Burnout Recovery – It’s Not All on You

Surely you’ve looked up burnout recovery at some point in your life. 

You probably just needed confirmation of some sort. You don’t really need strangers on the internet telling you what to change so that your every day doesn’t feel as burdensome. 

Adulting 101 and a little bit more

Man exhausted by apps and notifications.

It was a process. You’ve most likely led with a few how to stay motivated at work Google searches. Most of your links are a variation of adulting 101 tips. Is this what it has come to? You mumble to yourself half frustrated, half intrigued. 

Now you’re questioning whether you’re simply having issues handling adult life, whatever that means. You’re not totally useless, you know that. You’re not being dramatic. 

What you wonder is why is it you can zoom through some of your to dos while others remain unchecked for an embarrassingly long time? Is it just a matter of preferring some things over others?

It can be. 

If you’ve lived and operated in this world long enough, you’ve most likely developed a sense for spotting high-effort, low-reward activities as well as methods to handle them appropriately.

If it doesn’t make your day to day easier to navigate, then no need to bother with it for the time being. Practical, isn’t it?

Burnout and your chores 

People portraits with checkmarks above each of them.

Regardless of how prevalent it is, most people take a long time to recognize the signs of burnout. 

That can happen for many reasons, but the driving one sitting at the root of it all is the idea that you have not completely shut down. You’re still functional, you do all these other things, you just can’t find it in you to do X, Y, Z already. But there are only so many hours in a day, you’ll get to those at some point, right? Wrong. 

It’s messed up that the rhythm of the modern world has us thinking that it’s only when you’ve reached a vegetative state that you’re in burnout. Remember this one when you put together your burnout recovery plan.

If you think with horror at your mundane chores, you’re probably burned out. You work so hard that by the time you get to these, your tank is empty. It’s still empty at your job, you know that very well, but at least in that case pretending that it’s not still gets you compensated. 

It’s not just your problem, it’s an entire generation’s problem. 

It takes 1 financial crisis

Putting together a pile of money.

Are our parents to blame?

Short answer is: yes.

Long answer is: only a little. They couldn’t have known how the economic climate would be when we would enter the job market, so they did the next best thing: raised us to fit the demands of their economic environment. 

Add to this the age-old indirect expectation that the next generation will do better than the current one in terms of everything. Sounds stressful even just on paper, huh?

How to achieve financial security? Mom? Dad? Adulting 101 tips?

From a financial point of view, the majority of us are doing way worse than our parents did when they were our age. 

Their savings carried some weight, their stability is probably the reason they could afford to marry and start a family young. If you need financial security examples from which you’ve got something to learn, look elsewhere. 

Your background has a 2008 financial crisis dictating your future. Yes, your future – how long it will take you to get to your career goals if you are to get to them at all. 

What has the financial crisis introduced? 

Full-time jobs in short supply, academic skills put on hold for babysitting gigs, jobs offering no benefits, entry-level positions far outnumbering anything else. That’s what a tight job market looks like. 

No matter how much you were thinking about how to work hard to be successful, there is only a certain type of success such an economic environment can allow. Not to mention that the focus is less on success and more on how to achieve financial security.

Losing the meta view on things

A target on an eye.

Many think of themselves as failures in such scenarios. Your classic adulting 101 meme has a punchline about how hard you’ve worked for a set of skills only to end up not using them at your job. 

A promising young programmer being a nanny for a paycheck might leave a few marks on their ego. And understandably so. You didn’t go to school to become a nanny. 

What will your parents say? 

What will your friends think? 

What about your true passion? 

Is this whole thing more about learning how to stay focused and keep going no matter what?

It’s easy for a relentlessly hard worker to simply believe that all they need to do in such circumstances is to continue to better themselves and widen their skills and network. And it is this kind of mindset in this kind of economic landscape that gets you burned out. 

This is how you start feeling guilty about leisure time because obviously if you work harder your finances are going to be looking better. 

This is how you start believing that all you need to do is figure out how to stay focused on your goals 24/7. 

This is how you’ll finally get to that place in which you feel “good enough” – yet another one of those tricky adulting 101 topics.

Gimmicky optimization

A banner saying "Do it for yourself."

In comes Instagram with its cool and trendy life narratives – even work life narratives – showing how much fun everybody else but you is having on the clock. 

Scrolling through your feed makes you question needing a burnout recovery plan at all. Am I just being a baby? Do I just need to print out some motivation tips for work and show some discipline? 

We’re a generation that has been hardly raised but much optimized. 

That’s how schools work today. Kids are being moulded to do well at a job more than ever. Every training, every course tells us about how to optimize our processes so that we can work more. The question of how to stay focused on your goals is always in the back of your mind, yet it’s still you that’s looked down upon for not doing more. 

Why? Because doing overtime as a means of standing out among your peers has become expected, because answering late night emails cannot be equated to hard labor, because nothing is ever wrong or too much, you just have poor time management skills. 

You take it if the only other option is to quit. 

It’d be not only ridiculous but also irrelevant to ask one individual to fight a company or company culture in general. 

As with most things, individual action will not lead to much. A whole new look into our ways of working is necessary if we’d like to collectively move toward genuine burnout recovery. 

If optimizing your life means making room for more work, then the entire point of optimization has been missed. 

Opinion and Commentary

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