man versus woman on a road ready to run

Although most people do not work hard or smartly enough in a job search, there is such a thing as over doing a job search and burning out. Burnout comes up on one slowly, and as such it may be hard to spot. The trick is doing proper self-reflection, living properly, and setting clearly articulated and reachable goals. Remember that just like employers have goals and problems to resolve, as do employees.  We each have needs. Finding a proper balance that deals with all the competing forces are key to health and happiness.

Recognizing Burnout

How can you tell if you have burnout? The answer is simple. Listen to yourself, how you talk to others, and what others say about you. You are with yourself 24×7, so you may not even realize that you have burnout.

The classic signs of burnout are short temperedness and irritability, lowered attentiveness, unable to recall information, and generally not being upbeat. You can snap at others for the smallest of things. Maybe being irritable while driving is not just because of too many vehicles on the road, but burnout.

The Employers

You can see that as Employers do look if you are upbeat. That is human nature, as nobody wants someone who will weigh them down (picture yourself with each half of the Titanic strapped to your legs) or needing rest and relaxation before they even start. Employers want candidates, who can hit the ground running and are at the top of their game and not someone who is irritable, tired, and needs time off before they even start.

You might even be working in a job, no job search, but if you have career burnout, then you can be a tragedy waiting to happen. Remember that employers do not care about you. They care about productivity and the resolution of their problem.

The Causes of Burnout

The obvious reason for burnout is simply piling on way too much on your plate in any day than what the mind and body can tolerate. Taking a day off during the week, whether you do or not, may not suffice for detox. Not taking a quiet hour before retiring for the night can also be a factor. We live in a wired world, where it is far too easy to be wired and going during all waking hours.

Another cause of burnout is trying to do too much. When we are younger, we have grandiose ideas of what we want to accomplish. When midlife hits and we realize that we did not do even half of what we originally set out to do, the temptation might be to double down and work harder or simply get sad. Taking time to reflect and ascertain priorities becomes a must. Do you hate what you are doing? Would taking time for a career change be in order? Maybe instead of looking for a job, more education might be the ticket. Now would be the time to pursue a dream, if it financially makes sense.

Remember that burnout is caused not just by working too much, but also can happen as the result of disliking what you are doing. If that is the case, your health and sanity might warrant a change in tactics. Issues in your personal life can also weigh you down and cause burnout and stress. A job search must take time to deal with these issues. Time is money, but not dealing with problems costs way more time and money than trying to bury the problems underneath a rug and pretending that they do not exist.

The Simple Solution

Much of the time, you can go further by taking a break. If movies are not your thing or you cannot afford that, then go for a walk or to the mall. Every job search should have regularly scheduled downtime, where you think and do something other than work. In the end, that will help your quest for employment. A job search should not be more than 10 to 11 hours of serious work a day.

The Prioritization and Reflection

What is necessary is to decide in priority order what you want to do and accomplish setting realistic goals and schedule. You should your day to accomplish these goals. Do not forget to factor in what would make you the most happy. What makes you the most happy may not be what brings in the most money, at least in the short to midterm, but will in the long-term. You will live longer too. Nothing ages a soul and body, like stress. Stress is good to a degree, but only to a degree.

If you do have stress, then take a deep breath and calm down. There is always a new day. That sounds like advice that one would ignore, but rushing to accomplish a task, taking shortcuts, being stressed, and being anything but methodical and precise will only exasperate the problem. The quickest road to success is through creating a proper game plan and then executing that plan. Discuss the plan with an outside person. You are too absorbed in your own situation to think clearly. Hire a career coach or talk to a friend, who is dispassionate and will advise you honestly. Be careful, as friends will tell you what you want to hear, not what you need to hear. They also know you very well and are, by definition, not very objective.

The Clearly Set Goals List and Daily Schedule

You may be surprised to learn that when you work to clearly set goals (not just big ones, but incremental steps towards accomplishing those goals) that you become a happier worker and have a different frame of mind. Be sure to create milestones for yourself and set rewards, big and small, for accomplishing milestones. They can be something small, like a walk around the block, or something larger. Set up a schedule for the day. Create harmony and a rhythm. That feeling of reward will give you the strength to push to the next goal and ultimately success.

The Physical Exercise Regimen

Do not forget to exercise. A healthy body is necessary for a healthy mind and reduced burnout. Workouts reduce stress, get the blood flowing, and help the mind focus. Eat properly, and make sure to get enough rest, but not too much.

Engineering principles apply to life, just as they do to an engineering project. Almost, I would call engineering principles as life principles, because how you tackle and resolve problems in life are the same than how you would handle them in engineering or solving a mystery.

You have to first understand the problem. You have to wrap your head around the problem at hand taking into account all external forces and issues. You have to write down the inputs, outputs, and define the black box function generator. You have to create plans, wire-frames, set goals, work connections, allocate resources, and methodically puzzle your way through. Rome was not built in a day, so nor are goals reached in a day.

You must also be in touch with yourself. You might want to take up meditation or yoga. The breathing exercises and stretching can help focus the mind and get you to properly self-reflect.

Remember to not bulldoze your way to a solution. Make course corrections and adjustments as necessary. Factor in feature creep wisely.

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Sarah Weinberger is a professional career coach and software and systems engineer. She can be contacted through the Butterflyvista website.

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