Feeling Burnt Out After Work? Ask These Seven Questions to Figure Out Why
Though I have been self-employed for the last fifteen years, that hasn’t always been the case. I spent the first twenty years of my working life working for someone else. I can look back with fondness on almost every job I held — from retail to broadcasting to office work. And the thing is, feeling tired at the end of the workday is normal. However, my dear, if you find yourself not just tired, but feeling burnt out after work, that can mean something deeper is going on.
I know this because I had this one job that left me feeling burnt to a crisp by the end of the day.
It was in a call center taking orders for bathtubs. (Yep, bathtubs). This was during the post-911 recession and I needed the job to pay the bills. But I knew I couldn’t survive feeling burnt out ever day. Either the job had to change or my attitude needed adjusting. And the truth? It was a combination of both. And the only way to figure out the answer is to dig into why you are feeling burnt out after work.
If you find yourself feeling burnt out after work most days, then ask yourself these seven questions.
One — Are you feeling burnt out after work because you hate the work you are doing?
I am usually the kind of gal that can find something good about any situation. But my time at the bathtub call center? There wasn’t much I could find to like about it. It didn’t take advantage of my skill set and the actual work was boring and monotonous. There are only so many bathtub emergencies. I learned that if I am bored with the work, I feel burnt out.
You can’t always leave a job that you hate. Sometimes you have to stick it out, at least for a time. And you know what, sugarplum? We’ve all had to do things we dislike with a passion. That negativity sucks your energy right out of you.
Try to find a single moment of the day or portion of your job that you enjoy and focus on that. Really dig one particular activity? Lavish it with affection. Or, if nothing else, ensure that when you take a break, it nourishes you in some way. What got me through that job I hated? I packed my lunch each day. Then, I would spread out on a blanket under a tree. And eat my lunch there while I read a book.
If you know leaving is on the horizon, how can you make the most of your remaining time? Make a list of skills worth learning, or relationships worth cultivating. Do your job and do it well, but also focus on how your job can also work for YOU.
Two — Do you believe that the job you do isn’t “spiritual” enough?
Do you keep dreaming about doing work that “matters” or that you are meant’ for MORE in life? Are you constantly telling yourself that the work you are assigned to do is beneath you? Do you believe that work only matters if you love the work? (Here’s a secret, kitten. Doing what you “love” is overrated.”)
Now, the thing is that you are always in choice.
What I mean is this: my darling, if you want to create a life you love, then reminding yourself that you have a choice in everything you do will shift how you feel about all those things you do. Changing our mindset shifts how we feel. Remembering that we are obligated to do nothing and choosing to act opens us up to more within our own life.
Darling, if you believe you could do more, choose to do it. Apply for more jobs that fit your desired experience. And if you can’t right now, you can still choose to do your work from a place of service and love rather than from a place of obligation. This is a way to actively love our life despite challenging circumstances.
Three — Is a toxic work environment the reason you are feeling burnt out after work?
Another thing I disliked about that job? My co-workers. All they did was whine, complain, and gossip. If you’re like most people, this has happened to you: you were talking to someone and before you knew it, their complaints, their whining, their negative attitudes or their drama drained the life right out of you. They’re like energy vampires, sucking your energy and your joy in life.
No matter where those energy vampires may be hiding, learning how to rid your world of these life draining emotional monsters is crucial to living the life you truly desire. Otherwise, of course you are going to be feeling burnt out after work!
Brene Brown has found that energetic and engaged people tend to play. Play doesn’t have to be overly formal, involve balls or a team, or have winners and losers. Play can be almost anything, as long as it’s something you want to do, find enjoyable, and allows you to lose track of time and just have fun.
Oh, we were all in small cubicles with no personal decor allowed! A toxic environment is aggravated when there is no beauty to be found. If you can bring small luxuries to your work place — flowers, personalized coffee mugs, photos — that can help ease those burned out feelings.
Finding beauty in the now and doing what makes you feel alive can help combat the burnout of a difficult work environment.
Four — Is the Office Drama Queen staring back at you in the mirror?
Let’s be honest: drama is exhausting. If you hang out with drama queens, you will become one. And anyone that has been around drama knows how exhausting it can be! Remind yourself that someone else’s drama is not yours. Spend less time with those who fan the flames of drama.
Or maybe you are feeding the drama by complaining. When you complain, you choose to focus on the problem instead of seeking a solution. Complaining rewires your brain to the negative and shuts down your ability to problem solve. The more you complain, the more your brain will bring about those negative, thoughts. And the more drained of energy you will be.
Five — Are you feeling burnt out after work because you feel overworked, underpaid, and/or unappreciated?
The ways some companies save money is to assign too much work to too few workers. There are only so many hours in the work day. So, if you’re doing the work of two people, of course you’re going to be feeling burnt out after work. And, remember: if you have a negative attitude, maybe you aren’t working as hard as you could.
So take a hard look at your workload and have a heartfelt conversation with your boss.
Before you talk to your boss, also consider swapping tasks with co-workers, cross training, and delegating a task you hate to a co-worker that digs it. Are there interesting responsibilities within the organization that you could take over? Are there other positions within the company that seem like a better channel for your skills? Is it time for a raise?
The trick to keeping the same job and making it better is to go to your boss with potential solutions to the problem.
If you can’t change your workload, focus on what you can change — your perspective. Every night before you go to bed, write down at least three things you are thankful for. Remind yourself what’s good in your life. Falling asleep with grateful thoughts will cause you to wake up more positive. It rewires your brain for joy, and joyful people have more energy.
Six — Are you secretly longing for a totally different career?
You may be surprised to hear that feeling burnt out after work often begins after you have a major breakthrough. The resulting clarity can be both exhilarating and frustrating. Sometimes, the side affect to gaining clarity about what your deeper purpose is the root cause of feeling burnt out after work. That’s because you’ll likely also realize that your current job is disconnected from the work you now feel meant to do.
Frustration leads to dissatisfaction with your current reality. The tension of living in that scary, uncertain limbo between knowing what your purpose is and living it out drains you.
Want a totally different career? Channel the essence of that career into your current one. Need an example? I talked to a gal recently who wanted to be a life coach. We found the love she needed in the way she trains and treats new hires and the people that report to her. She learned to mentor them and treat them with love instead of treating them like a burden.
The job at the bathtub company? I was so burnt out after work that I knew something had to change. That’s when I began my company after my job at the bathtub company.
What is beautiful about the now? What makes you feel alive?
Seven — Is it possible that feeling burnt out after work has nothing to do with work?
Sometimes, it’s easy to blame our job when there are other things making us unhappy or frustrated.Sometimes, life in general is making us feel burnt out.
Examine your personal life and daily habits. How is your marriage? Is the sheer demand of managing both your work life, your home life, and raising kiddos making you feel exhausted? Are you getting enough sleep? How about exercise? Is comfort eating the way you deal with stress? Could depression or a health issue be at the root of why you’re feeling burnt out after work?
Remember, too, that feeling burnt out after work may be temporary. We all have weeks (or months) that are more challenging than others. Do you have a child who has been teething? Are you taking on a new project at work that’s particularly draining? Is your partner working later than usual (and therefore helping out at home less?)
Darling, you deserve to live a life you love. And a big part of that is finding some pleasure during the work day.
You don’t have to stay in a job you hate. And, of course feeling burnt out after work is going to affect how you feel about your life. Finding out why you are feeling the way you do can help you create real solutions to liking your job and loving your life.
Originally published at debrasmouse.com on August 13, 2018.