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.
Remember when you were a kid. Bedtime was the worst, wasn’t it. Especially when the lights went out and the monsters came out. Especially the ones that lived under your bed, or in your closet or in the shadows on the wall.
Do you remember screaming for your parents who would slowly and bedrugingly come into room? They would turn on the lights and those shadow turned out to be innocent pieces of furniture, when you looked underneath your bed there were no monsters just long lost and dusty toys and your closet? Only full of clothes.
The job search can feel like those monsters. It can leave you feeling stressed out and discouraged. And can leave you spending hours on Indeed throwing resumes out there in the hopes of finding something as a way to avoid this scary beast that is the job search! But it is the unknown that is so terrifying but once you turn the lights on it becomes less scary. In fact it becomes something manageable and doable.
Knowing the steps and what is to come is key to turn that big scary monster into some innocent thing! Plus moving through the job search in a more structured and intentional way will give you more control over the job search.
That is why I created The Job Search Roadmap. This is a roadmap that goes over every single step of the job search giving you a sense of what is to come, giving you a plan of action to follow and leaving you feeling empowered instead of discouraged.
This step is vital. It allows you to figure you who you are (and what your superpower is) and also digs into your skills, interests and motivations. It then allow you to create your Career Map – what your goals are and what options exist right now to get you on the path to those goals.
2. Marketing Plan
During a job search you become your own product and you are selling and marketing yourself to potential networking connections and potential employers. Think about the message you want to convey. Write your modern, foundational resume and cover letter. Practice your elevator pitch. And don’t forget your social media strategy.
3. The Job Search
A lot of work comes before you even get to this! But all that work helps prepare you for putting yourself out there. Networking is key since three-quarters of jobs are found this way so figuring out any events, setting up some informational interviews, leveraging LinkedIn – all these different networking types will help you make connections. I don’t want you to ignore job boards, just come up with a plan to use them to actually get a job, go to career fairs if it makes sense and get used to dealing with recruitment agencies.
4. Getting Hired
The best part of the process. It all starts with the interview – prepare to answer those two common yet dreaded questions, deal with those nerves and get ready to shine. Figure out your bottom line so when that offer comes in you know how to get your worth.
I’ve made this even easier for you. The most popular free resource I’ve created is a 5 day email course on The Job Search Roadmap. Each day you get an email expanding each step with vital information to get you noticed, creating connections and finding your way to that dream career.
Do you feel like a chicken with its head cut off most days. Well I did too. Until I was introduced to time management and productivity books. Now I read them all the time to find new hacks to get more done in a day. Here are 4 books that really helped me out.
I don’t know about you, but there just never seems to be enough hours in a day. I just want to do ALL THE THINGS and quite frankly the idea of compromising or giving something up just doesn’t jive with my goal oriented and over achiever type of personality.
I want to cook everything from scratch, work out daily, mediate daily, spend meaningful time with my kids PLUS build a business that involves marketing on social media, writing weekly articles and newsletters, help out clients through career coaching and resume writing and more. Never mind the fact that I also have a part time job Career Transitioning, have to deal with all the admin associated with running a business and want some semblance of a social life!
I know that it is impossible to do all of that all the time, but I want to at least try my hardest to become my most efficient self so that I can tick off a ton of boxes every day. As an information gatherer and a reader, it comes as no surprise that I have probably read every Time Management and Productivity book on the market. So my time management is a hodge podge of all of these ideas that I’ve learnt but my system is one that also changes all the time depending on the week and my life at that moment.
Here are four books that really made an impact on my life, ones that I feel have allowed me to get more things done in a day.
1. The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
This is the very first book I read about productivity about 10 years ago when I was laid off from my agency recruiting job. Back then I wrote most of the ideas off as I didn’t think it really applied to me. But there were a few things I did implement and took to heart.
I loved his concept of the “New Rich” how your total take home salary isn’t how you should define your worth. In order to be a New Rich person, you need to create a life you WANT. This really resonated with me at the time as I was in the process of interviewing for a job I really wanted (Corporate Recruiter), only 5 minutes away from my house. But it was going to be a big pay cut. This book sparked a great conversation with husband in terms of what we value most. Money wasn’t at the top of the list, not even close. We also did the calculation and the hourly rate really wasn’t that different when you took into account the hours and money saved from not commuting and extra time at the office. So when the offer did come through it was an easy yes, and saying goodbye to the stress and the commute more than made up for the loss of some money.
Some specific time management tools of his I have implemented over the years are figuring how much time it really takes to complete a task and sticking to it, finding a way to eliminate meetings (or a way to join in remotely), and outsourcing/delegating the tasks you are able to.
When I am at my most productive, I’m following some of his ideas – don’t arrive at your desk without a plan or else you will just dawdle away the day in your inbox and being busy is a form of laziness (similar to a Gretchen Rubin thought that you can procrastinate with work).
In my opinion for 99% of the population the concept of a 4 hour workweek is laughable. But I would still recommend this book to all of you as it gives great insights on how to save you some time. Especially if you work somewhere traditional where they want you at your desk, this book talks about how to convince your boss to let you work from home on Fridays, now who wouldn’t want that!
2. The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen R Covey
This was the second book on time management that I read, since it is listed on pretty much all productivity and time management must read lists! This book showed me that my career, just like my life, was completely within my control. You can’t just sit back and wait for your dream career to land in your lap – you have to BE PROACTIVE (Habit #1), and you need to remember to place what you value most above all others so you need to PUT FIRST THINGS FIRST (Habit #3). There are 4 other habits, but for me and my career these are the two that have been most useful to getting me to where I am today.
His quadrant is also such a key for time management and learning how to prioritize your daily, weekly and monthly tasks. By examining the need for this task and the deadline allows us to plan out how our schedule should look.
If you are a reader, then definitely pick this one up. If not, then googling it and reading an article or two will suffice and everyone and their mother has written about it, for good reason!
3. Get you Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight
I love the no-nonsense style of this writer, and honestly as someone who doesn’t like being confined by the corporate world, I could relate to her story of giving it all up to pursue her dreams.
Plus, her approach is right up my alley with her three steps – Strategize (plan of action to achieve a goal), Focus (break it down and schedule it) and Commit (set yourself up for success). She leans into negative thinking as a way to propel you to take action which works especially well for those who don’t have a clear direction of where they want to go or what they want to do, they just know that they want to leave or put an end to what they are doing.
Sarah wants you to be very specific with your goals in terms of time management. For example, say you are struggling to keep atop of your current workload. Take a look at the core of what YOU CAN CONTROL. Are you spending too much time on social media? Then perhaps the solution is to limit your time online. And then focus on your impulse, do you feel the twitch and call of social media? Confront that impulse head on to put a stop to it!
One of my most used time management tips came from this book and that is the concept of a “MUST DO LIST”. Sarah recommends that you have a large running master to do list and that every day you prioritize that list based on urgency and importance (similar to above!) and then move that to your MUST DO List. That is your focus for the day, nothing else!
I highly recommend this book, it is a fun read with some great tips and a little bit of inspiration for anyone wanting a career change.
4. Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
This is one of the most recent productivity books I have read. I loved it – the idea of SAVERS (Silence, Affirmation, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, and Scribing) is something I fully believe in. But it has been one of the most difficult to put into place. I have bits and pieces throughout my day. I meditate every night before I go to bed (96 days straight right now), I read every day and I exercise/move most days.
I want to do the rest, and I agree with the author that the mornings that I get up early and get all of that accomplished are the days that I am most productive as it sets a great tone for the day.
My problem (or excuse) is my kids. I have a 6.5 yo and a 5 yo who wake up at 6am and quite frankly I don’t want to get up any earlier. And even if, on the odd day, they are sleeping, when I try to sneak downstairs it ends up waking them up. Plus, first thing in the morning they just want to be near me, typically they want to snuggle in bed (there are only a few more years of that and I want to soak those cuddles up!) and then be in the same room as me so it is hard to focus.
But I believe so much in this. I believe that setting your intentions and your goals will not only increase your productivity but also increase the likelihood of you being a success. So I literally just researched a shorter version (since the book recommends about 90 minutes) and came across the 6 minute Miracle Morning by Hal. I’m going to tweak it to 8 minutes and only focus on the pieces I don’t do every day:
Silence: 2 minute gratitude meditation (in addition to my nightly meditation)
Affirmation: 2 minutes affirmations
Visulaization: 2 minutes visualization
Exercise: during the day
Reading: during the day
Scribing: 2 minute scribing – my gratitude, my daily goals and plan.
Anyone willing to join me? Tomorrow, I’ll let you know how it went!
The amazing thing about Happiness Books and these Productivity books is that they introduce to us concepts that we may never have thought about. But more importantly, they tell us the story of how to make the changes and how those changes can have a lasting impact on our lives. So if you are stuck in a job you hate and don’t know what to do, they can help you figure out what you want and how to make the time in a day to get there.
If even that is overwhelming, how about a 30 minute phone call – we can chat for free, let’s strategize where you are, where you want to go and how to get there.
Sara Curto, Career Management Specialist. Working with you towards Career and Job Search Success.
Dream Career Planner
Click HERE to download