of trying to get control of the situation, yet worry never results in controlling life. Worry only turns my attention away from living a great life! Life’s too short to worry!
I’m challenging myself to worry less and enjoy life more. I hope you’ll join me on this challenge! Here’s how I am going to worry less:
The first step in changing any habit is being aware of when you’re doing it. As I create a worry less life, I will be mindful of my thoughts and note when I worry. It’s important not to judge myself for worrying- just to observe that it’s happening.
Is It Important?
When I notice myself worrying, I can ask myself, “how important is it really?” to determine if the concern truly needs my attention. Many of life’s problems are really not that important- certainly not important enough that it will concern me next week, next month, or next year. If it’s not important I can let it go.
What’s the best that could happen?
When I worry about big stuff I am usually positing the worst case scenario. When I choose to focus on a positive outcome over a negative outcome I relieve some of my worry and approach problems with a proactive and positive mindset.
What are my choices?
Not only do I often assume a worst case scenario, sometimes I trick myself into believing I’m stuck with whatever happens. In this situation I find it helpful to remind myself that I have choices. I choose how I act and respond. I can choose to take productive action, to do nothing, to temporarily set the problem aside and do something nice for myself, to talk it over with a trusted friend or mentor- the possibilities are endless!
Photo courtesy of ramyo
Act with intention
Instead of reacting to life I can act with intention. When I act with intention I am thoughtful about my behavior and how I can positively affect my life. I can’t control the result but I do control my actions. The best way to live a great life is not to try to force the results I want but simply act with good intention!
Learn from my mistakes
Sometimes I worry about making mistakes, even though I know mistakes are a-okay! One way to combat worry is to turn my attention from the mistake to making the best of my mistake. Life is all about learning! Take that, worry!
Reboot my day
If worry is really getting me down, I can reboot my day at any time. Taking a break is a great way to step away from the situation and come back with a renewed perspective. Some days I can’t quite seem to shake off stress and worry and that’s okay- tomorrow’s a new day!
I love your comments! What do you worry about most- the past, present ,or future? Are you going to join me in my challenge to worry less and enjoy more?Join the Conversation
When life gets busy it’s tempting to put yourself last on the priority list. Maybe you’ve got a deadline looming. Perhaps you have a family member or friend that needs your help. Maybe you’ve let something go so long it hardly seems important anymore. Perhaps you think you’ll catch up tomorrow, or whenever you finally have the time to invest in yourself.
You’ve got plenty of excuses for putting yourself last, but there are just as many good reasons to put yourself first. Here are just 5 reasons to put yourself first and reap the awesome benefits!
1. Your health depends on it.
Your physical, mental, and emotional health determines your energy, attitude, mood, and success!
Stretching yourself thin to meet a goal is counterproductive. You may meet that short term goal but you won’t achieve your long term goals if you’re not taking care of your long term health- your health, good or bad, always catches up with you.
Make your health a priority if you want to live a great life. You’ll do better, be better, and feel better!
2. Your happiness depends on it.
Happiness is a journey- not a destination.
Don’t put your happiness in tomorrow by making something more important than you today. The truth is you’re not going to be happy tomorrow if you can’t be happy today.
Do something that’s good for you each and every day- find a way to celebrate you!
3. You can’t give it away if you don’t have it.
Give to yourself first and you’ll have so much more to give to others.
When you try to give to others before yourself your energy and ability gets overdrawn and there’s a hefty overdraft fee. Whatever someone else needs from you, chances are you need it, too.
It’s okay to take care of yourself before taking care of others- in doing so you’ll show others you are responsible and trustworthy with their care.
4. You won’t enjoy what you have without it.
The best way to enjoy a great life is to take care of you.
When you put yourself last you can end up too bitter, resentful, or exhausted to enjoy any success you achieve. By putting your goals last, you diminish the value of your goals and you’re less likely to reach them.
Get the most of yourself and your life by investing in yourself first!
5. You’re worth it!
You deserve to live a great life and the only way to have it is by taking care of you!
Image courtesy of piermarioJoin the Conversation