You hate your job. But you don’t know what to do about it. You are so overwhelmed, stressed out and anxious. You are well on your way to getting burnt out.
Thinking about a new career used to be that light at the end of the tunnel but now it just feels like another weight being added to your shoulders, weight that you just can’t handle right now.
The danger is complete and total burn out. Of remaining stagnant and things getting worse instead of better. Of being so afraid of the journey that we don’t do anything.
You just need to get started.
But on what? When you are so overwhelmed and your head is spinning it can be extremely hard to think about that first step because you can’t help thinking about ALL the steps you may need to take to achieve your goal of a new job or career.
You are over complicating things. Let’s bring it back to basics and make it super simple for you.
Let’s figure out your first step and not even worry about the rest. And it is easier than you think.
ACCEPT THAT YOU NEED TO CHANGE
Staying where you are is not the answer to the problem. Yes there are ways to love the job you hate that will put you in a better mindset for leaving your current job but you need to 100% accept that things need to change, you need to change.
Things are not going to magically get better, in fact they will more than likely get worse the longer you stay. Leaving your job is no longer optional.
PROPEL YOURSELF FORWARD
You are feeling all the crappy feelings right now. Good. Don’t try and ignore them or rationalize them or repress them. Feel them. And use those crappy feelings to push you forward towards your goal of leaving your job behind you.
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
Grab your phone or a pen and paper. Just write. Write about all the problems, all the ways life is getting in your way of going after your career dreams.
HOW CAN I SOLVE IT?
Write down solutions, at least one for each problem. Don’t judge them, don’t try to action plan them. Just write all the ways to solve each of the problems.
TAKE THE FIRST STEP
Look at that list. Think about all the different options. Think about how they make you feel. If thinking about a particular solution makes you feel stressed, or overwhelmed or trapped then scratch them off for now. What can you do TODAY. Just one thing.
But maybe you are so lost and overwhelmed that that long list is too much for you to handle right now. So what are some of the things on that list that will give you the biggest bang for your buck? Here are some ideas:
1. Ask for Help
This is a great first step. At work you can ask your boss or a colleague to help with the workload. Or at home, you can ask for help around the house so that you can free up some time to find your new job. Set up a free call with me, maybe there are some free resources or a way that we can work together that will lighten your load.
If you are in the throes of a burn out then this could be tough. But trying to get your 7-9 hours of sleep will help get you in the mindset and give you the energy to take a career change or job search on!
3. Take Care of Yourself
This is an extension of sleep, but I wanted sleep to be its own. This is eating, relaxing and moving. Perhaps your first step is to eat 5 vegetable servings, or to take a walk or to meditate for 5 minutes. Little wins lead to big wins and taking care of yourself gives you that confidence boost while also setting you up for success.
4. Talk to People
If you have an idea of what you want to do or where you want to do it, seek out people to talk to. Ask for more information. This will give you the knowledge of whether or not it is worth investing your time into that particular path, plus it will get you excited to know you are doing something and give you the information and a networking connection that will help make your dreams a reality!
5. Create a Plan
Sunday morning, figure out how much time you can devote to a career change/job search for that upcoming week. Be realistic and easy on yourself. Any time is better than no time.
Then figure out when you are going to use that time. If it is 2.5 hours, are you going to do 30 minutes of work per day or a 2.5 hour chunk of time? Use my Dream Career Planner to help make it even easier!
6. Build a Support System
This goes hand in hand with asking for help. But this is thinking about who in your life can help you out – who can cheer you on, hold you accountable, or give you guidance? This can be one person or many people. It can be a mentor, a peer, a family member or a coach like myself. You don’t have to do this alone!
Life goes by so fast. Which means it is so easy to stand still, in a situation that we hate and have hated. The old classic quote of a journey of a thousand miles starts with just one step is one we all know but not one we live. Because we can’t stop thinking about the rest of those steps needed. But we must remember the alternative. Staying put.
Don’t let that be an option. Pick one thing. And do it. Take that first step.
And of course, if you need help or want to talk it through, never hesitate to set up a complimentary strategy call with me.
I am the type of person who wants to be great at what they want to do. I know I’m not a unicorn or special snowflake as I believe most people want to be great at what they do.
But what happens when that strive for greatness backfires? We get burnt out.
Burn out looks differently for everyone and the road to burn out is no different.
For some, it is our people pleasing getting in our way. We just can’t say no. No matter how hard we try or how badly we want to, it is just so ingrained to keep saying yes. This is especially bad for women – we are taught from such a young age that we are here to serve and that being liked is the be all and end all. Pretty much a message that we should say yes all the time. So our plate gets too full, too heavy.
For others, it is our need to overachieve, to be the best at what we do. But not only that, it is making sure other people know we are the best, our competitive nature. So we spread ourselves too thin doing great work but also spending the time to make sure those important people know just how hard we are working and how successful we are. We get so focused on success that our well-being is ignored.
And then there is those of us who don’t have those same internal struggles but who are working in a toxic environment. Either the whole company culture, our managers or our teams are just a poisonous environment. We are always walking on egg shells, adrenaline pumping, constantly in a state of “flight or fight”. We just can’t handle it anymore.
Three different paths, same destination. Burn Out.
How do I know if I’m Burnt Out?
Burn out is a state of chronic stress. It can manifest itself differently depending on the person and the situation, meaning that burn out can impact you physically or emotionally. It is a slow process, slowly building up until you just can no longer function properly anymore.
This is good news, as there are signs that can help you indicate whether or not you are on your way to a full-fledge burnout breakdown.
Physical and Emotional Symptoms of Burn Out
1. Lack of energy
Are you feeling tired or drained? Is it getting worse? Maybe it started out as just so exhausted at the end of the day and now you are depleted the whole day through? How is your sleep – is it fitful or are you experiencing some insomnia?
Are you experiencing more pain than usual – is your blood pressure higher, having heart palpitations or episodes of difficulty breathing? To get TMI on you, are you having any gastro issues – like increased constipation or episodes of diarrhea? Maybe you are getting sick ALL. THE. TIME. A new occurrence as you didn’t use to get every single cold, flu or stomach bug but now you are. For all of these, please go see your Doctor!!
3. Change in Appetite
This is different for everyone, depending on how they handle stress. Have you lost your appetite or has your appetite kicked into high gear? You either can’t even think about food or all you can think about is food!
4. Loss of Focus
Your attention span has vanished. No matter what you do you just can’t focus anymore and work begins to pile up.
5. Anxiety and Depression
This starts off mild. Maybe you feel on edge or little sad. Maybe the Sunday Blues start on Saturday and are a little bit more intense. Then it just gets worse from there. You start to experience panic when you wake up in the morning, or trapped with no way out. Sometimes depression doesn’t show up as sadness, it shows up as anger (especially in men), so if you went through a period of irritability that has grown into flat out anger at the world and quick to getting in arguments then this is a sign of burn out and depression. Again if sounds like you please seek out your Doctor!
6. Rock Bottom Self Esteem
We blame ourselves. It is our own fault we are feeling this way – if only we were better at saying no, or if only we were truly successful and live up to our own crazy aspirations or if only we can mold to our toxic’s bosses unrealistic expectations. So maybe you feel worthless, like you have no value to bring to the world.
What Burnout Can Look Like
We are really good at lying to ourselves. Plus the above 6 signs usually come on very slowly giving us the time to adapt to this “new norm”. So it can be hard to recognize those physical and emotional symptoms of burn out. But there are other signs and there are certain things we are doing in our lives that can indicate we are on our way to burning out.
1. You have put yourself on a deserted island
I’ve shared with you in the past a time when I hated my job so much that I isolated myself completely in the workplace. I avoided talking to people as much as possible. After a while, I didn’t want to see friends. I felt ashamed that I was still stuck at my job that I hated. This isolation led to detachment. Now this came real easy to me as it is a natural coping and defense mechanism of my INFJ personality type. So not only was I isolating myself but I was building walls around me. Does any of this sound familiar to you?
2. You feel like there is no point.
Are you turning into a cynic? You feel like even trying to change is worthless, what’s the point after all? You just can’t count on anything anymore. So why even bother. No one cares. The world is out to get you. There is no hope.
3. You Suck at Your Job
Well maybe not completely suck. But you are spread so thin that your performance isn’t measuring up. You are making mistakes, your creativity has taken a long vacation, your To Do list is just never ending and you can’t seem to get it under control.
Does any of this sound like you?
Then first, do you need to talk to your Doctor? If so, set up an appointment ASAP.
Next? Do Something. Anything. Pick one thing you can do this week to change your situation. If you need help; find a support system, set a call me with to chat or talk to someone.
Accept that it is time to change and make that your number one priority going forward.
You did it. You got the job.
Your start date is just around the corner and it is time to relax, right?
Yes and No. I do want you to relax and celebrate your victory but but I also want you to come up with a strategy for your first 90 days in your new role.
These next 90 days are critical. Critical for your success in this new job and critical for your career success. It is your first impression and it sets the tone for the rest of your duration there.
When building your 90 day transition plan there are 6 things that I want you to review, think about and strategize.
1. Take Initiative
This is easy, simply ask for any materials for review prior to start. This shows your future manager that you are one to step up, that you love to be prepared and that you are focused on setting yourself up for success. A great message to send.
Once you start, be open to learning new things. Take the initiative to get to know the whole business and how your role/team/department supports it on its own path to success.
2. Build Relationships
Get to know people. Your team, your department, key people throughout the organization. A crucial part of success is to always surround yourself with a support system. We know this when we are going after a goal but we forget about it when starting a new job.
This is especially scary for introverts or people who are shy. So find a way around it. One thing I always did was to bring pictures and set them up on my desk. There was one of my husband and me from our backpacking days of us on an elephant. I would set that up so that anyone walking by or pausing at my office door or cubicle would see it and they would stop to ask about it. It was a great way for me to build relationships while dealing with the fear of meeting new people.
These relationships are key for your success, they will be the people you go to when you need to vent, ask questions, a shoulder to lean on and keep you accountable.
3. Ask Questions
As you are building relationships you are asking questions. Lots and lots of questions. Gather as much information you can about what people do, what they like about their roles, what they find challenging, how they all work together and support each other. Just keep on asking questions!
Whenever a client and I are discussing their 90 day transition plan and I bring up asking questions when you need help, I get a “well, of course” look. The thing is that yes it is easy to ask questions when you don’t know the answer. At first. But usually 2-4 weeks into our new roles the act of asking for help becomes harder. We feel like we should know it already, or that we are a burden. So then we stumble and struggle our way through it. We go down the path of setting ourselves up for failure instead of the one that sets us up for success.
That is why building relationships is key as it helps deal with this very issue. If we have created a relationship with someone who we know wants us to succeed we feel less like a burden.
I hate to ask for help, I always want to figure it out on my own. I have learned the hard way why this is such a problem. So when starting new jobs I had a system. I would first do everything in my power to find the answer myself. Then I would go to my most trusted peer. And then if they couldn’t help me I would go to my boss. And I made sure to communicate my attempts at solving the problem first.
Prepare yourself to ask questions the WHOLE time you are in the job!
4. Live and Breathe the Culture
Every company is different. It has its own culture and its own personality. So while you are asking all those questions and building those relationships and getting to know the business inside and out, get to know the culture too. What is important to management? What is their definition of hard work, success and collaboration? What is their communication style (emails, memos, meetings)?
Think about how you can integrate this information into how you work such as how you prioritize how to get work done, how you display your own hard work and talk about your successes and how you write emails.
5. Begin with the end in mind
This is a habit of highly successful people. And I always talk about incorporating it into your 90 day transition plan.
For example, say you are moving jobs because you want a better work/life balance and you want to avoid 10-12 hour days. I know when we are first starting out in a new role and we are doing all of the above plus learning how to do the job that it is easy to get in the habit of long work days. But then that habit is really hard to break. On top of that, you are setting expectations. Everyone will get used to you working those long hours so if you do try and break the habit it becomes noticeable and then you may get a bad reputation.
Now I’m not saying to phone it in. If you need that time to get properly on boarded then take it. BUT when it comes to after hours work – try your best to take it home and stay off of email. You are doing the work of learning the role and the company but you are doing it without people knowing you are doing it. That way once you are on boarded and start focusing on that work/life balance no one else will notice. And they’ll be so impressed by your learning capabilities too!
6. Anticipate Challenges
I love anticipating challenges. Figuring out what can derail me or upset me. I love it because I hate surprises and I get anxious not knowing how I will handle certain situations. By anticipating challenges and then coming up with solutions I am more equipped to overcome them with ease. Because let’s face it, challenges are inevitable. It isn’t a matter of if but a matter of when. And to set yourself up for success you will think about what those challenges can look like and then you will picture yourself overcoming them and come up with a plan of action from there!
The first 90 days are some of the most important days that you will have in a new role. It creates your foundation of success. So use these 6 tips to build your own transition plan.
I shared some challenges that I have faced in the past above, I’m curious what are some of the ones you have faced?
Sara Curto, Career Management Specialist. Working with you towards Career and Job Search Success.
Dream Career Planner
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