In a recent interview with Forbes, Liz Meriwether, the creator and show-runner for “New Girl,” admitted she knows her intense work schedule is not sustainable. She loves her job but she said it is also an “insane, potentially life-threatening job.” She told Forbes:
“You get to a place where you realize that this is not sustainable. You can’t work all the time because eventually the quality of the work suffers. It’s a tough job because it moves so quickly, but we have had to try and make time.”
What is key here is that Meriwether recognizes how hard she works, but that she won’t be able to do it forever. Your body won’t be able to sustain it, and your mind won’t either. This is just from personal experience, but I find that when you turn 26, all those things you could do before—like work all night and then play really hard on the weekends—stops. Your body begins to say no. For me, I found that all those things the doctor had told me growing up came true. Eating candy every day (and sometimes for breakfast) does feel really good, but it will hurt your teeth. Not stretching before you run hurts more when you’re older. More than two glasses of wine does not result in good things for my next morning. This is very different than it was in college. And even though you feel like you could work all the time, seven days a week, 24/7, you will eventually burn out. It may take a while—maybe even years—but the steam will run out and it will be harder to recharge.
According to the Mayo Clinic, job burnout is a special type of job stress—a state of physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.
The people most at risk for job burnout identify so strongly with work that their work-life balance is way off. They try to be everything to everyone. They also feel that they have no control over work.
Marissa Mayer believes that burnout can really be a result of resentment.
“Work is fun and fun is work. For me, it wasn’t a trade-off,” she said in an interview at the 92Y. But for other people, not having that Saturday afternoon to go to a movie or simply do nothing is a trade-off. She always tells her employees to find their rhythm. One young man who worked for her needed to go to Tuesday night potlucks with his friends in order to feel balanced.
If you do think you are heading towards burnout-ville and you can recognize it, try these four tips:
- Try to manage and identify the most stressful things in your career. Once you’ve identified what’s fueling your feelings of job burnout, you can make a plan to address the issues.
- Evaluate your options. Discuss specific concerns with your supervisor. Perhaps you can work together to change expectations or reach compromises or solutions.
- Make an attitude change. If you’ve become cynical at work, try to improve your outlook. What did you enjoy about work back in the day? Recognize co-workers for valuable contributions or a job well done. When you aren’t working, do things you enjoy. Exercise!
- Seek support. Whether you reach out to co-workers, friends, loved ones, or others, support and collaboration may help you cope with job stress and feelings of burnout. If you have access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), take advantage of the available services.
“We just found out we’re doing 25 episodes. I haven’t really learned how to balance it—maybe that’s next season’s goal,” Meriwether said in the interview. She admits she can’t go at this rate forever and that she has a goal to change, but it may not be for a few more seasons.
“Even if I leave in a few years and I’m bald and alone, it’s worth it.”
How do you cope with burnout? Tell us in the comments!