It happens in almost every business, CEOs, employees, and entrepreneurs all suffer from it, even friends and family experience it. Whether you’re a business owner, in senior management at your non-profit, a ministry leader, or simply a part of the all-important support staff for either, people get burned out. Going to the same building, parking in the same parking spot, shuffling the same papers, seeing the same people, selling the same books, or even sweeping the same floors; people get can easily bored with repetitive activity.
Burnout is an epidemic
As humans, we naturally desire challenges and achievements in our lives. If we’re not meeting challenges and seeing success, chances are we’re just going through the motions. No business has EVER been great, ever made a large-scale impact, or been remarkably innovative by just going through the motions. It doesn’t matter if you volunteer at a shelter, run a Fortune 100 company, or lead a small church of 30 people, you must be intentional about avoiding burnout for yourself and your team.
Studies show that only 30 percent of Americans consider themselves happy. Because most of us spending the majority of our awake time working, we have to be sure we’re not being blind to the connection between the our regular activities and burnout.
How Does it Happen?
The most common cause of burnout is simply working, especially for leaders and senior/executive managers. Most days are spent “doing”. Rarely do we have the benefit of coasting through the work week. We are putting out fires, negotiating contracts, contacting sponsors, launching products, strategizing expansions, and so much more. When there is always a lack of supplies, or a data migration, or new competition to assess, or something to “do”, it is VERY easy for anyone to become burned out with their daily activities, especially if these activities seemingly become repetitive.
People generally thrive off the “next” thing. And leaders especially are always coming up with new ideas, new ways for the a problem to be solved. They can read a bedtime story and see a company the princess should have opened that would have saved her a ton of heartache.
But ultimately, there are combination of things that cause burnout for people. It’s finding ourselves in high-pressure environments, AND our work becoming monotonous or unchallenging, AND working too many hours, AND having too many individual responsibilities, AND so on and so on…
How Do I Know if I’m Burned Out??
There is ONE KEY indicator that shows, we’ve either become burned out, or are on the road to burnout. That is when we see ourselves disconnected and disengaged with our passion. Not our work, not our responsibilities, but our passion. Yes of course there are other indicators, low energy, not really caring about your work, regularly contributing to tasks you find dull or overwhelming… But we’ve found, for the majority of our clients, they can power through those things to the next peak. Leaders are generally very strong, dedicated personalities.
However, for each client we’ve taken the time to address this issue with, we’ve found it was a disconnection from their passion that ultimately signified, they were in the danger zone. When you start to find it difficult to tap into the passion of what normally drives you, you could be coming close to the “burnout” phase. When you notice you are no longer enthusiastic about the service your business provides, you can be sure you’re getting close to the boundary line.
For most, there is a underlying passion that fuels them everyday. For the non-profit manager it’s a passion to help heal the world, or make a difference. For the business owner, it’s about providing a better solution to a problem. It could be helping young men find a way out of negative environments. For others is simply knowing they make a valuable contribution to something bigger than themselves. But inevitably, passion fuels.
Passion is defined as: an intense, driving or overmastering feeling or conviction. Another definition is, a strong desire or devotion to an activity, object or concept. When these aspects of you are lost, you are burned out. People flourish when we can do something truly innovative that makes a difference in the lives of those we interact with. Even financial executives, have a desire to help people earn, save, and understand the workings of money and economics. For an agency like ours, it’s the privilege to help breathe life into businesses.
When that begins to wane, or if it disappears altogether, it’s time to make some moves to restore the passion that once burned bright.
Understand, your passion not only fuels you, but it also fuels all those you encounter. (Talk about pressure right?) Seriously, your passion can help to fuel your support staff, your employees, your social media followers, even your friends and your family. Your passion is what sparks customers to buy and volunteers to sign up. Your passion even helps reignite other leaders who may be partners or vendors of yours. Your passion is more important than you could possibly imagine. If you lose it, we all lose out…
How Can I Avoid Burnout??
MOST IMPORTANT:: Create clear objectives for yourself! As we stated before, many are burned out because of the monotony of a daily routine. Seriously, whether you run a maid service, work as a analyst, manage an assisted living facility, or volunteer at a megachurch, dull daily activities can burn us out quickly.
The most effective way to avoid burnout is to create small objectives/goals for yourself and your organization. NOTE: Yourself and your organization are not a packaged deal, those are two different and unique lists. Create one SHORT set of objectives for yourself; they can be personal improvement goals or just things you’ve always wanted to do. Items on this list may include, learn a new language, visit a city, go to a NFL game, take a cruise, or spending a single night unplugged and reading a novel.
Then create a second SHORT list for your organization. This should be things that can spark some sort of change. It can be, getting more active in your community. It can be improving the work-life balance for your staff, or it can be redecorating the office. Whatever you choose, it must be something that you would relatively enjoy and will break your mind away from the balance sheets and daily repetitive tasks. BUT, this list also must be something you actually can achieve. Meaning, once you’ve accomplished it, you can look back and recognize a job well done.
Remember these lists should be short, 3 items maximum on each. We’re not trying to develop another “to do” list to add to the things you already don’t have time for, or are annoyed with.
Then, take your new objectives and put them in plain view. They should be somewhere you can see them on a regular basis. You’ll be surprised how having something out where you can see it will lead to its achievement. Not because you stare at it every day and say, “I’ve got to get this done.” But, because there is something about having a visual reminder that stimulates your subconscious into action.
How Do I Get My Passion Back if I’m Already Burned Out??
If you’re past the point of no return and you’re already in full burnout mode. Here are the 5 things you can do to reignite the passion that drove you to become the awesome person you are. These five strategies are a guide, not a perfect list. So, you may only find two or three that work specifically for you. Either way, get into them, and you’ll be back to your new self in no time. (see what we did there?? LOL)
1. Spark Your Creativity
Do something creative. Anything creative! Paint a picture, or better yet go to one of those pottery or painting places that provides all the materials. Visit a museum. If none of those work for you, here’s the one that worked for us. We found a list of creativity games on About.com. Visit that link and do a couple of the exercises, even with a friend. They will certainly get your creative juices flowing again.
2. Engage Others
One of the best ways to open up the depths of passion that lie within you, is to find someone you can help. Be sure this is someone who can’t do anything for you in return. We’re not talking about doing someone’s work for them. But if you find someone you can help achieve something, you’ll find your passion starting to creep back up. You can find a company that’s just starting up and help them develop their plan (short-term of course). You can work with a student who needs help learning a software platform (two or three meetings to show them the basics). You can do a number of things to help someone else take a step forward, and you’ll instantly be reminded of why you were so passionate in the first place.
3. Start Talking Again!
People often get so wrapped up in what they’re doing, they stop talking about what they love. Find yourself a networking group and start talking about what you love. Find someone, somewhere that you can talk to. Even if you have to catch a bus or train and just start chatting with the person next to you. Ask them about their passion, talk to them about your passion, and watch the fire begin to burn. (Don’t start a new business with the person on the bus that same day though.)
4. Laugh & Celebrate
This is something we don’t nearly do enough. I don’t’ mean going on a vacation. That can be more work! We mean find a comedy club and just go laugh. Go sit a karaoke bar and watch the people who have had one too many, give their best Mariah Carey! Go get a cake and 50 candles and bring it in the office, just because it’s Tuesday! Finding places to laugh and enjoy our lives, reminds us why we aim to make the lives of others better.
5. Start Learning Again
Whether it’s another language or how to build model airplanes, find something you can learn. We can take cooking classes. We can go on YouTube and learn to dance salsa. We can learn how to sew, how to play poker, or any number of other things. We can all learn something though. Take the time to go learn something new, and you’ll find that you want to contribute your passion once again!
Remember it’s in you!!
No matter the reason you’re experiencing burnout, you have the ability to find a way for your fire to burn bright again. Maybe you just need some time off, a sabbatical of sorts. Whatever it takes, be intentional. And keep watch over this area of your life. We need your passion. We need your dreams. We need your ideas. And we need you!