Tarun Kohli


How to avoid burnout

I had been staring at my screen since the last 2 hours. I had browsed through hundreds of pages but couldn’t recall any.

This mindlessness had become a recurring trend in the last 6 weeks. My body came to work with a big silver padlock on my mind.

The burden of the uncompleted tasks on my to-do lists had become unbearable. I saw but wasn’t awake. I went to meetings but wasn’t immersed. I heard but didn’t listen. Even typing on the keyboard made a cacophony rather than the symphony I used to hear.

It felt like someone had thrown my heart in the Arctic.

Looking back, I had lost my drive. Or maybe I was trying to discover something. Now I know what I was looking for.

My mojo.

You see I’m kind of a person who looks for ways to get better. Constantly. So much that I don’t even know how to enjoy the present accomplishments. Yeah, God forgot to put the contentment gene in me.

And I had been thrown in an environment where I wasn’t appreciated for challenging the status quo. I got burned out after being stonewalled for a long time.

Yes! A Burnout.

Where your spirit gets burned but one can’t see the scars on your body.

I got burnt out because I wasn’t valued enough. I didn’t feel challenged enough. I didn’t see a spark in my colleagues to become better. To make a difference. Yeah, it could be the ideas which I shared were completely worthless but I didn’t hear their enthusiasm about getting better either.

I ended up resuscitating myself by leaving. I didn’t realize that I had a choice apart from quitting. But, most of the times, one does. One can stay and overcome the feelings of hopelessness.

I wondered if I was the only unfortunate one.

As it turns out, my story isn’t merely mine. A lot of people get burned out but the reasons differ.

I wasn’t stressed or tired from overworking. My reason was depletion of self-worth. Working for long hours didn’t trouble me, loss of purpose got me.

Your reasons of burnout might be different- too much work accompanied by too much micromanagement, a dysfunctional and uncaring team, lack of appreciation for good work, lack of development opportunities and out-of-whack alignment with organization’s purpose or goals.

When it happens, the symptoms are more or less the same — detachment from work, taking everything in life for granted, lack of productivity and excitement at work, constant exhaustion and always feeling emotionally drained, and have this burning desire to never see your manager/lead’s face, followed by hopelessness in failing to do so, followed by more dread.

Want to know more symptoms of burnout? Ten signs that you are burned out.

But, wait. What is it really? Are there specific types of burnouts? Yes, there are. To be precise, there are three types of burnouts.

Can a burnout be avoided?

There is a lot of good research available to avoid burning out. My favorite- 3 ways from research to avoid burnout, 7 strategic ways to avoid burnout and finally, 11 ways to avoid the burnout (the arithmetic progression pun isn’t intended)

Can it be overcome?

Most people (including me) choose to quit their job. While that might look like the only option, I would suggest to keep it as a last option. Here’s how you can cure your burnout without quitting your job.

You could also follow these 4 things that will make you happy at work. It totally works.

And if nothing works out, it’s time to move on. Maybe. :(

Wish you success and happiness in whatever you end up deciding.

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