When Passion Fizzles: How To Cope When The Work You Love Burns You Out

 

 

It’s one of the most commonly faced conundrums today: what if you love the work you do, but it’s also causing you to burn out? The very same work that exhilarated and fuelled your enthusiasm in the past, now leaves you resentful, cranky, and even bored: things you never imagined you’d face when you first started out.

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The fact of the matter is that burnout happens to everyone, even the most passionate and enthusiastic of us. As unimaginable as it may be to take a step back from your passion and take an objective look at yourself and your well-being, sometimes that’s exactly what you need to do.

The more you leave burnout untreated, the more it festers and grows within until it starts to infect every aspect of your work, and even the people around you as well.

To that end, here are three things you can do to reinvigorate yourself when your passion starts to burn you out.

P.S. Master the art of emotional self-awareness and self-regulation with SSA Academy’s WSQ course on applying emotional competence to manage self and others in a business context!

 

1. Temper your expectations

 

Our perceptions play a huge role in determining the intensity with which we allow negative events to take a toll on us. Burnout, like other hardships you may experience in life, adversely effects all of us at some point, but it often weighs more heavily on the shoulders of someone who pursues his passion for a living than for someone who doesn’t.

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When your work is your passion, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that “if you love what you do, work is play and play is work.”

Hence, even when you realise you’re starting to get burnt out (or are already burnt out), you might ignore the signs and red flags and keep going, because you tend to think “I shouldn’t be feeling exhausted; I love my work.” The longer you leave burnout untreated, though, the harder it gets to come back from it.

It’s important to realise two things, even when you’re pursuing your passion:

  • Not every aspect of your work will be enjoyable
  • You are just as susceptible to burnout as someone for whom his work isn’t his passion

 

 

2. Learn to set proper boundaries with yourself

 

At first, the boundless energy that you feel for your might seem like an infinitely replenishing wellspring. When you love what you do, it feels like there’s no such thing as “too much work.”

As with everything else, though, there are limits to this. People who are passionate about what they do often underestimate how important it is to consider the weight of their workloads or the environment in which they work.

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In other words, they often fail to set proper boundaries at work; they may bite off more than they can chew for too long. Worse, they might go out of their way to ignore toxic work environments for the sake of the work they do. Both of these things erode engagement in the long run.

It’s therefore crucial that you start setting proper boundaries with the work you do:

  • Know your threshold when it comes to your workload; learn to share the burden of your work and delegate tasks to others so you don’t exhaust yourself
  • Approach toxic co-workers and behaviour at work constructively, instead of enduring it silently and indefinitely
  • Allow yourself to rest; pursuing your passion doesn’t preclude you from stress and mental exhaustion

 

 

3. Do some job crafting

 

The key to bouncing back from being burnt out from your passion is to find new ways of engaging and challenging yourself with your work–a process called “job crafting.” According to Yale professor Amy Wrezniewski, it’s “what employees do to redesign their own jobs in ways that foster engagement, satisfaction, resilience and thriving.”

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Go back to your “why”

Reinvigorate and renew your purpose. Recall what it is that made you fall in love with the work you do in the first place. Then try doing more of it, or finding ways to incorporate it more regularly into your daily routine.

 

Play to your strengths

A concrete sense of achievement can be a huge source of engagement at work, especially when it’s combined with a sense of meaning to what you do.

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