When Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post, one of the largest and most influential news aggregators in the world, resigns as editor-in-chief to avoid job burnout, you know you’ve got to examine your own work habits.
I think we can assume that Ms. Huffington, a super successful leader and entrepreneur, can hire as much help as she needs at work and at home. She can manage her time any way she wants. She can delegate.
And still, she chose to resign so that she could fully focus on her new nonprofit, Thrive Global, whose mission is “ending our collective delusion that burnout is the necessary price we must pay for success”.
There’s only one explanation for this — Arianna Huffington is walking her talk. And she walked down one of the 3 Paths Out Of Job Burnout, before it was too late.
What about you? Are you excited on work mornings? Or are you “livin’ for the weekend”? Do you feel inspired by your work, or bored and stuck? Are you energized and feeling creative or are you just plan burned out?
I know where Arianna Huffington is coming from. I made the difficult decision to close my successful school for the holistic healing arts in 2010 to create a more balanced, quieter life as a life coach and online teacher of the Holistic Life Coaching Certification.
I’ve worked with many clients and students experiencing job dissatisfaction, frustration, and burnout. Here are the stories of three clients that illustrate the 3 Paths Out Of Job Burnout. And keep reading to find out how Arianna and I connected over our shared rejection of overwork and imbalance.
Causes of Burnout
While we often associate burnout with overwork, according to research by Drs. Michael P. Leiter and Christina Maslach, there are 6 causes of job burnout:
- Lack of Control
- Values Conflict
- Insufficient Reward
- Work Overload
- Breakdown of Community
You may be feeling any one or more of these at play at your job. And you may be wondering whether to stay or look for something else.
Whatever the causes, job dissatisfaction requires 3 decisions:
- Are you going to stay or leave the job?
- How do you deal with the most stressful parts immediately, since even if you decide to go, a move probably won’t happen right away?
- If you do decide to leave, how will you make sure you do it in a responsible way both financially and emotionally?
Keeping those in mind, let’s look at the 3 Paths Out Of Job Burnout and find out if one is right for you.
Path #1: Falling In Love Again (or for the first time) With Your Job
My client Terry works at a nearby university and came to me to talk about feeling frustrated at her administrative job and to figure out what to do. Citing lack of control, values conflict, work overload, and difficulty with a subordinate, she wondered if she’d given all she could and if it was time to move on.
As Terry and I began to unpack what was going on at work, we found that the real source of stress was her assistant’s frankly bad attitude, which permeated the office and was flattening Terry’s enthusiasm, passion, and drive to do the work — which she really loves and believes in. Terry’s own choices to overwork, taking little or no breaks through the day and working long hours, also contributed to the threat of burnout.
Boundaries — with herself and her coworker — became Terry’s focus.
I reminded Terry that she had a choice, stay and work on what she could — her own boundary issues — or work on them on the next job she took, because you can bet the issues would follow her. Terry chose to take on the challenge.
We first started with her own self care at work, choosing a “hard stop” for lunch and quitting time each day, so that she didn’t end up staying “to do one more thing” until 8 or 9pm every night. That led to reconnecting with her own personal time, including spiritual practice, working on her new poetry blog, and family time, all of which had suffered from lack of attention.
Next we looked at the relationship with her coworker, where much resentment had built up. We used a forgiveness exercise to help release the negativity and Terry immediately reported a dramatic change in the atmosphere at work. Terry was now more emotionally independent, of both the job and her coworker’s attitude. She was creating her own experience at work, and the results were that she fell back in love with the job and has experienced a great deal of satisfaction and far less stress.
Path #2: Moving On From Your Job With Integrity And No Baggage
Maryanne had a long, successful career at a local nonprofit, doing work she loved and believed in. But now, after 9 years, she felt the need for a new challenge. After taking steps to clean up some bad work habits, like not delegating enough, Maryann felt ready to begin the search for a new job.
In any new job search, it’s important to take control of the process in 3 ways:
- Look hard and deep at your living expenses and what you really need to earn to make ends meet and save for retirement. Track your expenses for at least a week (a month is better) and find out where all your money is going.
- Write the job description of your new job. What are the responsibilities, daily tasks, and compensation package for this new job you’ll be searching for? The clearer your vision of what you want to create, the easier it will be to find it, and for it to find you.
- Craft your compelling story — your resume. Writing a compelling resume, with a cover letter showing exactly how your skills and experience are exactly what the prospective employer is looking for, makes all the difference between getting a call and being overlooked. Check out www.myrightfitjob.com for great ideas and resources on making yourself irresistible to employers.
Following these three steps, Maryann found a new and rewarding job that challenges and excites her.
Path #3: Reframing Your Current Job: Transforming Your Experience and Living With The Job You’ve Got
Ever tell yourself one of these reasons you have to stay at your current job?
- I can’t afford to leave right now
- There’s nothing better out there
- It’s all I know
None of those reasons are very compelling, or bring a lot of joy to the 40 – 50 hours a week you spend related to your job.
But you can create compelling reasons to want to get up in the morning, even if your job isn’t the most meaningful work you’ve ever dreamed of doing.
Here are some suggestions:
- Be honest about why you’re at the job. To make money? Great! Nothing wrong with being financially responsible.
- Get real about exactly what’s uncomfortable about the job. When my client Sandy realized she felt like a fraud in parts of her job, she got over her initial embarrassment and asked for help and more training. Now, more confident and empowered, she’s feeling great about a job that used to stress her out.
- Be grateful for any and every aspect of the job you can be. Maybe you’ve met a new friend there, or you get great health benefits, or you have a beautiful view. (I once had a miserable job as a legal recruiter which was made bearable by the fact that it was on the 52nd floor of the Empire State Building — what a view!) Gratitude transforms.
What do Terry, Maryann, Sandy, and Arianna Huffington have in common?
• They all looked honestly at themselves and their situation.
• They assessed their needs, issues, and challenges and did as much inner work as they could to transform their situation.
• They followed through responsibly on the path that was right for them.
When I connected with Arianna Huffington over our shared decision to step down from a amazing job we loved and our shared mission of helping others thrive, she invited me to become a contributor for both the Huffington Post and her new nonprofit, Thrive Global! I’m honored and thrilled to lend my voice to the call for balance in work and life. I’ll keep you posted on my writing there.
What about you? Are you feeling burned out, or nearly so? I’d love to hear about your experience and which path you might want to explore. Please share your comments below.
All My Best,
P.S. Want to find out about the meaningful and rewarding work of life coaching? Get my free 3-part, no-obligation video series,
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