When a client came in today complaining about her job, I told her this story about a breakfast meeting I had with a friend.:
I met my friend for breakfast. She wanted to know if I could help her. In some ways, it was a typical breakfast meeting. The waitress was pleasant; the eggs were average; the restaurant was full of busy people. We shared a cup of black coffee-like substance, and the first few times my friend took a sip, she managed to spill quite a bit of it. Her trembling hand was just one of the symptoms of burnout.
I picked up a fork and explained that as long as I used it for eating, the fork would last indefinitely. However, if I began to use it to drive nails or dig trenches, it would soon break. The key was to use it for what it was designed to do.
The look in her eyes told me she got it, but I still went on to say that people are like the fork. When they do what they are not designed to do, they eventually break.
Is it time to change careers?
Sure enough, her MAPP www.assessment.com showed that she was designed to work on projects where there was a definite goal. She derived immense satisfaction from reaching goals and needed to work by herself about half the time. She was a scientist and enjoyed lab time, doing calculations, and interpreting test results.
What her job required on a day-to-day basis was another story. Her primary task was to supervise a dozen people and maintain operations. No goals. No projects. No time alone. Consequently, her job was sucking the life out of her.
Much credit for her recovery goes to her boss who was willing to change the job content to fit the design of a valuable employee.
Signs of Burnout
So how do you know if you, a loved one, or someone who reports to you is suffering from burnout? Here are the early warning signs:
- Chronic fatigue – exhaustion, tiredness, a sense of being physically run down
- Anger at those who are making demands
- Self-criticism for putting up with the demands
- Cynicism, negativity, and irritability
- A sense of being besieged
- Exploding easily at seemingly inconsequential things
- Frequent headaches and gastrointestinal disturbance
- Weight loss or gain
- Sleeplessness and depression
- Shortness of breath
- Feelings of helplessness
- Increased degree of risk taking
Get a free assessment
The MAPP Test (Motivational Appraisal of Personal Potential www.assessment.com) may help you find a more satisfying career. What does it say about you? What you are naturally motivated toward in your work? Sometimes a simple change at work can help you avoid many, if not all, of the early warning signs of burnout.
If you want some guidance in relieving burnout, I’d love to help you. Please give me a call at 404.518.0828 to set up an appointment. I look forward to your call. Dr. Sharman Colosetti