As I begin to pursue my dreams as a full time job I am faced with a situation that so many others are now or will be. How to work hard and passionately towards my dreams without burning out.
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To understand how to work towards your dreams we have to first evaluate what burnout looks like because you can’t avoid something if you don’t know what to watch for.
What does burnout look like?
Well it can look very different for everyone! There is really a scale of burnout and some people start at the bottom and move up and some people jump right to the top in a big, explosive episode of burnout.
For the sake of understanding burnout and what it looks like we will refer to these different results as levels but keep in mind they can be different for everyone and can come in different orders.
Level 1) Procrastination
The first thing that happens to most people when they are beginning to burnout is procrastination. You start putting off the tasks that you need to do whether or not those are the specific tasks that are making you feel burnt out.
Read more about pushing past procrastination here.
Level 2) Cutting corners
The next thing that can start to happen is cutting corner.
You have finally got up the motivation to perform the tasks you were procrastinating and now you are completing the tasks. However, when you are starting to burnout you start to cut corners. Your work stops being the same high quality because you are burning out from it.
Level 3) Anger towards work
About halfway through burning out a lot of people start to feel anger and resentment to their work.
That can either be at their company, their boss, their specific tasks, their job role etc. But you start to feel like you need something to blame for feeling like you are burning out.
Level 4) Feeling defeated
After anger frequently comes the feeling of defeat.
You feel that you have to complete all of these tasks and they are exhausting you and you start to question if it is worth it. The easiest way to determine if this is the level you are at is to ask your self if your energy level is the same as before? Because feeling defeated also makes you feel tired and unmotivated.
Level 5) Giving up on your dreams
The final stage of burnout is giving up.
Giving up on your dreams can look like quitting your job, changing your college major, shutting down your business, stopping working out, etc. Whatever your dream is that you were working towards that was causing the burnout.
Now you know what burnout looks like but what can cause you to get there?
What causes burnout?
1) Over committing your time
The first cause of burnout is the most obvious one.
You have over committed the time in your day. That may be all from work or a combination of work and personal commitments.
Either way, you have found yourself with way too many commitments each day and not nearly enough time to do them all. Much less to have time to take care of yourself.
2) Not knowing your path
Another factor that can cause you to burnout is not actually knowing your path.
If you don’t know either where you are headed in your life or if you have a dream but don’t know the path to get there, it can be exhausting and mentally draining.
3) Not being prepared for new challenges
When things get thrown at you without a warning it can be difficult to re-adjust. Leading to a period of time where you are still learning the new task/challenge/job and trying to balance everything else. Which can very quickly lead to burnout especially if this was a large task being thrown at you.
4) Lacking the right tools for success
Not having the right tools to succeed can not only lead to burnout but it can be incredibly frustrating and really sour your opinion of a job or career path.
This can be a lack of training, lack of actual physical tools, outdated systems, short staffed and so many other things. They can be a lot of small tools (like office supplies) lacking as well so if you are trying to identify what is causing your burnout make sure to check if there are a lot of small tools you are missing at work that could have you succeed.
5) Overly ambitious goals
The final thing that can really cause burnout is being way too ambitious with your goals.
Trying to work 4 jobs to get debt free in 1 year? Trying to lose 40 pounds in a month? Trying to become a CEO of a Fortune 500 company by 30 years old?
Those kind of super ambitious goals can push you too hard and make you burnout before you can get any where near them! Setting high goals and dreaming is important but make sure that your goals are not so crazy that they destroy you while you are trying to achieve them.
You now know what burnout looks like and how it can happen. So now the most important element, how you can actually avoid burning out.
How do you avoid burning out?
Tip 1) Do tasks with a purpose
If you do not know the purpose or reason behind tasks then those specific tasks are significantly more likely to burn you out.
This may involve asking yourself or your boss some important questions about why you are doing certain tasks. But asking those questions can lead to getting helpful knowledge and insight that can help you not burnout.
You may also discover that some time consuming tasks are actually not essential tasks.
Tip 2) Ask for help
Asking for help is an incredibly important step for not burning out.
It can be one of the most difficult ways to avoid burning out but it can also make the world of a difference in keeping you sane, healthy, and happy.
So don’t be afraid to ask your coworkers, family, or friends for help when you need it. It’s easy to feel like your inconveniencing others but there is a high chance that they already can see you are starting to burnout and that they would love the opportunity to help you.
Tip 3) Spend time with loved ones
Spending time with loved ones is the best mental way to help avoid burnout.
If possible, try to commit a no-work day once a week (most commonly people choose Sunday) and focus the whole day to spending time with your family and friends. If you can try to make it both fun and relaxing as well.
If you don’t live near loved ones then try to make sure and visit as often as you can and make frequent calls back home. This is especially important for college students and young professionals!
Tip 4) Disconnect for at least an hour a day
Disconnecting from your phone and email for at least an hour a day gives your brain some much needed rest from work and can do a lot for keeping you from burning out.
Note: this needs to be a consecutive hour! Not just 20 or 30 minutes intervals throughout your day.
Take the time to either be with loved ones, pursue a hobby completely different than your work, or just relax and unwind. Whatever brings you the most peace and happiness. That hour of happiness can do a lot for helping you stay motivated and on track.
Put that phone away in a phone jail for an hour and shut down your laptop!
Tip 5) Delegate when possible
The final tip for avoiding burnout is to delegate tasks whenever possible.
Delegating can be a difficult skill to learn at first but it is very important for avoiding burnout.
Delegating smaller or less important tasks to your employees or paying someone to accomplish time consuming tasks for you can really save you a lot of time and help you focus on more important tasks.
Lastly, if your career, job, business, goals etc. are causing you to burnout frequently and are causing you physical pain or hurting your mental health I strongly urge you to seek professional health. Your HEALTH and SAFETY are the most important things in the world!