Defeating the 3 Kinds of Life Sapping Burnout
by Kevin Hogan
The Reward-Energy Dilemma.
The Reward Energy Dilemma leaves the person rewarded in some way at the end of the day, but drained of all energy...and a mid-afternoon nap isn't going to cut it in energizing the person, because this is about desires and motivations and fulfillment.
The psychologist might want to be writing books or riding horses for her livelihood when, instead, she does something she is "good at" and ends up...out of energy at the end of the day.
Here's a ....not "on the job"...but "back in school" example... that you may remember, as well...
I remember (vaguely) being in English Lit. or related classes, from 8th grade through college. Years of "English" and "Literature" were required to get in and out of college. So you took English/Lit. whether you liked it or not. Your reward? Getting into and out of college, of course.
I didn't like English Lit.
Didn't care about Shakespeare or Voltaire or any of the dead guys. (Gulliver's Travels, Dante's Inferno... and a couple others excepted...)
I remember (clearly) spending what were big bucks in those days on Cliff's Notes which were summaries of the various books that had an anesthetic-like effect on my brain.
Without Cliff's Notes, I never would have made it into and out of college.
I recently unpacked some old Cliff's Notes...ugh...and the faded yellow and black booklets brought back memories for this article...
Sitting in class, the various teachers of this...stuff...had a similar pattern. They would ask questions about the story line (which I could fudge when answering because of Cliff's Notes) and questions about "style" (which I simply said, "I don't have a clue how to describe....")
I worked as hard as I could to read the books, but my brain would often force me to read the same paragraph 10 times or more because the information simply wouldn't register or enter my brain.
8 consecutive years of English Literature and I don't recall one professor or teacher...their names, faces, nothing.
I had burned out....and early!
I didn't like what I was doing/trying to learn. I saw no reason or logical value in the classes. It made little sense to me why reading 400-year-old books would be relevant to just about any career I might find myself in when I "grew up".
Read that again:
That is the Reward-Energy Dilemma. If you hear yourself or someone you care about using those phrases, they are in a spin cycle that does NOT go up or recover on it's own.
- I didn't like what I was doing....
- I saw no reason...
- ...no logical value...
- ...made little sense....
Those are the code phrases and code words. Listen for them in yourself and in everyone around you.
My personal pain mirrored many others...It seemed like an exercise in futility to "label" various parts of sentences and paragraphs we would write. Subjects, predicates...and then gerunds, direct objects and participles that dangled.
I wondered as early as junior high, how any of these things ever could come into play in any part of life. Not only didn't I like any of it....there was no meaning or context in it for me.
I didn't like weeding the yard, but I could see a purpose to it.
I didn't like shoveling the driveway, but I could see a purpose to it.
I sat there for hours... for a decade... doing work I absolutely abhorred and for what was almost certainly a total waste of life time...
Burned out at 12-years old...
Many people experience this in their work and become burned out.
There is a reward.
Or maybe the person likes the people in the office. But they aren't being fulfilled and feeling good about their life.
The solution is for the person to eventually move into work that they like without creating a bridge that takes them out too quickly to destabilize their life...or too slowly to continue the burnout as it burns their life out.
The 3rd type of burnout; is this you?...:
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