Welcome to part two of my Overcoming Burnout series! Hopefully at this point in your burnout recovery, you’ve taken some time off or you have a few days off on the horizon. As I mentioned in part one of the Overcoming Burnout series, a little time and space is essential for clearing your head and being able to see yourself and your situation clearly. Once you have had a chance to relax and recharge, you’re ready to put together a gameplan to move you from burnt out to thriving again. And it all starts with being honest with yourself. If you’re willing to dig deep, working toward overcoming burnout by being honest with yourself is actually pretty simple once you break down the situation.
Being Honest with Yourself Can Be Hard
For me, being honest with myself was harder than I originally thought. I found that being able to clearly answer the question “What do I want?” was extremely difficult, especially when burnt out. For me, this question was overwhelming. Valid, but still overwhelming. I decided to answer it by breaking my thoughts down into little chunks, which helped tremendously.
Throughout this post, I’m going to walk you through how to create a gameplan for overcoming burnout by being honest with yourself. I’ll also be sharing questions to ask yourself to help you dig deep, along with how I broke down my burnout into three categories of questions:
- Why are you burnt out?
- Do you need a new job?
- What is your ideal outcome?
If you’re ready to be honest with yourself, grab a pen and paper and get excited for some journaling. As you answer these questions, a gameplan to get you thriving again should begin to reveal itself.
Questions to Ask Yourself
1. Why are you burnt out?
- Let’s start with the positive. What parts of your job do you enjoy?
- What parts of your job do you dislike?
- What frustrates you?
- Do you have control over the things that have been wearing on you?
- If you don’t have control over it, who does?
2. Do you need a new job?
I think sometimes the easy answer to overcoming burnout is to get a new job. Leave your current job behind and move onto something different –problem solved. However, I don’t think finding a new job is always the right solution. Ultimately, it all boils down to the following question:
If you were to get a new job, would the things that bother you still exist in a new role/at a new company?
You know the saying “the grass is always greener on the other side?” That’s exactly what I’m getting at here. For example, if responding to emails makes you see red…then that’s probably something you have to work on. Because, most likely, you will have to respond to emails no matter where you work (But if you find this magical place, let me know because I despise my email inbox.).
On the other hand, let’s say you’re a burnt-out veterinarian who has recently decided they hate animals (bless your cold, small heart). In that case, yes, you need a new job. And quickly I might add. Ok, that’s a dramatic example. But you get my point.
Either way, if you think you need a new job because you’re burnt out at your current one, ask yourself the following:
- Does a new job sound good because you think the same problems won’t follow you?
- Will the things that frustrate you continue to exist regardless of where you work in your industry?
- Are you contributing to your own stress and frustration?
I answered “yes” to both #2 and #3 once I realized my burn out would eventually return no matter where I worked. I was part of the problem. I put so much pressure on myself! I allowed work to dominate all other aspects of my life. Sure, I could go find a new job. But eventually I’d end up feeling the same way if I didn’t make some changes within myself.
However, if you answered “no” to these questions and a new job feels right for you, polish up your LinkedIn profile and let the job search begin!
3. What’s your ideal outcome?
At this point, you have a good handle on why you’re burnt out and whether a new job is the solution. Now it’s time to shift into problem-solving mode and craft a gameplan to pull yourself out of this rut!
Whenever I’m not sure how to solve a problem, I think about a potential ideal outcome — no matter how far-fetched it seems. If it’s not realistic, I search for an alternative I could be happy about. For some reason, working backward from an ideal outcome to a realistic solution helps me figure out what to do. These are the questions I ask myself in this process:
- What would be your ideal solution? (i.e. What would make you feel better/reenergized/excited about work again?)
- Is it realistic?
- Do you have control over implementing this solution?
- Do you need someone’s else help to make your ideal solution a reality? If so, whose?
For me, my ideal solution for overcoming my burnout was a combination of the following:
- More variety in my day-to-day responsibilities
- Opportunities to use my brain differently
- Reduced (self-inflicted) pressure and anxiety
Overcoming Burnout: Part Three
Once I understood why I was burnt out, I was able to more clearly see what I really wanted and needed. I’m hoping this exercise for overcoming burnout by being honest with yourself does the same for you! Coming up next is how you can put your gameplan for an ideal solution into action.