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7 Warning Signs of Career Burnout to Recognize Before It’s Too Late

Topics: Career Advice
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Are you the go-to person at your office, the team member who’s always willing to put in overtime and go the extra mile? You might think that you’re doing the best possible thing for your career, but if you push yourself too hard, you could erase all the gains from your hard work.

There’s a tipping point at which even the most dedicated employee starts feeling overworked. Learn to recognize the signs of burnout, and you might just save your career:

1. You live with chronic stress.

Just because something is common, that doesn’t mean it’s okay. Job pressure is the leading source of stress for Americans by far. When you’re highly stressed over a long period of time, there can eventually be real health consequences. Contrary to what our culture teaches us, it’s not healthy to regularly experience anxiety, insomnia, agitation or low energy. These and other indicators of chronic stress are warning signs that you need slow down a little or things will probably just get worse.

2. You struggle with perfectionism.

Failure is essential for success. How else can you learn perseverance and test out new ideas? Still, many workers feel a tremendous pressure from their employers to be basically flawless. This expectation can encourage a certain perfectionist mentality. But, perfectionism generally holds you back — in a lot of ways. Mainly, it makes it more difficult to enjoy your life and your job. Over time, these kinds of struggles drain you, and they can ultimately lead to total burnout.

3. Your workload is overwhelming.

You could be headed for burnout if you’re constantly battling a seemingly insurmountable workload. Thirty-six percent of workers said that their workload was a source of stress in a 2016 survey. Also, 31 percent said that “people issues” at work caused them stress. When problems like these persist, they can really start to take a toll. It’s hard to work with difficult people, but it might serve you to actively cultivate some proactive strategies for doing so.

4. You’re a high performer who never logs off.

Ambition is a wonderful thing, but if it’s untempered by moderation and rest, it can be damaging. Still, it’s hard to unplug from work and take time away. However, these mental breaks are essential if we’re to avoid burnout.

“Even if you work a job where you’re not checking e-mail all the time, as a society we are more and more inundated with incoming streams of information, which can lead to a general sense of being overwhelmed, making individuals more susceptible to burnout,” Mollie Lombardi, co-founder and CEO of Aptitude Research Partners, tells the Society for Human Resource Management. “My hunch is that high-performers may be even more susceptible because they want to be involved, want to take on more things, but the ‘always on’ connection can turn a positive desire into an overwhelming avalanche.”

5. You don’t feel like yourself physically or mentally.

Chronic work stress can build up over time. Eventually, difficult or otherwise unpleasant feelings and emotions may start to surface. You might feel disconnected at work or at home. Or, you may find you get angry or lash out more than you should. You might notice that you’re getting sick a lot, have frequent headaches, backaches, or that you often feel mentally drained. These are signs of burnout and should be taken seriously.

6. You have trouble saying no.

You have to be able to draw lines and say when enough is enough. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself for total overload and a potential meltdown. So, learn how to say no. These days, it’s an important survival skill if you’d like to have a long and successful career.

7. You’re constantly rushing.

Rushing around from place to place and task to task is another sign that burnout might be about to come knocking on your door. Being productive and being busy aren’t the same thing. The truth of the matter is that successful people don’t work all the time — and for good reason. You’ll get more done when you’re rested.

If you recognize several of the above warning signs, consider taking further action to prevent burnout from really taking hold. Too often people ignore these kinds of symptoms and simply accept them as a normal part of working life.

“Quite honestly in America we glorify stress,” Christina Maslach, who devised the Maslach Burnout Inventory, tells The New York Times. “And that’s another thing that leads people to be quiet and shut up about some of the stressors they’re facing because they don’t want to be viewed about not doing their best.”

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