Burnout – Pushing Through, or Going Around?

Lately the extremely fast pace of work has been pushing me hard. Over the past 3 years our business has tripled, from 30 million to a run rate of over 105 million. We’ve gone from an IT department of 2, to an IT department of 7, and growing. That growth has come at the expense of a great many things, work life balance, consistency in direction, and most importantly the ability to feel as if I’m planning ahead.

As an IT professional one of the things that gives me great satisfaction is the planning and execution of a project, that finishes on time and with the planned result. Lately I’ve felt very much that although I plan out projects, the end result is either not what is desired (partially my fault for over-estimating the impacts), or the project keeps getting put on the back burner for other projects that have different strategic goals.

I keep pushing, knowing that eventually things will slow down and we can go back and remove the “duct tape” from everything that we’ve patched together to make it work to support the huge growth, but holding that duct tape together is tiring, and the growth doesn’t seem to be slowing.

So – how do I deal with the threat of burnout?
I push through. I find the small victories, the little joys that make it worth while.

As a business leader, sometimes its the simple pleasure of solving a problem for a co-worker, helping someone that reports to me solve a problem, or helping them understand that “this to shall pass” is a very true saying. Acknowledging how I have to grow, and the changes in the definition of success for my new role is how I need to stave off burnout, how I need to measure myself against the yardstick of success.

While work will take as much time as I offer it, I’ve also learned that I need to take some time for me. Separate from the identity I have at work, and separate from the “dad” identity I have at home. Yes, this is somewhat heretical, but taking a hour or so a day 3 – 4 times a week is a minimal amount of time. Most of those hours are spent at the YMCA, where I have rediscovered my love of swimming, with a side of running, and an occasional weight workout.

Staving off burnout is about all of these things, and I need to remember this whenever burnout threatens. So should you. Remember – when things are hard at work, and you have a a million shifting priorities, look at what you’ve accomplished, either through your work, or your team’s work and celebrate the wins. Then take a moment and celebrate you, with something that you love that doesn’t involve work.

— Mike


1 Comment

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One response to “Burnout – Pushing Through, or Going Around?

  1. I hear you, but the problem I see sometimes is that it seems never ending, like you’ll always be half buried by it all and always reacting – mostly to putting out fires – than acting. Having more business is great, but not having the capacity, time, or ability to plan definitely makes it difficult.

    I don’t think you’re being heretical about taking some ‘me’ time, I think for a lot of us, it really saves our sanity. I wasn’t doing it for a while because I felt guilty not spending every waking free moment with my family. I honestly think it was making me sick, mostly from neglecting what I needed.

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