Career Burnout is a real issue and some companies are taking it seriously. Consider the dating site Bumble. Their CEO has given the entire staff this week off to help them avoid burnout. “As vaccination rates increase and restrictions ease, we wanted to give our global teams a paid week off to rest and refresh after what’s been an incredibly challenging time for everyone,” a Bumble spokesperson said in an email to NBC News.
On April fifth of this year, LinkedIn gave their employees around the world a week off .
We’ve been taught that hard work is good, and it is. But we haven’t heard enough about how to rest and the value of doing so without feeling guilty. I know something about this. Eight years into my career, I hit a burnout wall. And it was ugly.
Never had I felt such sheer exhaustion. The last months on the job, I drove home at lunch, went to bed, slept for 90 minutes and then pulled myself together to finish my work day.
Little did I know that Career Burnout had arrived. At the time, I didn’t know it had a name. Now I do.
The truth is, my body just stopped.
It was a lot like being the unskilled rider on a champion horse. Your horse just stops and you have no reason why or how to fix it.
My body said, “Absolutely no more!”
And this time I listened. Here are some of the gory details:
-I had completed a grueling two year MBA program that I self-funded. (I was broke, so I felt I could take no time off.)
-The good news was I was recruited by a high-profile consumer products company. And for the next six years worked pretty much 24/7 and climbed fast. I was rewarded with recognition, promotions, and raises.(Just what my inner demon loved…read on.)
-Never one to rest on my laurels, two weeks after I earned a huge corporate promotion, I jumped ship and joined a Texas start-up where the expectations were sky-high.
Two more grueling years came and went. Then, I started hearing an inner voice that said, “You hate this job.” But I didn’t listen…
Looking back, those eight demanding years required all of me and I willingly gave it.
Even the doc at the campus infirmary where I went complaining of fatigue told me I was the “type” corporate America loved to get their hooks into….and he was right.
I now recognize my inner work demon was insatiable and that I was seeking perfection: the wittiest presentation, the perfect memo, the “smart” executive summary on a complicated research report, key observations at senior management meetings, etc.
I fed that inner demon daily. I let him be in charge. And he nearly killed me.
But then one day it came to a grinding halt. I had no more energy to give.
I was down for the count for almost three years….In the beginning, I was listless. I slept a lot, had zero appetite for anything resembling work, my friends and family were worried…..what was happening to me?
I really don’t remember a lot about that dark time except I knew I was tired and lost.
I also discovered that God works in mysterious ways.
Eventually I started to feel some motivation.. I bought a back pack and found a desk at a University of Texas library where I would go most weekdays. I started to doodle and then write.
After a couple of months, I came home from the library I was taking a break in and sat down in my favorite chair in my den. Suddenly my brain began connecting the dots. I began to visualize. Customer Loyalty is earned one stage at a time and I needed to “invent” the stages. Next, an image flashed in my mind on how to present these stages in whimsical illustrations. I was furiously writing all this down before it escaped me.
That model turned into keynotes, workshops and my break-through book, Customer Loyalty: How To Earn It, How To Keep It. I’ve been preaching the gospel of Customer Loyalty ever since.
While I was blessed by this epiphany, I learned a big lesson. Career Burnout is a real physical and emotional condition that can cripple us.
Don’t let it creep up on you.
Here are some tips that I hope you will find helpful:
-Trust your inner voice. Listen to it. That whisper can become a sledge hammer if you give it no mind.
-Pace yourself. Expect career twists, turns and setbacks.
-Practice patience. As my mother always said, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” (This one is hard for me!)
-Expect failures…they come in all sizes. Learn from them. They are your best teachers.
-Exercise, meditate, pray. Make time for yourself every day. This is where breakthroughs can happen!
-Ask for help. For the longest time, I never asked.
-Most importantly, only give your gifts to worthy people and causes. As Maya Angelou wisely taught, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.