Why You're Feeling Burnt Out in the Middle of Your Career | Reasons for Burnout
Are you feeling like a burnt-out mess in the middle of your career? Well, you're not alone. Many people between the ages of 30 and 45 experience burnout at some point in their careers. But what are the causes of burnout and why do we usually experience it at this age?
Is Burnout A Medical Condition?
Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress. It's often characterized by feelings of fatigue, frustration, and cynicism towards your work. Burnout symptoms can range from irritability, lack of motivation, and difficulty concentrating to physical symptoms like headaches, insomnia, and even digestive problems.
It’s worthwhile noting that burnout was even named as a medical condition in 2019. It's clear that in the last decade, especially since the pandemic, burnout is incredibly commonplace.
Too Many Responsibilities
But why do so many people experience burnout during this stage of their careers and their lives? There are a few reasons. For one, people in this age range are often at a point where they have accumulated significant responsibilities both at work and at home. They may have children, a mortgage, or other financial pressures, and all of these factors can contribute to a sense of overwhelm.
It’s common at this stage of life to feel like you’ve got to prioritise everything, and everyone is relying on you:
- How do you do what’s best for your kids?
- How do you support your friends and wider family?
- How can you focus on and progress your career?
- What are the next steps you need to take to help your family?
- Do you feel like you’re behind your peers in life?
- Do your colleagues approve of you and your work?
- What do you friends think of you and your decisions in life?
Those are just some of the questions that might pop into your head every day. And, rightfully so, it can really weigh on you.
Lack Of Career Progression
Additionally, many people in this age range have been working full time for a while, and may have hit a point where they feel like they're not making progress or advancing. This lack of growth or sense of stagnation can lead to feelings of frustration and hopelessness. You get the sense that everything is just falling apart and your job is to be there every day to pick up the pieces.
These feelings of frustration and hopelessness can also spill over into other areas of life, such as relationships, hobbies, and personal goals. It can become difficult to find motivation or excitement for things that used to bring joy, and even the simplest tasks can feel overwhelming. Career burnout can very easily lead to burnout across your personal list too.
This can create a vicious cycle of feeling unfulfilled and discouraged, which can further exacerbate your experiences of burnout by creating the sense the sense of stagnation and a lack of purpose. It's important for individuals in this age range to recognize these feelings and take steps to address them, such as seeking new opportunities for growth and development, seeking support from friends and family, or seeking professional guidance.
The Comparison Trap
The common trap that we find ourselves falling into is comparison with our peers. We’ll look at our friends around us, or maybe those we went to university with, and compare where our life is at with theirs. You might find yourself asking yourself whether you’ve made the right choices, or doubting your decisions:
- Should I have taken that gap year in between jobs?
- Should I have waited longer to have kids? Or have kids earlier?
- Did I make the right decision deciding to move back to my hometown instead of chase my career overseas?
However, comparing ourselves to those around us can be a tricky game to play. Before you know it, you’re placing your sense of self-worth relative to those around you, rather than looking at where you are now and where you were before.
You Don’t Have the Support You Need
When was the last time you looked at your circle and thought about your support system?
You may be feeling burnt out because you're not getting the support you need. This could mean feeling unsupported by your colleagues or management, or feeling like you don't have the resources or tools necessary to succeed in your role. Do you have someone you trust at work who you can go to for help? What’s your relationship with your manager and colleagues like?
Beyond the office, it’s important to have a great support system who you can rely on too. Who are your closest friends that you go to when you need emotional support? Do you have a partner that you can rely on and trust?
Not having the right support system in place can create feelings of isolation and a sense of carrying all of your burdens on your shoulder. This leads to burn out as you feel like you’re dealing with everything alone rather than talking openly and sharing with those you trust the issues you’re experience in life.
What Should You Do If You’re Burnt Out?
So, what can you do to prevent burnout? The first step is to recognize the signs and take action early. If you're feeling irritable, unmotivated, or just generally exhausted, it's important to take a step back and evaluate your situation.
One of the most effective ways to prevent burnout is to make sure you're taking care of yourself. This means getting enough sleep, eating well, and making time for exercise or other activities you enjoy. It's also important to set boundaries and prioritize self-care, even if it means saying no to some work or social commitments.
Another key factor in preventing burnout is finding meaning in your work. If you feel like you're just going through the motions and not making a difference, it can be easy to feel disengaged and burnt out. Take some time to reflect on your values and what's important to you, and see if you can find ways to align your work with those values. If you’re not happy in your current career, perhaps it’s time you consider a career change.
Finally, it's important to seek support when you need it. Talk to trusted friends, family members, or colleagues about what you're going through, and consider seeking professional help if necessary. If you don’t have a manager who’s understanding, consider the HR department at your company, or a colleague whom you trust.
In conclusion, feeling burnt out in the middle of your career is a common experience, but it's not inevitable. By recognizing the signs of burnout, taking care of yourself, finding meaning in your work, and seeking support, you can prevent burnout and regain a sense of fulfillment and purpose in your career. So, take a deep breath, put on some soothing music, and remember that you've got this!