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7 Signs of Job Burn-Out and How to Rekindle Your Passion
December 2009

Just like any other relationship, your relationship with your job is going to have its ups and downs. In some cases it can be clear that the best solution is for the two of you to separate – meaning you will need to find a new job. In other cases, making a few changes to how you work can rekindle your passion for what you do, allowing you to keep your job and your sanity.

You may not have any physical signs of burnout. The list below highlights seven red flags that signal you may be overwhelmed and could benefit from making some changes.

  1. It’s 10 a.m. on Monday and you can’t wait for Friday
  2. Your meeting status: unprepared and uninterested
  3. You’re more inspired to make an excuse than make a deadline
  4. You day dream about getting sick so you have an excuse to stay home
  5. You avoid people because you’re afraid of getting more work
  6. People avoid you because they don’t want to hear about your workload
  7. You use the 50/50 rule: you spend 50% of your time trying to figure out how to get out of 50% of your work

If these behaviors have become the norm for you instead of the exception, you may have started to think of yourself as a slacker. I've actually met very few people who are slackers, what I encounter are people who are bored, haven’t found a way to what they are passionate about and as a result feel stuck in a job they hate. Going into “slacker” mode is also a response to the frustration of being overworked, underemployed, underpaid and poorly managed. Good news: If you identify with any of the seven signs, there’s something you can do. Here’s a short list of practical things you can do shift out of neutral and move into drive mode.

Get Real: Acknowledge how you are feeling about your work-life. Journal it, talk about it with someone you don’t have to sensor yourself with, but stop holding it in. The more you try to ignore how you really feel, the more anxiety and frustration you will feel about your situation. The sooner you identify how you feel, the sooner you can address it.

Get Inspired: Find a book, audio CD, or MP3 – something that tells someone else’s success story and read it or listen to it. The focus here is to connect with their ups and downs on their journey and the challenges they had to overcome to reach their goals. Let their success motivate you to press towards your vision despite how you feel right now.

Take Control: Are there too many meetings and tasks on your to-do list? Become a guardian of your time and energy by mastering your schedule. Limit the number of meetings you have a day: if your limit is 4 meetings, then meeting number 5 that comes to your invite box gets declined or proposed for another day and time. Set up a system for managing emails and prioritizing request. Make sure you get outside or get to connect with other people so you are not functioning in isolation everyday.

Play a Different Role: Are you the team member that organizes everything? Or are you the ad-hoc tech support person for your team? Maybe you’re the one everyone goes to when there’s a last minute crisis. Taking on a specific role within your team may have boxed you in and now you can’t get out. Whatever hat you normally wear – take it off. Changing how you engage can change how you feel about your work and your colleagues.

Make a Plan: It can be really hard to stay motivated if you can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. Most people stay on the road to nowhere because they haven’t made a map to go anywhere else. Start putting together a plan for how you are going to escape or move into another role. It could mean going back to school, updating your resume for a lateral move within your company, expanding your professional network – the point here is to move from being dominated by feelings of frustration to a place of action.


alumni@drexel.edu