Reading articles on the Great Resignation and talking to clients through this pandemic season, many voice burnout from the last two years and their need for change, not returning to their old life.
I would contend that in many cases, especially in our careers, the pandemic didn’t cause burnout; it exposed it. Burnout doesn’t occur overnight. It is extended time with negative stress. It is the pressure that all of the responsibility is on us and there is no way out. (Note that those of us who have co-dependent natures are at even greater risk of burning out. We have an overactive sense of rescuing people. We have to be there for them.)
When the world shut down, if only for a couple of months, we realized just how tired we were. And, if you have kids, or a job that is essential, the new requirements to continue to be productive could have been the topping on the cake to push you over the edge.
One desire when we are worn out and disillusioned with our current plight is for change. This change can take the form of quitting. I am so tired and burned out I just want to do nothing. Or, you could be the type that wants and needs progress, so you move to action. Change jobs, change industries, or even change your entire career.
This is why across all industries companies, owners, and managers are feeling and experiencing the Great Resignation. It is one of the causes of business supply chain issues and smaller businesses shutting down because they can not staff.
That isn’t our problem, right? We have to take care of us. We need to protect our mental and physical health, right?
The Impact Of Sudden Job Change on Our Health
I see both sides of it. I see the impact on the companies and the employees left behind. And I see the impact on the people who have pivoted, possibly too quickly, and have moved from the pot to the frying pan.
I was completely burned out from a long-running high stress job. I had to make a change. My transition required much thought, soul searching, planning and stages of implementation. My transition occurred over many years and seasons of life, however, it stuck.
On the business coaching side of our business we help our small business clients recruit for their teams. I am so surprised at how many resumes we have looked at that show 3 or 4 changes during the past 2 years of the pandemic.
Your first thought may be that the companies all laid everyone off due to economic issues of the pandemic. Although that may have been some of the initial shifts, through interviews we have heard many, many people say that they wanted to try something different or they were burned out and needed to get out of their current career. When asked about the concurrent changes, I heard:
- I wanted to try this new industry, but it wasn’t for me.
- I just needed a job and so I took the first one offered, but I knew I wouldn’t like it so I am continuing to look.
- I liked working from home and my company wanted us back at the office. I am trying on various work from home options.
The bottom-line is that change was desired, shifts were made quickly and without a plan, and the result has been more job change, more stress, more burnout, and more economic turmoil.
How To Approach A Job or Career Change When You Are Burned Out?
Approaching a significant change in the midst of burnout can be a challenge. When we are exhausted and stressed-out our decision-making can be impaired. And for some of us that were laid off, we do not have the luxury of just taking a year off and figuring it out over time. Even with past government assistance it isn’t enough to take care of our families.
I don’t think there is a one size fits all approach. We all have different circumstances, and this is a time to consider our own situation, needs, and desires. However, here are some suggestions to consider as you assess your stress and burnout and ponder a career change.
- Do you have a job or were you laid off or forced to quit to take care of kids at home? If you are unemployed at the moment, and you don’t have the luxury of another bread winner or significant savings, you may have to just go get a job. I agree. Sometimes we have to do what we have to do and just do it. However, you don’t have to keep the cycle going.
- If you take a job to make ends meet, keep it while you are healing and planning for your future direction. Don’t just keep jumping from job to job hoping you will like it? The constant change and discontent only serve to make us even more tired and disillusioned. Stay the course and put your plan together.
- Get help with your stress, anxiety or burnout. These are real issues and will continue to get worse without attention. We can discuss many paths to healing, but here is a link to many articles on stress and anxiety to help. The key is to assess where you are and start working on this proactively. This is self-care that can’t wait. It will only get worse.
- Simultaneously to working on our emotional and physical health, we need to work on our career direction and vision. What career matches your personality and interests? What is the job market like? How much was this career impacted by the pandemic? Is there job security? Do you need training or education for it? How do different careers match up to you?
- What does the long-term look like for a change in career and does it also work well with your mental, emotional, and physical health? We have all learned that these are tied together and that we are all vulnerable. Short-term decisions that place us back in the same spot, over and over again, are like getting pummeled by waves crashing over our heads. We hold our breath and regain our footing and another wave is waiting as our head bobs up out of the water. We get more and more tired and fear takes hold. The fear creates a sense of urgency and quick decision-making that will get us to the next breath, but not necessarily to safe harbor.
- Lay out multiple career directions over the next 2-3 seasons of your life. With kids, once they are independent, when you are older, etc. Which fits you and your life and your dreams the best long-term?
- Then develop a long-term implementation plan. How will you get that training or education you need? How will you support yourself or your family until then? How will you implement the plan but still care for yourself and your health?
- Take the first step. Creating the dream without executing is no more helpful than jumping from job to job without a vision or a plan. They both wear you down and impact your hope. The vision may be a longer-term plan, but once you are on the journey, you feel like you are making progress. You feel hope. You heal. You have clarity and make better decisions.
I had to make some other radical decisions when I was burned out to give me the time and space to heal and concurrently feel I was on a path and working towards God’s plan for me.
The joy and benefits came because it was a good plan and the right path. Although it has continued to evolve over the decades, my career has followed the vision God gave me and the plan has kept progress moving.
I loved my past jobs. It just proved unhealthy for my family and my personal health. I love my career now. The difference in this new direction is that I did heal from extensive burnout, I have thrived in the new career, and it has been sustained for 15 years now. No job hopping, constant change in varying directions, and disillusionment along the way.
Changing Jobs in the Midst of Burnout
We can change jobs in the midst of burnout. We may need to. Our health and lives may truly depend on it. However, the more thoughtful and purposeful the changes, the more sustainable and life-giving they will be.
If you need help with the plan or direction, we have counselors, coaches, and programs to help. You can check out our Career By Design and our Life By Design programs by clicking on the links. Take action today in planning our your healthy tomorrow.