No job is perfect, and if there's one thing workers across all industries are likely to experience at some point, it's a moderate dose of general dissatisfaction. But there comes a point when job-related unhappiness can take a dangerous turn, so much so that you risk falling victim to burnout.
Though it might seem like nothing more than a buzz word, burnout has an actual medical definition. Specifically, the Mayo Clinic describes it as "a state of physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion, combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work." And that doesn't sound like the sort of state you want to reach. With that in mind, here are a few warning signs that you're on the path to burnout -- or, worse yet, are already there.
1. You're having trouble concentrating
We all face our share of distractions at the office, but if you've reached the point where you're struggling to focus on short-term tasks, or the ones you perform regularly, then burnout could be to blame. Burnout can mess with your ability to concentrate, thus creating a situation where you risk missing deadlines or making critical mistakes that could affect your performance.
2. You don't care about producing results
We all have certain tasks that are hardly high-profile, and as such, we don't always give them our all. But if you're assigned a major project or presentation and you couldn't care less about how it turns out, it could be a sign that you're already deep in the throes of burnout.
3. Praise doesn't make you feel better about your work
It's always nice to hear encouraging words from your manager and peers. But if hearing others laud your accomplishments doesn't do a thing to improve your outlook, then it could be that you're too burned out to care.
4. You have nothing creative to contribute
We all have days when we feel like we're stuck in a rut. But if you can't remember the last time you pitched a new idea or different approach to an existing process, it could be that your brain is in the midst of a silent burnout-induced protest.
5. You start to resent your manager and co-workers
There's no rule stating that you have to adore your manager or become best friends with your co-workers. But if you find that you're starting to have ill feelings toward them when you used to get along just fine, it could be that you're so burned out you don't know what to do with yourself. And that's where you need to be careful, because lashing out at a colleague or, worse yet, your boss, as a result of your own personal frustrations could result in some serious consequences.
Fighting back against burnout
If you're convinced by now that you've been plagued with work-related burnout, your best bet is to address the problem before it causes your job to get compromised. Specifically:
- Talk it out. Confide in your manager and ask for help in addressing the issues that are getting to you the most. This could mean having a few assignments taken off your plate for the coming weeks while you take a step back to sort things through.
- Take a break. Sometimes, the best way to treat burnout is to remove yourself from the situation that's causing you such misery. If you have vacation time available, use it. Otherwise, ask your manager for a week off without pay. You might even consider a leave of absence if you feel the problem has truly gotten bad.
- Mix it up. It's hard to feel good about your work when you're doing the same exact set of tasks day in, day out. If you're feeling burned out, ask to dabble in new assignments, or take on projects that interest you independently.
- Consider a change. A big part of feeling burned out could stem from being stuck in the same role for too long. If, despite your manager's support, your outlook doesn't seem to improve, you might consider moving to a new position, or a different company altogether. Sometimes, it takes a change of environment and pace to make burnout subside.
Given the amount of time most of us spend on the job, it's critical to address burnout before it impacts not just your performance, but your personal life as well. If any of the above signs resonate all too well, take steps to fight back before burnout gets the better of you. Your career and well-being depend on it.
The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.