It’s Monday. Again. If you’re dreading work, it could that you just need a little break, a mini vacation to boost your morale and not want to stab your eyes out heading into work. This could be a sign of burnout, nothing more. People tend to get burnt out on jobs, but in some cases, it's only a passing phase. But there’s a chance that Monday dread means this job isn’t right for you anymore. Often, signs of burnout like depression, low energy or cynicism can be signs that you really just hate your job and need a new career. But distinguishing between the two can get tricky, and sometimes will just rely on your gut instinct. But there are some ways to access whether you need a new career path or are just burnt out. To find out if you’re burnt out or need a new career, mentally walk through your attitude and position at work to see if you need to prescribe yourself a vacation or a move.
Is it Physical?
Burnout can have a physical impact on your body. Doing something you dread every day can really take its toll on your body. Burnout can manifest itself through headaches, stomach issues, panic attacks or backaches. If you’ve been feeling poorly, go visit your doctors. This unwarranted stress from disliking your job so much can make you ill. If you visit your doctor and are able to find solutions, great! If you can brainstorm some ideas that could make your situation better, even better! But if you see no way out of your current work situation, it might be more than just burnout. Your body could be telling you you’re just done.
Does it Bore You?
We’ve all had days where we’re sick. Sick of meetings, sick of phone calls, sick of emails. But meeting fatigue can be easily shuffled and handled. You can’t avoid all of them, but there are ways to decrease their number and/or occurrences. If you can, get rid of inefficient meetings and replace them with email, or schedule them during a better time. However, if these meetings are boring you or if you feel ignored, it could be time for a career change. If you’ve stopped investing or speaking up in meetings, if you’re not interested in current projects try finding an environment where you’re excited to contribute and where people will acknowledge and appreciate it. Take some time to beef up your resume with online courses such as medical assistant programs or teach yourself to code. Then go out and find something new.
Are You Overlooked?
Most often during burnout our performance slips. We start to lose care in our tasks and our energy plummets. It’s also possible that your performance has lost its edge due to the struggle of learning a new skill. In that case, take a step back and then try again a couple days later. Or get someone else involved to help mentor or train you. If you’ve received poor feedback, don’t fall apart. Analyze whether you were really engaged or not. But if you were completely, whole-heartedly in the thick of it and your boss isn't appreciating your work--that’s another story. Set a meeting to discuss with your boss how you can meet expectations, or to get on the same page, especially if you both disagree with your performance level. If that page can’t be met or if other hard work isn’t acknowledge, get out of there.
Can You be Yourself?
You may not totally jive with Nancy and Cindy about their weekend spa retreats or want to talk football at the water cooler everyday, but that doesn’t mean you’re in the wrong career. Small talk is often necessary for having good relations with coworkers, having a friend in the office is even better. Even if it’s just one. But if you feel like you can’t talk to anyone out of fear of judgement, ridicule or criticism regarding anything from the shows you watch to your religious beliefs, that’s not ok. Being accepted is not only a fundamental principle for life outside of work, it should also be a fundamental principle in any work environment. Whether you prefer the opera to a night in, you should feel like you can be yourself at work. And if your co-workers negative attitudes and gossip start to rub off on you, or if you don’t believe in the mission of the company, it may not just be a phase anymore and it may be time to start searching for a new job.
Do the Small Things Annoy You?
Minor annoyances are actually more of a sign of burnout than the need for a total career change. Being the one to always change the water cooler, fix the copier, or tidy up the break room can easily start to chip away at a person. If these little annoyances send you into a flutter, try to make a bigger work-life balance shift. Make sure you leave at quitting time and when you’re home--be home, don’t obsess over work or check emails.
One great way to handle burnout is to avoid stressors. Take a long weekend, if not a full 2 week vacation off. Call in sick for a mental health day and take care of yourself for the day to recharge. Try to delegate unnecessary jobs to others. You have the capacity to change certain aspects of the job (there are of course some things you just can’t like the culture).
A good career or career path can have you planning years in advance. You have a vision of where you see yourself in the company in five years, you strategize months in advance and you love to solve the everyday problems. This is because you’re excited about what you’re doing. But if you’ve lost that focus or never had it, it’s possible this isn’t where you should be. If you can’t see a way to improve your situation, or if a vacation doesn’t bring that spark back, it may be time to go. If your current job is having trouble igniting your innovation and creativity, or even just your passion for work, you could be ready for a little change.
If you’re worried you have burnout or are ready for a big change, work through these questions and steps to assess whether you need a good mental health day in bed or if it’s time to say goodbye.