Preventing BurnoutApril 18, 2011
I read an article in Forbes last weekend in answer to “Can you prevent burnout?” The focus was on entrepreneurs, but I think some of the advice fits busy corporate professionals as well. In a nutshell, here is the advice from the expert, Steven Berglas, Ph.D.:
- Get Real. Perfectionists are prone to burnout. They constantly chase perfection but rarely (if ever) achieve it. This negatively impacts their self-esteem. While mild perfectionism can be a powerful motivator, trying to reach unrealistically high goals is a set-up for burnout. And if second place is never good enough for you, Dr. Berglas goes so far as to say that you’re in the market for a severe case of depression. Set reasonable goals and met them and you will stay emotionally involved in your work and keep burnout at bay.
- Invest in You. Too many people think “I am what I do.” But what happens when the project is over or there is an organizational realignment, or technologies change and your position is no longer required? Staying yoked to business or a project can lead to crippling boredom and displeasure that no hobby can cure. Focus instead on your personal brand. Look for opportunities that expand on what you’re already good at and you won’t get burned out.
- Triple Task. Pablo Picasso found a great antidote for burnout: He made sure his workshop teemed with projects in various stages of completion. If the great artist lost touch with his muse or just got bored with a project, he didn’t have to spin more than 15 degrees in any direction to find a novel challenge. That may sound overwhelming or inefficient, but when you’re feeling trapped and uninspired, better to have a bevy of interesting tasks (that aren’t time-sensitive) to chew on rather than a crisp yet boring to-do list.