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Feeling Burned Out in Your Career? Here are 5 Action Steps to Take

Own It: It's a hard thing to admit to yourself – let alone anyone else – that you’re feeling burned out. The first step to moving forward is owning that you're feeling stuck and deciding that you want to do something about it. (Don't worry you don't have to know what it is yet!)

Talk About It: Feeling burned out can be a lonely and isolating experience, and it's important to know that you’re not alone in having those feelings. Sometimes people experience a lot of shame around their stuckness (“I have a good life and a good job – what’s wrong with me?”), and nothing good ever comes from being stuck in a shame hole. Talk with your friends and colleagues about how you’re feeling, and you’ll quickly realize that many people are experiencing something similar. It doesn’t fix it, but it’s nice to know you’re not alone in how you’re feeling.

Read Up on It: There is so much written about burnout! It's a real thing. Understanding the steps in the recovery process can be helpful in setting realistic expectations for what it means to move through it.

Take Space From It: What are easy things that make you happy? Do some of those things, no matter how frivolous or silly they might seem. Making cookies (or just eating the dough), window shopping, feeding the ducks, taking a bath (without anyone visiting you in the bathroom)?

Being burned out is like having gas drained out of your car. It’s important to find a way to refill the tank so that you have the energy to do the work of finding a new way to do your current job or to find a new job.

Think About It: Burnout is tricky because we experience it globally, but often there are a few specific things that are triggering the exhaustion. Ask yourself:

  • What are the aspects of my job that I really enjoy?

  • What are the parts of my job that really drain me?

You can think about it in terms of the people, the places, and the projects you interact with at work:

  • Who are the types of colleagues that you love, and which ones drive you nuts?

  • Are there specific groups of people or physical locations that you enjoy, or ones that make it difficult for you to do your best work?

  • What are the specific activities in your day-to-day job that you look forward to doing? Which are the ones that you tend to put off as long as possible?

Getting clear about the specifics of what is rewarding versus what is draining can clarify decision points for moving forward. Additionally, all of these questions can help you identify your strengths. This is key to putting the pieces of your life in the proportions that work for you and making sure you're spending time doing more of the things you love and less of the things you don’t.

Dr. Ariela Freedman is a Gallup-certified CliftonStrengths coach based in Atlanta, GA. Her online career coaching program, Compass Within, helps people leave toxic workplaces and find jobs they enjoy. Connect with Dr. Freedman on social media at:

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