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How You Can Stay Busy, But Still Avoid Burnout


Stress seems to be everywhere these days. Just look at the recent US Presidential inauguration. There are people stressed out about Donald Trump winning. There are people stressed out because they feel like President Trump isn’t being given a fair chance. There are even people who are stressed out because so many people are stressed out.

I can vouch that moments of stress can feel terrible. Stress, however, is not the same as burning out.

So why do some people have the ability to stay busy and thrive in stress without burning out, while others have to stop what they’re doing to stay healthy? The secret, it seems, is in how each person copes with stress.

There’s a stress reduction method that I like to use when I feel the exhaustion, mental fatigue, and other symptoms that indicate burnout is about to arrive. It’s been adapted from TCI’s “I ESCAPE” model.

I – Isolate from the situation. I take myself out of the situation that is causing me to not be able to implement a coping skill. By removing myself from the stressful triggers, it becomes easier to implement a coping skill that is meaningful (such as working in my art journal) instead of destructive (such as taking advantage of the bottle of scotch that’s next to my computer).

E – Examine feelings. Thoughts lead to feelings. This means thoughts which can trigger stress can often lead to negative feelings, such as anger. I always need to look at how I’m feeling so that I can implement a correct coping strategy. It also helps to take a few deep breaths at this point so that the stress or negative feelings are unable to spiral out of control.

S – Summarize the incident. There is a specific reason why I begin to feel stressed out to the point of being overwhelmed. In this step, I look back at what just happened to determine what happened so I know why the feelings of burnout are trying to show up.

C – Connect it. Feelings lead to behaviors. Behaviors lead to actions. By connecting the dots from start to finish, I get to know myself better because I can learn how I tend to react to stressful stimuli. With this knowledge, I can then begin being proactive against future incidents that could lead to burnout.

A – Alternative actions. Instead of feeling stressed out, I look for alternative feelings that may also be present. If I can find positive feelings and then focus on those, it becomes much easier to stay productive.

P – Practice every day. Learning how to identify these positive feelings is only the first step in the process toward defeating burnout for good. I practice identifying these feelings every day during my time in meditation. That way, if something difficult occurs during my day, my mind can react on instinct and pull out the information that I need to know.

E – Enter back into your routine. Once I’ve been able to identify thoughts, feelings, triggers, and everything else that occurs before, during, and after a stressful incident, it becomes possible to reevaluate my personal perspective. I can see where I reacted appropriately and where, perhaps, my reactions were inappropriate. Then I can get back into my routine, confident in my knowledge of myself.

Coping with the feelings of stress is how we avoid burning out. If you can implement an effective coping strategy for the times when you encounter stress, you’ll be able to stay busy without worrying about burnout.

 How do you take care of yourself to avoid burnout? 

Goals Are Nice, But Think Twice Before Setting a New One

Ever feel like your career is moving at a faster pace than you ever imagined? I know I’ve felt that way numerous times, especially in the last few years.

We’re inundated with information like never before. This makes goal-setting an essential skill that we must all have if we’re going to find the success we want.

Or is it?

Setting a meaningful goal to work toward can be important, but it can also lead us into two specific traps that can do more harm than good. 

  1. It can cause us to be less adaptable to changing circumstances because we are so fixated on the meaningful goal we have set for ourselves.
  2. It can cause us to attempt too many tasks at once because we feel guilt, shame, or remorse for not being able to meet a meaningful goal within a specific period of time.

And I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of working hard at hardly being productive. It’s time to make a change. That’s why I say that goals are nice, but let’s think twice before setting a new one this year.

Why Flexibility Is More Important Than a Meaningful Goal

Thinking about the future of your career is important. Don’t get me wrong here. Planning out a path of success should never be overlooked. It’s how we chart our course and then navigate toward our destination that I’m proposing we change.

When many professionals set goals for themselves, they are long-term in nature. 

  • “In the next 12 months, I want to accomplish…”
  • “Five years from now, my goal is to be…”
  • “I’m trying to save $100 per month so I can retire in 20 years.”

These long-term goals are nice, but they are also very rigid and unforgiving. You must follow a prescribed course of action in order to achieve the goal. If a roadblock is found or there are obstacles that come up, you have no method of finding a detour around the issue because you’re locked into this one path.

So instead of all these long-term resolutions, consider short-term goals instead. Let’s transform those three statements above so you can see what I mean. 

  • “This week I will work toward accomplishing…”
  • “Five years from now, I will be satisfied with my career if any of these events occur.”
  • “I’m trying to save $100 this month for retirement.”

By Staying in the Present Moment, You Can Accomplish More

Ever feel exhausted before you even make it to work? Wonder what happened to your life as you sit in your office? Dream of getting out of a cubicle?

When you have several long-term goals that you’re attempting to achieve, then you spread yourself too thin. There’s no way to focus on what needs to happen today because you’re so focused on what tomorrow will bring.

So let’s forget about tomorrow. Stay in the present moment instead and I guarantee that the stress or even regret you feel about your long-term goals will begin to reduce.

There will always be competitive priorities that we must face. By focusing on what needs to be done right now, we can let tomorrow worry about itself.

How do you set professional goals for yourself? Is there a method of goal-setting that you have found to be particularly effective?

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