5 Long-Term Solutions to Burning Out at Work
Did you even notice when your occasional crappy day at the office first turned into crappy weeks? Then crappy months? Until your work life became the same nightmare of a day over and over again. Like Groundhog Day—but with more spreadsheets. Perhaps you didn’t even realize when diligently taking hourly breaks from the screen stopped making a difference in your ability to focus. You stretched your hours to make up for your productivity slump, only to end up taking even longer to accomplish even less. Waking up in the morning to drag your demotivated self to the office became an Olympic effort. Congratulations! You’re burning out.
So now you’re one big exposed nerve. A seething, perpetually exhausted human-shaped mass of stress and anxiety. And something needs to change.
Quick fixes—like meditating or going off the grid for a while—will only get you so far. If you’re not dealing with the underlying issues, how long will it hold? If you want more meaningful change in your work life, stop slapping bandaids on a severed limb. It’s time for bigger, scarier steps.
But OK, let’s start a bit smaller.
Have you been coasting on your existing skill set and not really growing as a professional? But you also don’t love the idea of too much change too fast?
Level up. Take an online course or two. Fill in the gaps in your knowledge that have been causing you to doubt yourself. There’s nothing like going back to school to give you a new perspective on your life and work.
When you’re burning out, expanding and elevating your skill set isn’t just about maxing out your hireability and padding your CV (although that doesn’t hurt either). It’s about your confidence levels. The rush of suddenly being smarter will do wonders for your faith in your own abilities.
Obviously, there’s no shortage of amazing resources on the internet, so there’s really no excuse to put this off. As a good place to start, this Upwork article from earlier in the year, Top 20 Courses to Help You Reskill and Upskill for the Future, lists (you guessed it) twenty useful courses from platforms like Coursera, Udemy, Lynda.com, Udacity, Simplilearn, edX, and PluralSight.
Make it fun again
If you’re burning out because you can no longer squeeze even a thimbleful of joy out of your role, see if you can change what the role is.
Now, this one calls for a somewhat cool boss and a company culture that cares about your personal growth. So let’s assume that you have that, or at least that you work with people who can be reasoned with to an extent.
Talk to this hypothetical cool boss of yours about your role. Are you working on things that matter? Or are you doing work that’s just there because that’s how it’s always been done?
Highlight your strengths that could be put to better, more profitable use. If there’s room to deconstruct and rebuild your role into something that puts the sparkle back in your eye and helps the company, you’ve got yourself a win-win.
Play the field
OK, so that failed and your job just isn’t challenging you anymore. At least not in the fun, exciting way the internet says it should. But you’re still not sure if you’re ready to quit.
Apply for other jobs anyway. Feel the rush of being in demand. Go on interviews, see what the market has in store for you. Getting your head back in the job seeking game might lead to a variety of potential discoveries:
- You do want to quit what you’re doing and start something new.
- There’s something missing from your skill set that’s been holding you back.
- You’re worth more than you think and can ask for a raise or promotion at your current company.
- Seeing what’s out there gives you a fresh appreciation for what you have going on.
You’re not being disloyal or evil by looking out for yourself. You’re making no commitments just by applying. But the experience will reinvigorate you. And if you do end up finding something else you want to do, you’re golden.
Listen, maybe you’re just not in the right line of work anymore. It happens. You took a wrong turn somewhere and have hit a dead end.
In the movie of your life, this is where the soundtrack gets really tense. There might be a montage of you taking long, thoughtful walks and gazing out across the water, contemplating your existence. Then cut to that cathartic scene where you triumphantly slam your resignation letter on your boss’s desk and saunter out of the office, terrified and thrilled.
Movie cliches aside, taking your career in a new direction may well be the leap you need to take to get your groove back. A couple of years ago, Jobbatical hired an office manager. Coming from the corporate world of law and taxes, this new hire had decided to jump in at the deep end and do something completely alien to her at a startup. Today, she is Jobbatical’s Global Mobility Manager.
A career pivot is a leap of faith—faith in yourself and your ability to work yourself up to where you need to be.
Get a job abroad
Potentially the most terrifying, risky, and thoroughly life-changing solution to burning out in your career is to pack that career up and move it across the planet.
Living abroad makes you more creative, more open, more confident, and more fun at parties. Working in a new country will give you experience you literally can’t get in your home country. You’ll see cultures, perspectives, and ways of life that will shape who you are in ways you never imagined.
There’s (literally!) a whole world of career opportunities out there, in countries you might not have thought of as places to call home one day. Sign up on Jobbatical, find a job that stirs something in you, and get whisked away to Malaysia, Singapore, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Portugal, Spain, India, Thailand—you get the idea.
Not only will your career trajectory become infinitely more exciting very quickly, but you’ll also find yourself on a path of personal growth that you won’t find anywhere else.