Author Topic: Burnout  (Read 5552 times)

Bearded Man

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Burnout
« on: June 15, 2015, 10:44:45 AM »
How to avoid it, cure/treat it, and recognize it? What causes it? I'm working a new high paying and high stress job while going to grad school full time and managing a part time business. I feel like I've checked out though and nothing really matters. Maybe it's because the 500K I have now and the cash flow allows me to retire now if I go back to my old house or down size like I plan to anyway. Maybe I've just been doing this too long. Maybe it's because I am still dealing with the same crap and I need a change. Or maybe I'm just in a funk and it will pass. I mean, I get to work from home, and make a lot of money with good benefits. Though the downsides are stress, constant technical problems from all corners of the building, and general politics.

But the allure of the 150K salary was too much to pass up. If I retire 2 years from now at 35, 5 years earlier than originally planned, I can hold my head high and should have about 950K or more NW between investment gains and savings. I'm trying to hold out for two more years because of the extra money and where it puts me or would put me; this job allows me to save two years of savings for each year I work it, so two years will give me four years worth of savings. Once I have 900k+ I probably REALLY won't give a crap.

That said I'm more keen, as other posters have posted, on dealing with people now than technical work. Yes it has its own stresses, but man I have zero interest in technical stuff anymore. Been there, done that, all I see now are the negatives of it. YOU'RE the person accountable to deliver, not the PM's, BA's and the hordes of other support personnel. A lot of these roles merely make stuff up for you to do, like where I work now, we have 5 PM's to every technical resource!! Even your manager is really not the one on the hook.Yes, he or she has to explain to the organization if it doesn't get delivered, but they will just blame it on you more than likely, because at the end of the day, YOU are the one that has to do the actual work! Mostly people and process is what interests me now. Plus as management, especially senior management (working way up to it) you have decision making authority.

In any case, I'm trying to hang on two more years and then maybe go into a more full time management role (I'm a lead now with a few direct reports). Not sure I will make it though. Part of me wants to go into management now even if it means a pay cut. I don't know if I'm just bored with what I'm doing and stressed from the BS that is involved not to mention the myriad of things that can go wrong on the job. I'm conflicted. I would have liked to do 7 more years of high income work to add to my nest egg, but I'm wondering if I should take a bull shit job after this or sooner and do something I don't dread? Like recruiting for example. Corporate recruiters in my area make about 60-70K a year. With a paid off house and rental properties as well as cash in the bank, I could bank most of that income and still live like a King. I dunno, I'm thinking out loud.

The allure of IT when I was making 35K a year was the high income. I have it, have had it for a while now, and saved the money and used it to make more money now. But if I found something I enjoyed that paid good, I'd go do it. Like recruiting (not agency but corporate). I'd still be able to save money and can let my investments compound. Maybe work longer than 7 more years who knows. Maybe change careers again after that. I mean, people change careers every 7 years they say right? I find absolutely no purpose or reason for what I do at work other than getting money to invest. I'm not trying to find my purpose in life or anything, but I just don't care about what I do for some reason. What I do care about is a job where I am not tired after coming home and don't dread going in the next day. I guess high paying jobs are high paying for a reason, eh...

All I know is that I'm tired of what I'm doing now. Or is it that I'm tired of working? I guess I'd have to change jobs to see. At the same time, I'm not sure I'm ready to retire right now and sleep in for the next 50 years while I spend my days fishing. Surely there is a happy medium or some solution. Part time work, is meh. I'm thinking something else, career change perhaps. Or going from hands on into management period.

desk_jockey

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Re: Burnout
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2015, 10:59:11 AM »
If you can retire in 2 years, drop the grad school for now to free up time and lower stress.  Pick back up the grad school later when you retire if it still holds your interest. 

Bearded Man

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Re: Burnout
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2015, 11:12:20 AM »
Grad school, although stressful, is interesting at least for now. I just started and I only have just over a year to go. I want to get it while the getting is good. It is an AACSB accredited program from a public state school, and I'm able to complete it in a year or so since I was a business major in undergrad. Besides the schools credentials, it's a reasonable price especially since I only have to do one year. Company tuition reimbursement almost makes the MBA free...

I think the grad school thing, along with this job, are things I should stick out at the least, if I can. In 2 more years, I should have about 900k+ in the bank and my MBA. At that point, if I am not happy, I can re-evaluate and maybe go into HR. My MBA should help with that.

Right now I'm thinking, it sucks, it's hard, but you've worked for 15 years already, what's 2 more? I try to remind myself there are people working shit jobs with split days off for minimum wage then going back to crappy shared apartments in the ghetto after standing on their feet all day and having each break timed and monitored.

I should be able to stomach this for 2 years at this pay rate. I think the key thing is to focus on finishing putting the machinery in place while I still have a high income. 4 houses owned now, need one more. At that point, I'm maxed out on my loans anyways and am getting richer through cash flow, principal pay down and appreciation, not to mention tax benefits. Maybe this is what I should use to motivate me. Focusing on my real estate/rental/property management business.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2015, 12:34:53 PM by Bearded Man »

CommonCents

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Re: Burnout
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2015, 11:19:26 AM »
If you won't drop the grad school, can you hire someone to manage the part-time business for you?  If not, then your options are limited to sucking it (put your head down and work for the two years), quitting the high pay but stressful job or doing everything half-assed (with potential repercussions - doing poorly in school, unhappy boss - who can likely easily demote you again during the trial period, etc.).  Intentionally doing things half-assed for 2 years seems fraught with peril to me - you can do that for 2 months, but longer periods I think will catch up to you.

little_brown_dog

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Re: Burnout
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2015, 11:25:56 AM »
burnout recognition - seems like you might be suffering from it. burnout is often characterized by lack of investment, lower quality work, a feeling of work being meaningless, depression, helplessness.  burnout is most common in those employees who have a lack of autonomy (ex: those who are held responsible for actually doing the work, but rarely have a real say in accepting or declining projects) or those with extremely high workloads.

a big red flag is feeling trapped or dreading your workday - when I was burnt out I would cry many nights because I didn't want to go to work the next day but I couldn't see a way out. every day was basically a repeat of the last one - me desperately trying to accomplish 90 million tasks that others demanded (saying no was never an option). my workload was too high...and even though i was really productive, everything felt meaningless. like i was spinning my wheels going nowhere. i became so burnt out that I developed chronic migraine (never had a problem before) and felt beaten down and fatigued all the time. it was frightening.

how did i fix my burnout? drastic and expensive steps that have slowed down my progress towards my financial goals but drastically improved my quality of life. it was either that or continue to feel trapped while experiencing chronic pain. i went to acupuncture and massage therapy for a few months, and told my boss that I absolutely had to reduce my work hours to part time due to my health problems. as a family, we basically just agreed that work could no longer be the center of our lives come what may.

wouldn't you know it, the migraines disappeared. the depression disappeared. my productivity while at work increased and overall my positive attitude returned. my husband's life improved dramatically because he wasn't dealing with a depressed, sick, and snappy wife all the time. 100% worth the drop in pay, and the reduced promotional opportunities.

my biggest recommendation is to reduce your workload in any way you can. can you reduce your work hours at your job? or maybe the hours you put into your business or grad work? you need free time EVERY DAY to recharge, especially when you are recovering from burn out. the time you use to make dinner or shower doesn't count :)

Bearded Man

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Re: Burnout
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2015, 01:00:03 PM »
Good idea on the recharging time daily. Also, one thing I only seem to do 2-3 times a year these days but I always loved and did every month a long time ago (10+ years, before undergrad) was camping. Even my gf has commented that I seem happiest when camping. The peace and quiet, the campfire and cooking over it, the simple life, oh how I love it.

I think I will try to go camping more often and get away more. Right now I'm leaning toward at least sticking this job out for the two years and then re-evaluating. All the while I will be working toward getting more management credentials (MBA, PMP, etc.) so I can more easily make the transition. I seem to be able to get management gigs for 70K all day (fewer people interested at that pay) and for the specialized roles that I qualify for, around 140K, but they are less frequent than the 70K ones that I can get now.

I figure, get at this job while the getting is good. Even if anything happens to the job, I will just move to a management only role for me from now on. I think that might be best. Yes, I will likely take a pay cut for now, but I will enjoy it more and eventually grow back into a higher paying management position that is closer to my current IT Engineering income. Sounds reasonable to me. I mean crap, 10 years ago, I was living check to check with the prospect of working until the day I died. 2 more years and I'm practically a millionaire? I think I should tough it out, and only pull the plug if I am about to have a breakdown. I think the next focus for me is management. I have been one before (am quazi one now) and am ready to go back. Even if it is just program management.

StockBeard

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Re: Burnout
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2015, 02:03:53 PM »
A lot of these roles merely make stuff up for you to do, like where I work now, we have 5 PM's to every technical resource!! Even your manager is really not the one on the hook.Yes, he or she has to explain to the organization if it doesn't get delivered, but they will just blame it on you more than likely, because at the end of the day, YOU are the one that has to do the actual work!
I've been on both sides of this fence, as a software engineer initially and then moved to a PM role. It of course depends of where you work, but I can ensure you that the stress level of the "technical resource" is nowhere close to that of the PM. As a PM, you're responsible for every single point of failure in a project, even though you cannot fix any of the problems yourself (and you're in general not the source of the problem either). Additionally you have to convince human beings to help you with the project, otherwise it will be a failure. Have you ever thought about how much more difficult it is to convince a human, than a machine, to do the work you expect it to do?

The situation is even worsened for people like me who like to be in control of their destiny. When you're not the person actually building the project anymore, you control nothing, pretty much.

I've been responsible for explaining losses of several million dollars to my company, caused by a bug in the code. I personally know the engineer who wrote that code, but, you know, many PMs are humans too, they realize their job is also to not throw people under the bus. As a result, the stress is on me.

Believe me, being an individual contributor was much, much less stressful to me than being a product/project manager.

Just my 2 cents: if you're looking for less stress, PM/manager is not the direction you want to go

Rollin

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Re: Burnout
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2015, 02:23:46 PM »
Hit the refresh button!  You have recognized you are burnt, but may not recognize that you have a whole lotta stuff going on.  One can only do so much before your productivity drops, and your enthusiasm for living drops too.  In other words, one tends to look at that whole two years at once, as opposed to day to day.  That could make anyone unhappy and overwhelmed.

Getting outside (camping or whatever) can do wonders for the spirit.  Also, just moving about with walking, running, riding a bike is fantastic.

I know, most want some magic bullet, but it really can be that simple.  At least you might get to a better place to make your decision to move to another job.  Right now you seem like you might not be thinking clearly.

Full Beard

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Re: Burnout
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2015, 03:03:32 PM »
You started from the bottom and now you're here.....I think that's a rap song or something.  Just remember how far you've come from working a 35K dollar a year job and thinking you'd work forever, to bringing in 150K and working another 2 years to never have to work again at 35 years of age.  That is pretty impressive to me.

You have to do what makes you happy.  Maybe just focusing on your rental properties and maybe becoming a realtor and selling properties.  Definitely get out and do some more camping on the weekends because that is what makes you happy. 
« Last Edit: June 15, 2015, 04:16:28 PM by Full Beard »

okits

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Re: Burnout
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2015, 11:52:05 PM »
Any chance you can take a significant break?  Say, three consecutive weeks of vacation?  Or a sabbatical of a few months?  Getting completely away from what was burning you out (and immersing yourself into something else) is healing. You'll be less burnt out when you return, and better able to handle the last two years of accumulation.

(Personally, unless I knew I was at my limit I would tough it out.  Maybe not the healthiest choice, but perhaps the most efficient one.)

Ricky

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Re: Burnout
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2015, 03:23:55 AM »
Quit. Or negotiate time off. There will be plenty of time in the future to make more money. I don't care if it's $500k a year. It's not worth it unless you're happy.

Also, I see no reason to get an MBA in your shoes. Absolutely none.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2015, 08:15:17 AM by Ricky »

lhamo

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Re: Burnout
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2015, 03:59:02 AM »
burnout recognition - seems like you might be suffering from it. burnout is often characterized by lack of investment, lower quality work, a feeling of work being meaningless, depression, helplessness.  burnout is most common in those employees who have a lack of autonomy (ex: those who are held responsible for actually doing the work, but rarely have a real say in accepting or declining projects) or those with extremely high workloads.

a big red flag is feeling trapped or dreading your workday - when I was burnt out I would cry many nights because I didn't want to go to work the next day but I couldn't see a way out. every day was basically a repeat of the last one - me desperately trying to accomplish 90 million tasks that others demanded (saying no was never an option). my workload was too high...and even though i was really productive, everything felt meaningless. like i was spinning my wheels going nowhere. i became so burnt out that I developed chronic migraine (never had a problem before) and felt beaten down and fatigued all the time. it was frightening.

how did i fix my burnout? drastic and expensive steps that have slowed down my progress towards my financial goals but drastically improved my quality of life. it was either that or continue to feel trapped while experiencing chronic pain. i went to acupuncture and massage therapy for a few months, and told my boss that I absolutely had to reduce my work hours to part time due to my health problems. as a family, we basically just agreed that work could no longer be the center of our lives come what may.

wouldn't you know it, the migraines disappeared. the depression disappeared. my productivity while at work increased and overall my positive attitude returned. my husband's life improved dramatically because he wasn't dealing with a depressed, sick, and snappy wife all the time. 100% worth the drop in pay, and the reduced promotional opportunities.

my biggest recommendation is to reduce your workload in any way you can. can you reduce your work hours at your job? or maybe the hours you put into your business or grad work? you need free time EVERY DAY to recharge, especially when you are recovering from burn out. the time you use to make dinner or shower doesn't count :)

This.  My experience of burnout was very similar to lbd's.  I tried several times over the last few months to "hit the reset button and get priorities in order" (see my journal with a similar title for details), but ultimately what brought a sense of balance/peace back was resigning.  Even up to a few days before I resigned I was having regular immobilizing panic attacks at work.  I didn't have a single panic attack after I resigned.  My blood pressure went down from high (149/high 90s) to normal (110s/80s), and none of the panic attack spikes (didn't have a BP monitor at work, but I think my BP probably was spiking into the 200s/100s during the panic attacks -- i felt like I was going to have a stroke...).

I did have some temporary success with reducing work hours when the external situation demanded it, like when my MIL came to Beijing for cancer diagnosis/treatment.  I was able to put work on the back burner for a 8-10 week period while that was developing/going on/resolving.  Really hard to control the amount of time required at work without such dramatic external factors, though. 

I would encourage you to consider moving into the role you think would be a better fit, even if it is lower pay.  One of the things that made me so miserable my last two years at work was that I wasn't working in my sweet spot.  I was having to deal with all kinds of administrative crap that I could do, but that I hated.  I wasn't able to spend hardly any time on what I love, which is project/program work.  That is what energizes me.  I can spend long hours working on a project design or evaluation, and still have tons of energy at the end of the day.  Cross checking excel formulas and tweaking budget projections?  Oh, lord -- poke my eyes out with a fork and declare me done now! 

asiljoy

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Re: Burnout
« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2015, 05:25:00 AM »
This sounds stupid, but if you're going to keep up this pace for 2 years, a long vacation isn't going to help much. You'll just burn out again after you come back and it'll be worse because now you'll be behind at work. If you do lots of little vacations, you're going to start a cycle of super happy to be away, to even sadder to be back to work.

You either need to figure out how you can learn to thrive in that environment, change it, or leave it. You don't really delve into what's causing you stress at work beyond the generic. I'm wondering if some of those things can't be tempered. You state, "Though the downsides are stress, constant technical problems from all corners of the building, and general politics."

The easiest one to take care of is general politics. You know you're out in two years with a more or less free MBA. WHO CARES WHAT JIMMY DID TODAY?? Let it fly over your head and focus on other things. Do not engage. Do your job and shut off your computer when you're done for the day.

For the constant technical problems... are you in support? If not, is there someone you can offload that onto or someone you can train so that you can offload that onto? Or at least part? It may be worth a talk with your manager about what you'd like to focus your time/be best focusing your time; frame it like, "Sir/Madam, while I understand the need for xyz, my talents return the best value for the company when I focus on abc. Can we brainstorm ways that I can focus more on abc?"

For the general stress, you need to identify what's causing it. Moving to management will likely cause more, not less stress for the reasons stated by wololo. Just personal experience, but I found working from home daily caused me more stress than going to an office 2/3 days a week. For whatever, reason, problems just got magnified over the phone or the problems weren't brought to my attention when I was at home until they ballooned. And, I felt a need to overproduce when I was at home, to justify that I was capable from working from home.

Getting your MBA and working can be done, but there's no way getting around the fact that you're going to be busy for the next year. I'm always going to support education, especially free education, but make sure to take care of yourself. You may be feeling a little of the golden shackles here.

Also, here's this, because it seemed applicable to this thread. (I'm sorry if you aren't a Parks and Rec fan. Go watch Parks and Rec if you haven't seen it)



Axecleaver

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Re: Burnout
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2015, 01:26:34 PM »
You're simply overcommitted. You need some down-time to camp, relax, and de-stress as part of your regular routine. Make a list of the stuff you're doing. Maybe something like:

Day job
Rental maintenance
Grad school

Prioritize them. Can you outsource any of these? Maybe you could outsource part of your day job so you could focus on the other things. Or, maybe you could give up some of your rental profits to hire a management company until you finish school. Delay finishing the MBA by cutting back on classes. Anything to free up a little more time.

Like the other posters, my experience with management is that it was much higher stress than technical work. You may be under the impression that project managers and department heads just sit around surfing the web all day. Usually, they're working on much more complex people problems. When I made the switch, I did it because I felt I had learned all I could on the engineering side, and management looked like a much more nuanced and complex job - and it is. But having an engineering background is a tremendous leg up if you do go into management, because our BS detectors are much harder to fool.

And as other posters pointed out, why are you killing yourself to get an MBA if you don't want to work anymore? That piece of your post really confused me.

The Beacon

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Re: Burnout
« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2015, 07:55:14 PM »
In any case, I'm trying to hang on two more years and then maybe go into a more full time management role

I think we are perhaps in the same field.  But I am still interested in tech. However, what I do not like is that I sometimes have to work on things I hate. Anyways. management has its own pros and cons.  My manager is busy as hell.  He is on call all the time. I would not trade my position with his. I actually had an opportunity to move into management.  But I refused. I'd rather spend all my spare time on my side gig that I truly love and one day will become my own business.  For now, I just need finish my stuff and call it a day.  If anything goes wrong in production, my manager gets canned not me even if he will yell at me at a later point. Plus, If I just follow the company process, I will never get yelled at. But he will because he defines the process that we follow.

« Last Edit: June 16, 2015, 07:57:34 PM by Sharpy »

StockBeard

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Re: Burnout
« Reply #15 on: June 16, 2015, 07:58:57 PM »
For now, I just need finish my stuff and call it a day.  If anything goes wrong in production, my manager gets canned not me even if he will yell at me at a later point.
Exactly what I was trying to say above! Totally agree.