Nearly every professional personwhether brain surgeon, dentist, CPA, human resources manager, or vice president of sales and marketingreaches a point I call "repetition burnout." That's burnout from doing the same thing again and again. The dentist who's drilled 187,000 teeth walks into the office on Monday morning and says, "I'd rather jump off a tall building than drill one more tooth."
Have you ever felt that way? I know I have.
Repetition burnout is very commonespecially among high-achieversbut it can be reduced with some focused effort. These are some of the tactics I use to keep my own career fresh and alive. Keep this list nearby, and use it to renew your workday whenever repetition burnout sets in:
- Take a course that would be fun and helpful to the business of your career.
- Teach a course in your area of expertise.
- Take a 1/2-day class to update your computer skills. (This is a networking opportunity.)
- Read a computer how-to book or magazine.
- Subscribe to an Internet magazine like "Laptop," or "PC Computing."
- Write a series of 750- to 1000-word articles to publish in company
publications, professional journals, local newspapers, or business magazines.
- If you're a fluent writer, consider building a daily or weekly blog.
Sites like Typepad or Blogspot offer no-cost or low-cost options. Take a look at www.popurls.com to review some highly popular blogs.
- Compile your articles into a book, e-book, or series of books.
- Ask to be included in customer meetings, briefings, planning sessions, and sales calls.
- Vary your work schedulearrive early, or stay late.
Work a weekend day in exchange for a weekday off.
- Take an early or late lunch to miss the crowds.
- Take a walk, a sauna, a massage, or a nap instead of lunch.
- Take a series of career-focused 3-day weekends.
- Take a sabbatical to pursue new areas of interest. Such periods of
rest and renewal can last from a week up to a year.
- Take a public speaking class.
- Join toastmasters (a public speaking group).
- Give short talks or speeches to fellow employees, or local business groups.
- Take on more challenge. Replace less interesting duties with more interesting tasks.
- Ask your supervisor to add or take away responsibilities.
- Serve as a mentor for young up-and-comers in your field.
- Ask someone you admirenot necessarily in your companyto be a mentor.
- Consider using two mentors with different expertiseor possibly even three.
- Subscribe to a new and different publication.
- Join a new professional organization. Then serve on a committee, or hold an office.
- Attend professional meetings, conferences, trade shows.
- Take advantage of training or management development courses your company offers.
- Make a list of work
"likes" and "dislikes." Study it to find ways to
refocus your daily efforts toward "likes," and away from "dislikes."
- Make a 5-column list with these headings:
- Things I want to continue doing
- Things I want to do more of
- Things I want to do less of
- Things I want to start doing
- Things I want to stop doing
- Identify the values that govern your life. When your actions are aligned with your values, you will sense an inner peace.
- If you're in a large company, ask to change departments or divisions.
- Ask to serve on a special project team.
- Say "No" to unnecessary business obligationse.g., non-essential late night meetings.
- Join a health cluband use it.
- Review past performance appraisals with boss or colleagues to identify current development areas.
- Take a basic
career testing and assessment instrument to establish a basis for your career direction. The Birkman is the best assessment on the market.
- Ask your company to administer a 360-degree review for you, taking input from your boss, peers, subordinateseven vendors or customers.
- Hire a career coach and meet with them weekly until you achieve a breakthrough.
(You'll know it when you achieve it.)
- Volunteer for a not-for-profit you strongly believe in: feed the homeless, cure a disease, or conserve the great outdoors.
- Whenever possible, delegate unpleasant tasks to those more happy to do them.
- Invite a successful, interesting person to lunch. Plan at least two lunches monthly.
- Invest an hour in the library browsing books and publications in your field, or in closely related fields. (Old fashioned books and magazines are kinda fun.)
- Surf Google or other search engines to find career-related Websites.
- Take a class about surfing the Web.
- Spend an hour with a job hunter who has called you for help.
- Telephone three important business acquaintances each week, just to say hello.
- Do something new and different with your wardrobe. Dress up or dress down.
- Schedule bi-weekly meetings with your boss to assess your career path and progress.
- Create a professional profile on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) so classmates, peers, former colleagues, recruiters, and potential clients or employers can find you. This is me on LinkedIn.
- Schedule an energetic cleaning-out sessionbring a 30-gallon trash barrelin which you toss outdated files, clean up debris, organize paperworkand wax, oil, and polish your work area.
How to proceed: Set aside time every day to re-energize your career, but don't attempt too many of these tactics at once. That can result in frustration and further burnout. Pick two or three methods that would be easy to implement, then add others as time permits.
If you're suffering from serious burnout and thinking of quitting your job, be sure to look at this article before you make any hasty decisions.
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