I've decided to do a little series on job burnout. I had it- big time- and I think it would be helpful for people to know the symptoms so if you spot an employee with some of the characteristics of burnout, you can stop it in it's tracks by offering some helpful advice. I've read a couple of books that have some great insight for those future and current managers of people. One is called I Quit But I Forgot To Tell You which is all about burnout and the other is Make Every Second Count which has a little blurb about burnout. I think the "I Quit" book should be required reading for every manager new and old- she is spot on about cases where burnout has gone to the point of being irreversible. I think it's a little too late for me actually following her book- but maybe some of the insights catalouged below can help someone else. Instead of providing book reviews (read those on Amazon if you are interested), I figured I'd walk through some common symptoms of burnout and catalog my experience.
This is the last post in the serious problems category- next week we will start focusing on the fixes.
Just one more thing-- Have you ever had that job that was so avoidable that you would almost intentionally be late in the morning? I've faced a clean kitchen that really needed another good scrubbing and a closet that I should spend a few minutes organizing just to add to the time it would take me to get out the door. I've heard of people being physically ill at the thought of returning Monday morning. I know the paycheck is nice and consistent but what payback are you providing to your friends and family? I'm sure you're a peach to hang out with while you are nauseated at the thought of heading out in the morning. Analyze how you might subconsciously add tasks to increase your home time. If you find you are sabotaging your daily schedule- you have a serious case of job avoidance and burnout.
Sometimes it's not the company and it's not the work- it's all you. If you find that you have no motivation to get to the job and no motivation to seek a similar job with another employer, it's probably time to do some deep soul searching to figure out what attracted you the you field or specialty in the first place. Maybe your father was an accountant and it seemed a logical thing to do at the time. Perhaps you loved tinkering with projects in the garage but after getting an engineering degree, realizing that your passion was still only garage level. Think about changing fields. It's not always as hard as it first looks. The skills you learned in your current job are transferable if you look at them from the right perspective. Maybe your technical skills would be better served in sales where you can get out of the lab and still talk the talk. Even if profession hopping from software guy to photographer, you can probably find a skill set that applies to database design for your photography business that you can then package and sell as a commodity item to other studios. Look for an analog to the new dream from the current skill set and the transition will seem less daunting. You could start a small online business working nights and weekends-- perhaps eventually your passion may shine through to a level that lets you quit your day job.