Career burnout
Image: AFPics/Shutterstock

How to deal with career burnout

28 Mar 2018

Career burnout is an all-too-common affliction that occurs when you feel incapable of continuing with your current occupation – and it’s something Hays’ Alex Shteingardt has firsthand experience of.

Career burnout is a sure sign of career stagnation, usually resulting from frustration, disillusionment or boredom.

My experience came when I found myself investing all my energy into a job in the retail sector that was giving me very little back. It was frustrating and something I had to address before I regained my full health and happiness – but more on that later on.

The symptoms of burnout are: hyper-irritability, reluctance to go to work, negativity, loss of energy and apathy. To tackle burnout, you need to first identify the root causes. This can only be achieved by embarking upon a focused period of self-reflection, devoid of all distraction.

Ask yourself three fundamental questions:

  1. What is it that you don’t like about your current situation?
  2. What is it that you want to be doing instead?
  3. How are you going to get there?

Change your perspective

If you’re experiencing career burnout, then approach it as an opportunity for growth rather than the end of the road.

Don’t stubbornly ignore your burnout, forcing yourself to love a job that bores or frustrates you. Instead, take measures to improve your situation by refreshing or adding to your current skillset, thus opening up doors to new opportunities.

Maybe you want something different from life? Did you dream about interior design but your parents insisted on financial education? When we were younger, many of us chose our occupation unwittingly due to the time and financial pressures of getting onto the career ladder.

So, if you have become dissatisfied with your current role, do not be afraid of changing your career path. It’s never too late to broaden your horizons and discover talents that you never knew you had.

Listen to yourself

Ask yourself, ‘What do I actually care about?’ You probably have ambitions or passions that you have been putting off for years. Don’t worry – there are plenty of examples of when people have only discovered their true labour of love late in their professional career.

For instance, I realised that the retail business in which I was working at that time was absolutely not for me. I was pushing myself to really excel and succeed, and I managed but it cost me a lot of emotion, a lot of energy and I didn’t get any satisfaction from it.

I realised that it was destroying me, so I decided to quit and take four months out to understand what I actually wanted to do. I was looking for a job and trying to understand at the same time what job would be the best fit for me when I came across the recruitment industry.

I realised that it offered the variety I was missing. It was this component of communication with different people in different industries, and having to deal with their motivation, perspective, expertise and view, that appealed to me most. I only then realised that it was exactly what I was looking for.

So, I really have experienced burnout. I didn’t know what I wanted but I was brave enough to step out of the career that was killing me. 10 years after doing so, I’m happy to say, in my role as managing director of Hays Russia, that I made the right choice.

Assess your strengths and think where else your skills and experience can be used. It is essential to keep in mind that any new occupation should give you job satisfaction – this is the only way to advance your career with real fervour.

Independence and assistance

If you’re someone who struggles to identify your strengths and weaknesses independently, then don’t be too shy to ask for the advice of others. There are few people who are able to manage their own feelings in a fair and unbiased way.

A friend, family member or professional coach can help you recognise your fears and understand their nature with a fresh perspective. Occasionally, problems need to be approached from multiple angles before they can be solved satisfactorily.

Is your burnout intentional?

Experiencing career burnout is a significant moment in your life, and can be a turning point. It can be an indication that you’re at your breaking point.

Sometimes, you have to realise your maximum capacity and have the courage and belief in yourself to start building something completely new and exciting.

Enjoy the change, put yourself and your happiness first, get rid of your fears, cognise yourself, and keep pushing forward!

By Alex Shteingardt

Alex Shteingardt is managing director at Hays Russia.

A version of this article originally appeared on Hays’ Viewpoint blog.

Loading now, one moment please! Loading