How to Know If your Tech Job is Burning You Out (Free Bonus: 6 Tips)
If you asked me whether I was burned out 5 years ago when I was overworking every day, I’d tell you, “no, I just need a break” Reality was my close friends and family were probably tired of me not showing up in gathering or complaining all the time.
If you asked me 3 years ago when I started to have mysterious pain in my body, I’d tell you that I just need to change my diet and exercise more (which was partially true).
2 years ago? I’d say, “I feel fine, just got back from Bali. Can’t wait for the next holiday” I was detached and felt like a walking zombie most of the time.
Last year? I’d tell you I was depressed and had to take two months off (luckily Google offers short-term disability leave benefits, that was my first time learning depression was classified as short-term disability). I felt lonely, hopeless, and anxious. I cried for no reason randomly. I questioned zillion times whether I was on the right path despite a successful life on paper.
I tried a few therapists with all different modalities from CBT to talk therapy to CPT, none of them helped me move forward.
The truth was I was so blind that I never associated myself with burnout. All those “quick fix” bandage solutions pulled me into this repetitive burnout cycle. Till I had to take an anti-depressant and began to take it seriously before it is too late.
I am writing this article in a hope of educating more professional women in Tech like myself on what burnout is, feels like, and the consequences if ignored.
What is burnout?
Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.
Job burnout includes emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment. Among them, exhaustion is the central quality of burnout; depersonalization is an attempt to distance yourself from the service recipient by actively neglecting the qualities that make it unique.
The real causes of burnout are unmet emotional needs.
“Researchers looked into how workplace stress impacts mortality and health costs in the United States and found that it led to nearly 120,000 deaths and nearly $190 billion in spending each year.”
Burnout is caused by:
1. A perceived lack of control or autonomy
Pro tip 1: Working in the fast-changing and hyper-growth tech industry with this “fail fast, iterate fast” culture, you can easily feel nothing is within your control.
Assess what’s within your control and what’s not, accept it, and choose intentionally where you want to spend your energy for the optimal outcome
Pro tip 2: Enjoy the journey. Being in control is an illusion created by our ego. Practice soul-centered living (Link to the other article I wrote – “Without This Step, You Will Stuck in the Burnout Cycle” on soul-centered living vs. ego-centered living and how embodying a soul-centered living can give you ultimate inner peace and joy)
2. A feeling of insufficient reward or recognition
Pro tip 3: Your thoughts guide your feelings. Examine your thoughts and validate how accurate they are.
Pro tip 4: Get clear on what kind of rewards or recognitions are important to you, go back to your values, and start to train your mind to let go of the rewards that do not matter to you.
For example, Connection and growth are two of my top values, being recognized by things tied back to my value are more important, be it a sincere “thank you” from my coaching client, or an acknowledgment from my manager “hey I noticed that your leadership skill grew a lot in the past year” in a professional development discussion. Slowly letting go of my older attachment to the “top employee” award because “competitive” was not my top value, to begin with, helped me find peace from within
3. A perceived lack of social support/community
Pro tip 5: Have you heard of an energy vampire? It’s time to create your support system intentionally. Link to read my article on How to Create your Perfect Support System
4. Feeling a shortage of meaning/purpose
Pro tip 6: Avoiding or overcoming burnout is never just about learning a simple tactic, it’s an inner journey that requires you to discover your uniqueness and master your emotions.
If you were like me, tried all bandage strategies to fix your exhaustion, anxiety, and burnout, and none of them worked, it’s time to rethink your strategy with the “return on investment” in mind.
Good internal discipline, good thoughts, a healthy body, a good soul, this is the best place of sanctuary and relaxation, I hope you keep yourself that gift and help you put in the work, so you can have it when you need it. Your radiance will light others.
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I’m Sha! I've created this space for inner reflection, emotional healing, personal growth and inspiration. Enjoy a cup of tea and some transformational and practical wellbeing & personal growth tips here.