We’ve heard so much about “burnout” over the past few years, you may feel burned out about the very topic.
But burnout – which the World Health Organization describes as a syndrome that results from chronic workplace stress – is not something to take lightly.
Preventing or managing burnout is essential to your well-being and success.
Just ask Dr. Jacinta Jiménez, psychologist and author of The Burnout Fix.
She spoke with us recently about how to prevent burnout, some of the surprising signs of burnout, and the importance of creating your own definition of success.
You can hear much more from Jiménez, Brené Brown, Selena Gomez, and others at the 2022 Texas Conference for Women.
Q: Burn-out is so prevalent today that there almost seems to be a sense of acceptance: This is just how life is now. But there are real risks from chronic burnout. Would you speak to that?
There are so many consequences to prolonged stress and burnout. It affects how we show up at our jobs. It affects our capacity to be empathetic and our capacity for leadership and caregiving. It affects our physical health and our well-being.
The flip side is that if you invest in pro-resilience skills and behaviors, you can do better at work. You can thrive and flourish. I believe deeply that this is a necessary component to sustain success over the long term.
Q: What are some of the most common signs of burnout we should pay attention to?
I think it’s important for people to know exactly what burnout is because the media has oversimplified it. Many people think it’s just exhaustion. That’s one component of it. Exhaustion is obvious. You feel like you can’t recover because you’re so emotionally drained. Another less obvious sign is cynicism, especially among top performers. They don’t think they’re contributing to anything important anymore.
Q: One strategy you recommend for preventing burnout is “designing an effective pace for performance.” What do you mean by that?
We need to think about how to sustain success in the new world of work. We have to think of it as a marathon. It’s about staying in the stretch zone and not going into the stress zone. It’s also about recognizing when you do go into the stress zone and if it gets high, countering that with rest and recovery. It’s what athletes do.
Q: You also recommend “undoing untidy thinking.” Would you explain that?
If we’re not aware, our thinking line can take us down unnecessary pathways where there are unnecessary stressors and thought patterns. So if you notice you are stressed, it’s important to approach that with curiosity instead of concern, instead of a negative bias. Try to wonder why you are stressed. This helps shift things quickly.
Q: Finally, your work is encouraging us to redefine how we think about what leads to success. We used to think it was hard work. What are we learning now that leads to sustained success?
There is no one correct definition of success. The important thing is to choose the definition of success that is true to your values and honors your humanity and capability.