I was one of the lucky ones who didn’t have an “unemployed” tag hanging around my neck for long after graduation. I got a job within a couple of months of passing out of college and was quite proud of my achievement.
Everything was great for about 5 years. I quickly climbed up the corporate ladder and was made the Manager of my Department, far sooner than is normal. I had a good lucrative pay packet and of course the perks of an executive. But was it too good to last, in hindsight I wonder now. Instead of being perpetually on a high, I began to feel low. A time came when the very thought of my desk, my co-workers and facing my boss would make me mentally scream. If I could pick between lying at home sick and reporting for work I would choose the former.
Why was this so? This is what burnout at work is really all about. However, before I go on to how I coped with burnout, let me say what it actually is. Burnout is being physically and mentally drained of strength and motivation due to long term stress and frustration. More employees today work hard long hours not just to prove their worth but to get over an inner fear that they might be sacked. Again, workers feel that they are not being adequately compensated for their efforts. All these result in pent up emotions and feelings that adversely affects the mental stability of employees.
My reason for burnout I analysed later was a nagging though that I was not being adequately rewarded for my performance. To drive home this point to my boss, I began to work harder and harder and started keeping longer hours. However, I was unable to cope for long and decided that I had to do something to get clear of this burnout issue.
The first step that I took was slowing down my hyperactive state of being. Initially I found it difficult but managed to force myself into it. For too long I had been driven by my career and had not taken a vacation. I went off on one and spent about three weeks simply lazing around the beaches of Bondi, Sydney. It was really long overdue and it felt so good not getting ready for work in the morning.
The process of rejuvenation carried on even after I returned. I decided to stop carrying work home. It was difficult but I managed this too. My next step was leaving office on time. First it was once a week, then twice and then most days in a week. I planned out my day’s work in the morning to finish by closing time and then went out of my way to stick to schedule.
It has really been a happy ending for me and now I am a very satisfied employee of my company, a far cry from the mental wreck that I had become.