Executive Burn Out: What Next?
You have jumped through the hoops and cleared the hurdles. You have risen up the ranks, earn a good salary and have an impressive title. But you are disillusioned. When you clambered up the ladder you thought there would be more. You thought you will feel fulfilled.
Right now, you feel like the dog that has caught the car. Now what?
It is so anti-climactic. Bouts of depression now enter the picture and your joy is evaporating.
You are one of an increasing number of executives who have worked hard to place their careers on track only to find a sense of emptiness. You need more but not more of the same. You feel inclined to reject the path that you have trod and want to explore new, dynamic, engaging ventures.
Like many, you have started to pay attention to or even nurture a passion that you had previously ignored or dabbled at in spare moments. Now these passions loom larger and add to your feeling of frustration.
One huge challenge is that you have grown accustomed to the creature comforts that your income provides. You have made your mark and there is a sense of security linked to your proven ability. If you could be totally true to yourself for a moment, you would even agree that you have become complacent about your career goals and development.
You have understandably opted out of the rat race and chosen to stroll leisurely in the park. The challenge is that the shift in gears brings with it a lack of momentum. Ramping up again is more difficult. You can easily fall into a rut where you tune out and stop being the best that you can be. Operating at Peak State becomes more challenging.
In this condition, taking action; changing jobs or careers is just so difficult. Pursuing your passion is beaten back by an assault of procrastination and rationalization. This prompts retreat into shutting it all down and seeking refuge in the safety of your current job. “Be professional. Even if you do not feel inspired, be professional and get the job done.”
Your professionalism allows you to continue to do well on the job and to retain it. You might even be up for another promotion. But that does not assuage the nagging boredom and frustration. When you share with your colleagues you get a reflection of your state.
What next? Is there a solution?
What follows depends on your mind-set. If you have been in this position for an extended period, it is likely that you are not a risk taker. You prefer to move cautiously ahead. You probably have seen colleagues jump ship and are charting different – maybe even more satisfying – waters. You made tentative attempts at looking out but rationalized – maybe correctly – that you were better off staying put. Why enter another rat race episode to eventually return to this very place?
I suggest that you explore a dual strategy. Focus on taking more than professionalism to the job. Devise strategies to make your job more interesting. Revisit happier and more engaging times. Work on developing closer links with colleagues and bring fun events into the work environment. Adopt sprint-relax-sprint work habits that sprinkle your days with things that you enjoy.
The second part of the strategy is to pursue your primary passion with vigour. Put a lot of energy into it while retaining your job! Do not focus on income up front – use your salary as working capital. Hone your skills in your chosen niche and gradually seek income streams from it. Critically, you must be held accountable in this pursuit. Invest money and your reputation ….this is not now just a hobby. You might discover new career options.
This engagement will lift your spirit and present new challenges that energize you.
BTW volunteering is an excellent renewal strategy!
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Trevor E S Smith is a Behaviour Modification/Leadership Coach with the Success with People Academy™.