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Rescue the Career You Love from Burnout

What happens when you're burnt out on a career you love and want to keep?

Four years ago, I witnessed one of my best friends crash and burn out in her teaching career, in which she invested so much passion, time, energy, and money. Watching as she struggled to salvage her job and life plan was hard. She didn't want to quit teaching; she was forced out by habitual burnout - one of the most severe forms of chronic stress. Habitual burnout often leads to chronic sadness or depression, mental exhaustion, low self-efficacy, and, worst cases, suicidal ideation. If you've reached this stage, you're beyond the typical recommendations of speaking up, drawing boundaries, and arbitrary forms of self-care.

Burnout is a serious condition, but doesn’t have to be devastating or permanent. Not only can a person experience burnout in a job they love and want to keep, but for some organizations, it's the last blaring signal for much-needed changes in leadership personnel, wellness and culture initiatives, and technology investment.

Here is a Plan of Action for people willing to push a little harder to recover from burnout:

1. Rewrite Your Job Description: Analyze and write down your role's significant duties and tasks (including the ones they didn't put in the description). Think like an essentialist and focus only on doing the right things, in the right way, at the right time. You know your job better than anyone, so label each task as either 1) critical, 2) important but not urgent, 3) optional, or 4) obsolete. Include a short rationale summary for how you characterized the groups of tasks.

2. Introduce AI: Artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT have revolutionized how work gets done. If you want to survive, you have to learn how to use it, and there are hundreds of videos on the Internet to show you how. Create relevant prompts to organize, streamline, and automate the 'critical' and 'important but not urgent' tasks.

3. Discontinue Tasks: Investigate the impact of discontinuing optional and obsolete tasks, and don't be afraid to let the dinosaurs die. You'll likely need to reach out to the teams whose deliverables flow to and inputs flow from your team before you make final recommendations on cuts. While relieving your burnout, you don't want to cause it for someone else.

4. Initiate the Critical Conversation: Let's face it: if you're burned out, chances are that your leaders are also. This time, though, you're going to present them with a well-documented action plan summarizing your newly crafted job description, a link to the tutorial you used to learn about AI tools, a list of organized and streamlined processes, and a list of people you consulted to ensure that you can maintain continuity for obsoleted tasks.

There are degrees of both personal and corporate accountability in managing burnout risks. This 4-part approach will shift a tremendous weight off your leaders and empower you to create change. Don't fold if you experience a little resistance, but be insistent about the required changes. This is, after all, a career you love and want to keep.

GO BEYOND WELL helps companies protect their people, purpose, and profits and take their wellness, inclusion, and leadership initiatives from awareness to action. Subscribe to our site and comment below on how you will use this strategy to rescue your career from burnout.

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