Returning To Work After Burnout: Reinventing Your Career
There comes a time on our journeys with chronic workplace burnout when it's time to change paths in our careers and search for the next steps. If you find yourself here, we want to take some time to express our gratitude to you.
For taking action and working towards wholeness for yourself and those around you. Thank you.
If you're not quite there yet, we have resources for all stages of burnout throughout your journey.
You may feel that you’re at an intersection on your life’s path. Go right, and there is endless opportunity and wellness, skew left, and you might find yourself in a situation where the grass is not greener, go forward in your old career as it were and you're at a dead end. Our goal is to equip you with the necessary tools and information needed to make the best decision for you. This journey takes deep thought, honest self-reflection, and clear planning. Here are our tips for returning to work after burnout and reinventing your career as you know it.
1 | Figure Out What Your Values Are
The power of personal values are unparalleled, which is why we talk about them a lot at Wholeness At Work. If we think of your professional career as a winding maze with twists and turns, your personal values become the compass that helps you navigate along the way. They tell you when you are following your true north or veering off of the path. They also help you draw a line in the sand when you are not the right fit for a project, a partner, or a scenario. To understand your values, you need to do the work by diving into what's meaningful to you and what gives you a sense of purpose.
Let's complete a quick exercise together. In a minute or less, write out the things that are important to you. This list can include your family, friends, social justice issues, passions, joys, etc.—whatever it is that breeds your passion and shapes your life. Don't overthink it. Write for a full minute without stopping to erase or edit yourself. We will start our timer now.
Now that you’ve written your list, reflect on it. Try to separate the things that you actually value from the things that you wrote because the world you live in expects you to value them. There is a big difference between what we inherently want to enact as individuals and what society sets as an unwritten rule for our values. Take a few minutes to cross anything off that you added to meet some invisible expectations you had for yourself (or your "ought self").
And now, boil it all down. Try to extract 3-5 values from this list. Values that fuel you and align with you as an individual so much that they show up in all aspects of your life as a whole person. Circle those values and begin to envision your future in work and life, living in a way that supports those values.
2. Establish Your Core Purpose
Do these words align with the career and role you're currently in? If not, what might serve as a starting point on your next path? A full career change? Business ownership? Switching industries? Your core values should help you zero in on your purpose.
Just as we slimmed down our values into a few words or statements, so too can we boil down our core purpose into one sentence. Your purpose should answer this big question:
Given your unique talents and values, what is the difference you want to make in this world?
Writing this sentence may feel like a very daunting task, and that's because it is. But when we dissolve that list of values down to one sentence that speaks to everything you and your future self will accomplish, it can help you gain and remain clear as you set foot on your path.
3. Set Boundaries
Depending on what stage in your burnout recovery you’re in, you may feel ready to begin laying the foundation for your future self. So, it is time to put pen to paper and begin to build out your plan. Start by writing your core purpose at the top, and your idea of what the future will look like, then start to uncover what boundaries you need to put in place to get you there.
A boundary is a structural limit created to protect you and your beliefs. Healthy boundaries are a crucial component of self-care that helps us focus on the things most important to us. They help us to develop autonomy, support our mental health, avoid burnout, and more. And, while one person's boundaries might include a handful of specific limits, yours may be completely different.
Sometimes the words “boundary” and “limit” can connote negative association, however, boundaries actually allow you to open yourself up to more things that serve you. Setting boundaries on aspects of your life that don’t serve you open up your time and energy to more opportunity to grow into your true self and lifestyle.
How To Set A Healthy Boundary
- Reflect on situations that often spiral out of control in your work and personal life. Define the exact problem and what led up to that moment.
- Communicate the specific boundary to set to avoid the situation.
- Set a consequence if the boundary is crossed. It shouldn't be punitive, rather, it should allow you to remove yourself from the "danger zone" of revisiting that scenario.
4. Build A Plan
With the previous steps in mind, start to plan out ways that you can support your vision. What does your career look like? What do you need to do to get there? And how can you continue to support yourself throughout this journey? Finding a new job after burnout and starting fresh is scary for anyone, but having a plan in place will help you navigate the twists and turns with more confidence.
5. Build Your Team
One of the most important steps you can take as a leader on the road to burnout recovery is building a team of capable, committed people around you to support your vision and goals, further fueling and propelling your passion and intent.
And while we know many of us (We see you, Enneagram Threes) love autonomy and control, a strong team is essential to you being able to honor your wellbeing, personal commitments, and establishing long-term success.
Who is on your ideal team? What supporting roles would maximize the time you have to focus on your work? What roles and responsibilities would you have that are necessary to your organization but do not align with your skills or interests? If your skills and interests lie in finance, maybe tasks like marketing, which are certainly essential for your business but don’t align with you personally, could be given to someone with more aptitude and enthusiasm in that area. What skills is your team still missing?
An effective, passionate, and supported team can not only avoid employee burnout, but can thrive in their industry. Here at Wholeness At Work, we’ve seen this time and time again, which is why we spend a great deal of time focusing on building resilient teams. For a more in-depth look, check out our complete self-guided program.
Check-In With Your Values
Even after you have a path and a team and are well on your way to a full recovery from burnout, there is still work to be done. Maintenance is vital for long-term success. Check-in with your values every quarter (or display them in your office for a consistent reminder) and continue to ask yourself where you can improve or build boundaries around areas in your work. We are whole, growing people, and as years move on, we often need to adjust our work. So, continue to put in work that builds a life that supports you as a whole person.We are here to help you on your journey. Whether you need the individual support from Erin Rocchio, MPOD, a Wholeness At Work program for your entire team, or something in between, we have something to help you on your journey to beat burnout for good. The Enneagram X Burnout Card Deck is a beautiful place to begin.
- Tags: burnout