When Work Burnout Wins
By Angela Ghaly
Coffee lover. Travel enthusiast. Writing from the heart.
It seems like many things in life come down to winning and losing. No, there may not be a trophy for every “win,” but the stakes are much higher than a prestigious award. The stakes are the very legacy of your life—and you definitely want to be able to put that in the “win” pile.
For the past few months, I feel like I have been in a season of losses. It started this past October when my career careened off course. I was a 2nd grade teacher for over 3 years. It was all I had known, but it was also my place of confidence and comfort—two things that lead to complacency. So, when I was told my school was losing my 2nd grade unit (the class assigned to me) and that to maintain my position at the school I was teaching I would have move down to kindergarten, I tried to look at it as a challenge, rather than the end of the line for my teaching career. After all, I was still a young teacher; I should be able to quickly adapt to the new world of kindergarten. For the most part, I enjoy change for the adventure it brings.
But this was not the case. This was not the adventure I tried to convince myself it would be. This was not the challenge I could brag to my friends about overcoming. This was the monster that had me bursting into tears from the stress of it all. The unimaginable weight pressed heavily on me—affecting my sleep, my physical health, my emotional state of mind, my appetite, my moods.
It finally became too much. I had given kindergarten my best effort, and it wasn’t for me. So I resigned. Work burnout had won. I had lost. Or so it felt.
The more I came to grips with my decision, the more I felt peace. Different friends and acquaintances said I was “glowing” or “looked happier than last time we hung out” or “looked like the weight of the world had fallen off [my] shoulders.” With each unsolicited yet affirming comment, my confidence that I made the right choice for myself increased. And I am learning to make the most of my life now. I am learning to discover my dreams and then pursue them. I am learning I have so much to offer the world. I am learning I am not replaceable like I felt in my old position. I valuable.
And so are you. You are valuable and have so much to offer. I would hate to see work burnout win in your life—it sneaks in so quickly and so quietly that it can be hard to combat. So what can you do when you feel like your career is sucking the life out of you—but you don’t want or are unable to quit?
Establish new routines.
Look for new experiences. One of my favorite things to do is take my laptop to a coffee shop and get some work done. Or I listen to music. Or I fill and then empty my Amazon cart. Whatever is a release for me in that moment. Something else I recommend is take some time and plan something exciting for your future. It can be as soon as this weekend or maybe it’s a year away. Just planning something (really planning) gives you something to anticipate and get excited about. Maybe it’s a trip somewhere, maybe it’s a concert. It doesn’t matter. Make a plan and follow through when the time comes. A simple change of scenery can do wonders to clear your head.
Invest in creative outlets.
Creativity is a powerful tool. You will learn more about yourself and your passions. You will probably astound yourself with what you have the ability to create. The more you create, the more you will want to create. Music, photography, painting, drawing, writing—there is no limit on what you can create with today’s tools and technologies. As the saying goes, “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” So get busy dreaming! There’s a world awaiting your touch to come to life. Society needs what you have to contribute, but the release you find in your creative medium benefits you as much as society— it’s the perfect win-win scenario!
Take care of yourself. This should go without saying, but we all need to be reminded to take care of ourselves. That may look like a run on the beach, or perhaps take your dog for an extra half-mile in your neighborhood. That may look like an entire season of “Friends,” or perhaps it’s the latest episode of “Game of Thrones.” That may look like cooking a new meal, or perhaps going out to your favorite restaurant. Feed your soul. Whatever taking care of yourself looks like, it’s important that you do it. Only you know what makes you come alive; be intentional to invest in yourself—your well-being, your joy, your sense of peace are at stake. It’s worth the sacrifice of time to take proper care of your health.