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The Top 3 Candidates for Burnout (and How to Avoid Being One of Them)

The Top 3 Candidates for Burnout (and How to Avoid Being One of Them)

    Even if you love your job, do too much of it, and you’ll hate it.

    That’s the conclusion of Mark Cullen of Stanford Medical School, who studies overworked execs. Pride yourself on your work stamina, how much you can take, and you can get taken—by the terminal exhaustion of burnout. That’s when productivity, not to mention your brain and body tank, but you can opt out of that.

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    Burnout is the last stage of chronic stress, and a job- and life-killer. If you’re good at endurance and believe your value lies in taking more of a pounding than the next person, you are a prime candidate for it. The irony of the professional world is that it’s the hardest workers who fall prey to burnout—1) the most conscientious, 2) the Type A’s, 3) the bravado warriors. They can take more, and so the usual warning signals of stress are ignored. The fact is that humans, as of yet, don’t have Pentium processors, only Red Bull and 5-Hour Energy.

    The hollowing-out of burnout happens gradually. Your body adapts to chronic stress so it looks like you’re handling things, but it’s an illusion. Adrenaline pumped out by the stress response masks the fact that it’s taking your body down and suppressing your immune system.

    Doctors say that when patients arrive with burnout symptoms, there is always a long prelude: Heart palpitations, headaches, back pain, insomnia, irritable bowel, hot flashes, exhaustion. Ignore the signals leading to burnout, and you can wind up adapting to the stress response until your resources are gone, no forwarding. Burnout can trigger stroke, depression and a host of things you can do without, not to mention reduce the sense of accomplishment, interest and joy in your life to zero.

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    Opt Out of Heroics

    Burnout is a three-way shutdown — mind, body, and emotions. It’s the depletion of all your energetic and emotional resources. The result is dramatically lower productivity, guilt, shame, cynicism, falling behind, not giving a whit about what you used to.

    One of the hallmarks of burnout is disengagement, the opposite of getting things done. This makes burnout a big problem for any organization, since it takes down the top talent. Productivity plummets for anyone with burnout, a cause of presenteeism—you’re there physically, but not mentally—and the sick days and medical bills mount.

    Preventing burnout takes a vigilant mind, paying attention to the stress signals and doing something about them, not gutting them out with heroics (which only prolongs and deepens the stress cycle). You have to be proactive and break out of autopilot.

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    Recognize and dump the behaviors that drive the burnout trap—work overload, perfectionism (see “How to Get Work Done Quickly by Not Being Perfect” ), no refueling or recreation, unviable schedules, nonstop busyness (check out this post, “3 Ways to Be Less Busy and More Productive”), chronic conflict, and giving too much of yourself emotionally. It’s also critical to build skills to communicate about key burnout funnels: lack of reward, control, and community, pieces organizations need to address too.

    You Do, Therefore You Are?

    You can turn down the stress by altering the way you do your tasks, deal with stress, expend emotion, and set boundaries. Regular recovery strategies are key to buffer stress and chronic exhaustion, which can be the start of the withdrawal from life that marks the downward spiral of burnout.

    The tendency to overdo it drives the burnout beast, so you’ll need to wean off compulsive behavior. Why is it so hard to turn off the go button and stop? It could be you are getting all your value from performance. When performance is the sum total of your identity, and you pull back from constant busyness and production, you have no value.

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    Do less, and you actually get more done, the research shows. And you just might like your job again.

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    The Top 3 Candidates for Burnout (and How to Avoid Being One of Them)

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    Last Updated on August 20, 2018

    What Highly Successful People Do Every Day To Perform At Their Best

    What Highly Successful People Do Every Day To Perform At Their Best

    What separates highly successful people from the “average crowd?” This is a topic that is widely discussed.

    If you want to be successful, you have to watch carefully what other successful people do and imitate them. While every successful person has his or her own unique approach, there are a couple thoughts and actions they have in common.

    Here are 7 habits many successful people have!

    1. They make a difference

    If you have an idea, that idea has to change peoples life’s. As long as you’re not helping other people, it’s useless. Don’t start with an activity or business primarily to make money, it won’t work. When you create fans by offering your expertise, they are willing to pay for it. The problem with today’s entrepreneurial mindset is that’s all about “quick” money and not necessarily about making a difference.

    “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” — Albert Einstein

    2. They focus on productivity instead of on being busy

    Do you know those people who always say they can’t meet up with you or help with a certain thing because they’re always busy? I do, and to be honest I was one of them.

    When I look back, I don’t actually know with what I was being busy. I thought I was being busy, but now I realize I could have done many things in a much more productive way.

    Is 8 hours of work actually 8 hours when you’re checking your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram updates every 30 minutes? It’s necessary to take a rest once a while, but don’t get lost in hundreds of status updates that make you forget about your priorities.

    Looking for some tips? Check out this infographic: How to be productive by doing more and working less

    3. They keep setting S.M.A.R.T. goals

    You can never reach the success you want if you’re not setting goals. The trick is to set up a couple small, achievable goals and a couple of bigger ones. If you only set up huge, unachievable goals, you’ll get unmotivated and fall back into your old mindset. The small goals keep you motivated and give you the feeling you’re being productive once you achieve them.

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    Try setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, which is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. These goals are concrete and well-defined measures of your progress.

    A while ago, I asked a friend of mine what his goal was this year. He told me he wanted a sports car. I told him he will have much trouble reaching that goal because it isn’t specific. He needs to know the brand, the model, the color, what kind of rims etc. Only then he can define how long it’s going to take and what he needs to do in order to buy that car.

    4. They take action

    There is a big difference between talking or actually taking action. I’m pretty sure you have people around you who’ve said, “This year, I’m going to lose weight, become fit, and look like I’ve never looked before!” Or, “I’ve got such a good idea, I’m planning to start a new business, but first I’m going to do some research,” which probably results in never taking any action.

    Many of those people do take action, but the majority do not. It could be many things that keep them from taking action, like fear, no money, or no motivation. The trick is to make a plan and take action right from the start—choose to put in the effort to overcome those obstacles.

    5. They exercise and eat right

    The better you treat your body, the better you will feel, which results in better results. Successful people take time to prepare healthy meals and work out for at least 30 minutes a day.

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    Not having time to work out or prepare a healthy meal is nonsense. If you have time to watch TV or check your social media profile, you also have time to care about your body.

    You don’t necessarily need to lose weight or gain muscle, but try to stay in shape and watch your junk food intake.

    6. They always step out of their comfort-zone

    Successful people are willing to do everything they have to succeed. If they fail, they try it again and learn from it. The vast majority of people think differently and want to stay in their comfort zone.

    You can’t expect magic is going to happen when you always do the same things over and over again. You need to step up and start doing new things. The fear of failure is usually the reason that keeps people from acting.

    Think about something you’ve done in the past. Something that was so scary that it made you sweat, feel nauseous, or become overly nervous. That could be giving a speech in front of a big crowd or asking someone on a date. In the end, it wasn’t as scary and difficult as you thought, right? And you’ve learned from it.

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    Approach everything in your life this way. If you really want to become successful, you need to step out of your comfort zone.

    “Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” — Brian Tracy

    7. They lead

    Successful people are also incredibly good leaders. How can you stand out of the crowd if you follow the herd like anyone else does? The main thing successful people do differently is that they think and act differently from the rest. But they do it in a way that creates fans who follow and support them.

    You don’t have to be a born leader, but you can learn to be one. An example of a great leader and entrepreneur is Elon Musk. He is the founder of SpaceX and co-founder of Zip2, PayPal, and Tesla Motors. By following his example, you just might find the great leader inside you.

    Have these tips helped you? Share them!

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    Featured photo credit: Steve Jurvetson via flickr.com

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