Job burnout happens when the stress or prolonged frustration of a job or career contributes to emotional and physical exhaustion. The ability to cope with general life stressors outside of work is strained. This combination results in a lack of motivation, fatigue, irritability, and sometimes depression. Job burnout presents a significant challenge for everyone supporting the burned out individual.

The challenge of burnout can be especially taxing for creative, goal-oriented people. When these people blame themselves for their situation, the feeling of exhaustion only gets worse and they feel helpless. Their efforts seem to get them nowhere. The cycle of working harder, seeing little or no results, and getting increasingly stressed out is extremely disparaging.

As a career coach specializing in helping people through this exhausting cycle, I’ve found tools that help combat burnout. If you suffer from burnout, applying these tools will help you increase your energy and incrementally take your life back from your draining job.

1. Create an emergency escape route

An emergency escape route takes some of the paralyzing stress off you. You facilitate the planning for your next step. Some first steps in creating your escape route are: find ways to create a money reserve and create a current resume.

2. Design support environments

Environments are the circumstances, objects, or conditions that surround you. An environment can be your network (email, web, electronic community) or your vocabulary.

You can increase your creativity and inspiration by setting up supportive environments that constantly trigger inspiration. If your morning drive to the office finds you discouraged by listening to negative morning news, consider creating a new environment by listening to your favorite music or to inspirational talks.

3. Eliminate drains

A drain is anything that wastes your time, drains your energy, and has some negativity around it. It could be circumstances, habits, things, or people.

Drains have an opportunity cost. When you focus on a drain, you don’t have time to create, respond to opportunities (or even notice them), or do what you really want. You miss out on opportunities that might be more fun, lucrative, creative, or significant.

4. Uncover your job values

Your values are the behavior and activities to which you are naturally drawn. When engaged in these activities, you feel most like yourself: connected, excited, glowing. Your life has a feeling of effortlessness. Most of us lead lives that do not grant us the chance to feel this way. If you take the time to identify your values, you will be more aware of why there are conflicts between you and your job and be more able to identify the needs you have sacrificed.

5. Define success for yourself

Until you take the time to define success for yourself, it will be defined by others (your boss, your parents, your partner), your culture, the past, or advertising. One way to define success for yourself is to complete the sentence, “I know I am being successful by…”

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