For many hardworking people today, it is common to experience job burnout at some time in their career. The increasing workload, complex demands at home (especially as the kids get older), and the monotony of routine cause workers to feel that what they are doing is not worth it.
People experiencing job burnout describe it in different ways. Some feel like they are in a panic or even “lost” as they are no longer sure about what it is they are doing.
This affects their current duties as their panicked feeling causes them to doubt their work routines (even if they have been at it for a long time!). This may also affect their thoughts about the future as they are now unsure about their career path, causing sleepless nights.
For others, burnout results in a lack of motivation. They feel “lost” like the panicky people; however, the response is more of indifference and even disgust about what they do. This creates thoughts of quitting because they just don’t care anymore (many students fed up with their class and teacher can easily relate to this feeling!).
Taking the First Steps to Beat Job Burnout
In today’s world, people applaud the idea of always being busy – at work, at home, and even in the community. When one is busy, it means that one is hardworking; one has initiative; one has ambition.
People, however, were not meant to be working non-stop. In Scripture, God implemented a day of rest for His people to reflect, pray, and rest. It was true for people then and it certainly applies to people now.
Here are the initial steps to take to overcome job burnout:
1. Acknowledge your current situation in life. Know that you do deserve to have a job that you like yet still have quality time with the family. But tell yourself that healing must start now, that life can be better for you and your family with God’s help.
2. Recognize that boundaries are needed to help you manage both your job’s difficulties and ensure family time.
3. Understand that being burned out is not unusual as many people will experience something like this at some point in their life (to varying degrees). And know that God sees your need and is just waiting for you to ask for His help.
4. Take the necessary steps to slow down and live life the way God meant you to.
Don’t Just Dream…Do!
For many people, their idea of goal-setting is to dream of where they want to be in five years’ time or so. While it is good to have dreams, they are still NOT concrete. Without the steps needed to achieve them, they remain as wishful thinking.
When young, it might not feel so bad as there are still many more years to accomplish them. But when you have been working for quite some time, not being able to achieve these dreams is very frustrating and can contribute to burnout.
Aim for More Joyful Living
In order to overcome burnout and prevent future episodes of such, a person should have the following:
A person needs to consider where they want to be, what they want to create, and who is it all for. Without such, whatever they are doing will eventually seem meaningless. Happy people work with a purpose knowing that the things they do, big or small, are done for a reason.
For example, if someone envisions having their own restaurant one day, they may see their current task of washing the dishes as understanding the small details of the business. In the future, they will know if their future employees are doing the job correctly since they have already experienced it.
Resilience & Mindset
People who have either overcome burnout or learned how to avoid it know what it takes to set firm boundaries for both professional and personal time. This includes developing a strong support group in times of crisis (e.g. friends or mentors one can count on for direct help or emotional support) and the ability to say “no” when there is too much to handle or if it contradicts your goals.
But burnout is not just about too much workload, it also depends on whether what a person is doing is within their strengths and desires in life. If what they do makes them happy and takes them a step towards their purposes in life, then they will be happy and productive in what they do. To do so, they must have the proper mindset.
Having the right mindset means knowing your purpose, your strengths and weaknesses, and being honest about your own effort in achieving your goals. Questions like “Why am I here?”, “What do I love?”, “What do I do best?”, and “Am I really giving my all?” are important to reflect upon to ensure that effort and time are not wasted.
The right mindset also means giving oneself the permission to seek a better life – something that many are not able to do because of low self-esteem, family demands, or socio-cultural expectations.
Big achievers do things with intention. These intentions are manageable goals that are part of their overall plan which is usually seen through, either by themselves or with the right help. Without them, one’s dreams may be impossible to achieve.
These intentions, however, must include mini-goals for a good work-life balance. This may include setting a time within the day for exercise and rest; blocking out days of the week for family and personal time; and allotting time within the month to see old friends.
Big achievers then activate their plans – they actually do it. Instead of procrastinating, they may work with others (e.g. personal coach) or do so on their own to set concrete timelines for these intentions and big goals.
Big achievers know that if they do not take that first step then everything is still but a dream. Achievers also realize that there is no one to blame for failure but themselves, so they take that responsibility and do what needs to be done to reach their target.
Finally, achievers transform. Life is dynamic. The successes of yesterday do not automatically repeat themselves. A person needs to transform, knowing that this is not a one-time thing. In order to do well, one must be willing to adapt. This may mean intentionally learning new skills; enhancing your network, or choosing to cut back on things that are no longer helpful to you (e.g. bad habits).
Transformation also includes overcoming fear. A big reason why people do not want to change is that they feel comfortable where they are and are simply awaiting their “big break.” This, however, means a person becomes stagnant while the competition around them becomes better. A person must be willing to get out of their comfort zone, and this means conquering their fears.
Always Include God in the Equation
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30, NIV
Sadly, in the midst of busyness, people often forget about God. Plans are made without Him; and in times of stress, people run to one another for comfort but not to Him.
In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus was making his way to visit Mary and Martha:
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.
But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Though Martha knew the importance of being with the Lord, listening to Him, and taking time to know Him more, she was immersed in the preparations while her sister prioritized Jesus.
It is good to work hard. But at times, Christ wants everyone to sit at His feet and experience the peace that only He can give. Without this, burnout is sure to occur. Hence, it is important that part of one’s intentions is to regularly schedule time for prayer, both personal and corporate, and Scripture meditation. If a person’s spirit and direction are not renewed, then life’s complications will definitely feel overwhelming.
Christian Counseling for Job Burnout
The above-mentioned advice can be done on one’s own. However, some people require a helping hand, a coach to get them back on track.
If you or someone you know needs help in transitioning out of job burnout, contact a Christian counselor soon. With the help of an encouraging voice, Scripture, and prayer, you can refocus your life priorities so that your goals may be achieved.
“Young Girl Crossing Hands,” courtesy of Splitshire.com, AMANDR 20160413 SplitShire-6661-2; “Working,” courtesy of Bench Accounting, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Higher Goal”, Courtesy of Joshua Earle, Unsplash.com; CC0 License; “Serenity,” courtesy of Jojo Nicdao, Flickr Creative Commons, CC0 License