You Can Love Your Job And Still Get Burned Out

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Jul. 19 2018, Published 4:05 a.m. ET

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Do you feel passionate about your job? The vast majority of professionals we surveyed recently said they were.

Deloitte conducted a marketplace survey of 1,000 full-time U.S. professionals in a range of industries to better understand the drivers and impact of employee burnout. We were surprised to see the role passion plays in the prolonged stress that leads to burnout.

With 87% saying they’re passionate about their current job, you might think the number of burned out employees would be relatively low. You’d be wrong.

Three in four respondents told us they have experienced burnout in their current job, with more than half telling us they felt burned out more than once. Of course, passion does help to mitigate burnout somewhat—rates were higher among those who reported not feeling passionate about their job.

But in some ways, passion may also contribute to burnout. When we asked survey respondents why they don’t use all of their vacation days, the top reason cited was, “I worry that issues would arise if I was away from my work”.

Passion is a wonderful thing. It drives purpose, engagement, and productivity. But when you become so passionate about one aspect of your life that you forget about the others (like a vacation for example) then it can be a sign of trouble.

I know this from personal experience; how easy it can be to miss the warning signs of burnout when you are passionate about what you do. But here are some lessons I learned:

Check-in before you check-out: Mindfulness can be a powerful thing. Take the time to check-in with yourself and reflect on how you are feeling in body, mind, and purpose. Awareness is half the battle when it comes to preventing burnout.

Make recovery a priority: Don’t let your vacation days go to waste. And don’t forget to make recovery a daily part of your life. Small breaks throughout the day can have an incredible impact overall.

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Let go: This may be one of the hardest things to do when you are passionate about your work, but it’s important to trust your team members. Whether it’s delegating projects, requesting coverage for your vacation, or simply asking for help, your colleagues can have your back because you’ll have theirs as well.

Get your move on: Whether it’s a leisurely walk, a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) session, or your favorite Zumba class – exercise releases the ‘feel good’ chemicals in our brain called endorphins, improves mood, and clears the mind.

Have an attitude of gratitude: A “thank you” seems simple, but don’t overlook its powerful and lasting effect on your life. Research shows that the practice of gratitude can lower blood pressure, improve sleep and immune function, and help us feel calmer.

Talk it out: In our survey, we asked respondents how they deal with their burnout and over half (51%) say they talk to friends or family. Connecting with your social support network is a great way to not only relieve stress but also learn new coping mechanisms. When I experienced burnout, connecting with a friend and mentor helped me step back and reassess what was important to me in my life.

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If you are a leader in your organization, then it’s not only yourself you should monitor but also your teams. When asked about the reasons why they felt burned out at their current job, survey respondents reported that lack of passion wasn’t the problem. Instead, lack of support from leadership was cited as the most common reason.

It’s not surprising that employees want to see and feel that their leaders support and recognize the work that they do. After all, wouldn’t any employee want a boss that is as passionate about them as they are about their work?

What better time to start developing positive habits in stress management? Plan your vacation days, be mindful of your well-being, and show your appreciation and support for your colleagues and teams. Kindle your passion, but don’t let it burn you.

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