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Career Fatigue and ways to handle it

how to handle career fatigue

Many of us are familiar with the dreaded Sunday scaries—the feeling of dread that sets in as we anticipate the start of another workweek. But what if this feeling becomes constant, and you find yourself dreading work more often than not? This could be a sign of career fatigue. If you’re feeling increasingly uninspired in your current job, you may be experiencing career fatigue. We asked experts for their advice on how to overcome it.

It’s reassuring to know that if you feel this way, you’re not alone. Research from Gallup shows that employment unhappiness reached an all-time high in 2022, leading many people to consider a career change. However, making a career switch, especially in the current economic climate, is not as easy as it sounds. It can be mentally, emotionally, and financially intimidating to navigate your feelings about your job and whether leaving it is the right decision.

Recognizing the signs of career fatigue and understanding when a job is negatively impacting your mental health is crucial for establishing a healthy work-life balance. Perhaps you need to renegotiate the terms of your role to align more with your interests, or maybe it’s time for a job change. If you’re feeling conflicted about this important choice, we’ve got you covered.

Signs of Career Fatigue

According to personal change life coach Deborah Southgate, career fatigue often begins with a sense of imbalance. This means there is a significant gap between what you’re investing in your work and what you’re getting out of it. Similar to romantic relationships, career satisfaction depends on having your needs met. Feeling disenchanted or unhappy with your career can arise when these needs are not fulfilled. These needs often revolve around personal growth, feeling accepted in the workplace, and enjoying social interactions with colleagues, says Southgate. One key warning sign of career fatigue is a constant lack of motivation to go to work, according to psychotherapist Laura Greenwood. She adds, “Career fatigue can lead to clinical levels of depression, stress, and anxiety. Our careers can feel like a significant part of our identity, so falling out of love with them can make us feel lost.” It’s important to recognize that these feelings are valid.

Coping with Career Fatigue

Take time to acknowledge your feelings: It’s essential to differentiate between temporary career dissatisfaction and a few bad weeks. Is work going through a busy season or a particularly stressful period? These factors can affect your perception of your job and might pass in a few days or weeks. “Sometimes there are phases when work isn’t exciting, and things need to shift,” says Laura Beyer, a career fulfillment coach. “But if this continues over a longer period, listen to your gut, feelings, and body—they’ll tell you when it’s time to make changes.”

Assess what matters to you: When facing a career crisis, think deeply and strategically about what is working and what isn’t. “Ask yourself, what do you want? What do you value in your career? Don’t be afraid to be bold here. Your list doesn’t have to be seen by anyone but you,” advises Greenwood. It’s no secret that women often feel less confident when it comes to demanding more from their jobs. Remember that employment is a two-way street, and your job should bring you satisfaction just as you contribute to the organization.

Reclaim control: Despite how it may feel, your job can and should serve you. “What keeps you going?” Greenwood encourages asking yourself. “Look for the positive aspects. There may be parts of your job you don’t love, but there might be something you like, love, or value—even if it’s small. It could be a good colleague or having flexible hours to pursue other hobbies.” Remember that you have power. Beyer suggests asking yourself, “What can I do right now?” This could involve taking care of yourself, exploring new job opportunities, or having a conversation with your current employer. Sometimes, a single conversation can change everything.

Knowing When It’s Time for a Career Change

You might already be doing the above and still feeling low about your job, and that’s okay. There comes a point when you must prioritize your mental health and happiness. But how do you know when it’s time for a change? Here are some indicators, according to experts:

Negative physical health effects: Pay attention to your sleep patterns, as poor sleep can indicate that your job is taking an unhealthy toll on you. “If your sleep is suffering—for example, waking up at night thinking about work—this is a sign that your career is negatively impacting you,” explains Southgate. Other physical symptoms might include boredom, monotony, a lack of purpose or creativity, all of which can contribute to declining mood and poor mental health, says Greenwood.

Negativity spills into personal life: Feeling down about your job during work hours is one thing, but if this negativity starts affecting your personal relationships and social life, it might be time to consider a change. No job is worth sacrificing your mental well-being. Signs of this may include having little energy or motivation for relationships and hobbies, feeling like work consumes all your time, and having a sense of detachment from your personal life, warns Greenwood. Southgate agrees, noting that constant dread about work becoming the norm indicates the need for change.

Remember, career fatigue is a common experience, and recognizing it is the first step towards finding a solution. By taking the time to understand your needs and evaluating your options, you can regain control and make choices that prioritize your well-being and fulfillment.

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