Bumps in the road? Yup, they come along. Road blocks? Absolutely. But every so often after cruising along for a while at high speed, it happens (cue dreadful ominous tones): Burnout.
As a Career Girl, you likely push yourself beyond your limits and strive for high levels of success, which hopefully gives you a huge sense of accomplishment and happiness. That full speed, go and get it kind of lifestyle has become so normal to American working women, that we don’t even second guess it anymore. The 40 hour work week has been abandoned by many for longer hours and more days to keep up with growing competition and expectations in the work force.
That lifestyle can be fun, exciting, and make you feel like a rock star, but only for awhile. Soon high levels of stress and exhaustion set in, and maintaining that for too long can have serious consequences. Burnout is quite literally your system rebelling against too much hard work. But, how do you know if you are on the road to burnout? And how do you avoid it?
Caution: Burnout lies ahead!
- Lack of Interest: That really cool new job suddenly doesn’t seem so grand. And the project that once got you all jazzed up and leaping out of bed in the morning appears more like a burden. Motivation doesn’t come as easily, and you may begin to look for more extreme ways to find your thrills (like that triple martini after work).
- Physical Exhaustion: Your normal butt-kicking spin class or morning yoga session with your girlfriends just doesn’t seem possible anymore. Hell, you don’t even want to walk to Sprinkles Cupcakes for cardio. Even after a good 8 hours of sleep, you are still tired. You might even hope you get sick, so you can lie in bed for 14 hours straight and veg out. If your body is calling it quits, its probably about to shut down whether you want that or not.
- Emotional Train Wreck: It’s totally normal to feel moody, upset, frustrated, or hopeless when your approaching burnout. It would feel similar to being plagued with constant PMS. This isn’t your normal way of behaving, and your wine glass may seem half empty rather than half full. The upside is for the first time in your life you would make a very interesting participant in “The Real World.”
- Detachment: High levels of exhaustion leaves little to no energy left for your social life. Disengagement with friends, family, and romantic partners if another telltale sign of burnout. Pushing people away, flaking on plans, and spending copious amounts of time alone is your body’s way of telling you it needs to recharge NOW.
The best way to avoid burnout is to recognize these warning signs BEFORE you get there. It is so much easier to take the steps to change when you still have the momentum and inspiration to move forward. Create clear non-negotiable limits for yourself, and stick to them. And most importantly remember that your not going to be the best boss, co-worker, parent, or girlfriend in the flames of a burnout melt down. Hit the brakes on a few things this week, you’ll thank me later.