At some point, everyone experiences burnout at work. Burnout isn’t just a bad day or tough week. It’s when you don’t have good days. You can recover from burnout and reengage with work again. Take it from someone who has experienced burnout and learned how to recover from it.
We all have those days when work feels like it’s dragging us down. Most times, we shrug it off and hope tomorrow is better.
Then those days start to blend together and you notice your energy and enthusiasm at work and in life is dwindling. About this point you may realize you are unhappy at work.
Even those who are generally happy at work feel disengaged from time to time. People in every corner, regardless of age, job type, or industry all have felt disengaged at work at some point.
Have you vented to loved ones about your workday woes? Perhaps you feel stuck in a rut right now. You may be experiencing some level of burnout.
Burnout is more than just a bad day or tough week — every job has those. Burnout is when you don’t have good days, and it seems to linger on for weeks.
If you checked yes to any of the options, you may be experiencing burnout.
I myself have experienced burnout and know what you’re going through. I learned from others to see a difference in how people recover from burnout and reengage at work.
Here’s what I did to reengage with work and feel successful in my career after a burnout. If you feel stuck, pay close attention. What I’m about to share with you may sound simple, but it may just change your life.
In life, you were taught to train your behavior on a distinct formula.
You were told that success leads to happiness, and you unconsciously trained your behavior to follow this pattern. In essence, this formula puts happiness beyond the horizon and shapes our mind to focus on outcomes and not emotions.
Every time you have a success, you change the threshold for success. You got a good job, now you have to get a better job. You got good sales numbers, now you have to get better sales numbers.
If happiness is on the other side of success, you’ll never get there. Instead, happiness should be at onset of the formula, before successes.
Believe me, I’ve struggled with this concept. Time to time, I fall victim and measure my happiness based on success. But even then, I keep pushing back the goal posts for success another 10 yards, making my happiness more out of reach.
Together, you and I have been there. We’ve pushed happiness over the horizon, and thought we needed to be more successful to be happier.
For one, we need to realize the formula is broken and backwards. If we can reverse the formula, happiness will lead to successes. Believe me. Think of the last time you were happy at work. I’ll bet you were more successful, producing better quality work at a higher level of efficiency.
If we can raise our happiness in the present, we’ll work with an advantage. Your brain with a positive mindset outperforms your brain in a negative, stressed, or neutral stage. In fact, just about every work outcome will improve if you can master a positive mindset.
With diligence, I have focused on happiness at the onset, and found my productivity, creativity, and overall energy toward work increase.
Document your wins
Up until recently, I hadn’t given much thought to what I wanted out of my career. Honestly, the last time anybody asked me that was in the job interview.
I hadn’t paid attention to what would make me feel successful in my role, outside of maybe a salary increase, a title change, or a big fancy office. Because I didn’t know these things, when I would browse on Facebook or LinkedIn and see friends post about their new job at a big company or a stellar promotion, I’d start playing the comparison game. I’d lose the comparison game because I could quickly identify their successes and not recall my own.
Because my happiness was contingent on my successes, I had already lost the battle.
I changed this by documenting my wins. I bought the fanciest 25¢ notebook I could find and spent five minutes at the end of my workday documenting my wins. Some days, I’d write more if I found more to say.
Simply journaling made the most difference in my journey to feeling happy at work. Subconsciously I had trained my brain to relive those successes.
Find what motivates you
I’ll be the first to admit, I fall into routine way too easily. When you’ve fallen into a routine, you may lose sight of what is important in your career and in your life.
For me, I find routine not only feels monotonous, but isn’t all that motivating. For this, the solution I have found is to find what motivates me. Whether those are small rewards I give myself, or goals that I have set and am inspired to keep pushing toward.
Everyone has a different motivation. Some people are motivated by wants and desires — money and houses are a couple examples. Others are motivated to help their families or their community.
Motivation is important because it can help you stick with something when things feel monotonous. I also found that switching up my routine helped my day-to-day feel more meaningful, and made it easier to identify my motivations.
I asked how I could switch up my routine. Think about asking for flexibility in your work projects, or if you can incorporate time to work on personal projects you are naturally motivated to do. For me, if I have a focus on a personal project I am better served to do it than I am to put it off. By doing something I enjoy, I feel more grounded in my work and tend to enjoy what I’m doing. Taking time to do work I enjoy, I have better focus when I return to my other work.
Sometimes I don’t have a personal project or the freedom to spend time on it. In those instances, I have found to switch up my routine by asking to volunteer on assignments outside my norm. Variety helped me to realign my goals and find motivation in the work that I was doing. It may work for you, too.
Ah, the grass is always greener. You’ve heard that before. It’s us focusing on the negatives of our job and not the positives.
How often do you ask yourself, what’s good?
For me, I avoided the question far too often. Doing so, I was consistently feeling down about work. Only when I asked what was good, did my mind start to reset.
Sure, I’ll admit that gratitude didn’t come naturally. For me, the easiest way to start my gratitude journey was to think about what attracted me to my job and company in the first place. I mean, I took the job for a reason, didn’t I? You did for your job, too. It may have been the pay, benefits, company culture, or the projects you’d work on.
Gratitude, I thought, was hard. I wasn’t sure how I’d find what to express gratitude for. Then I started asking the question of why I first wanted to be here. I had a choice, and I must have had a good reason or two why I made this choice. For as long I was able to tick those boxes and confirm that these values were still present, I assured myself that I was in the right place. I could be thankful for all I had at work, and I had all I needed to feel happier at work.
Happiness is an emotional response to a positive outcome.
Happiness tells us that if I win, I will be happy. If I don’t, I won’t. Unbeknownst to everyday people is that happiness is a quid-pro-quo standard — and is not sustainable.
It’s reliant on an outcome and requires a certain result. If happiness is what you’re after, you’ll be let down frequently. It’s because we instinctively raise the standard for happiness whenever we obtain it. It’s not our fault. Society taught us this behavior.
Happiness should not follow success but precede it. How do we put happiness first? Through gratitude.
Gratitude is appreciating the simple everyday things you take for granted. When you express gratitude, that gratitude reciprocates and gives you even more to feel grateful for.
If you’re unhappy at work and feeling empty and unfulfilled, you feel lost. You want to better your current situation, but you don’t know how. It happens to all of us at some point. Most of the time, however, people do nothing but sit back and hope their situation improves. But those who wish for a change rarely ever see one.
Recognizing the broken model that happiness is the result of success is the expert knowledge few know. You now know what others don’t. You can unlock happiness by reversing the standard and putting happiness before success.
With this mindset, happiness is always at reach.
Your journey to a happier work life just hit light speed.
Go get ‘em.
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