October 07, 2020

Burning out? Stuck? Be your own coach.

We’ve all been there: knowing we’re stressed, or even on the edge of burnout, but with no idea what to do about it. It’s a challenging situation for those experiencing it and their managers, whose arsenal of ways to support their employees might feel insufficient in moments of overwhelming stress. To put it another way: “Take some vacation time” doesn’t cut it when what people really need is for life at work to be different now.

Asking for what you need at work is daunting. When you’re not sure what that even is, it can feel hopeless. We’re here to tell you: it’s not.

The first step is to create the space to think about your situation. Maybe that’s a Saturday morning walk or an evening brainstorm. Wherever you can find a moment where focus and clarity seem in reach, take advantage of it.

The next step is to take some deep breaths. Bravely Pro Asma Batool reminds us that breathing allows us to use a different part of our brain, moving us from emotional mode to planning mode.

Finally, ask yourself some questions. 

We asked our Pros to share their favorite questions to use as jumping-off points in these situations. To start on the path to uncovering what you need, pick one or more that resonates with you and answer them as honestly as possible.

  • What’s one thing I could experiment with this week that could make life/work better than last week? – Head Pro Maureen Kennedy
  • What can I control right now? – Pro Scott Darrell

Untangling a complex web of issues can’t happen overnight. Start from a place of what you have influence over, and take things one at a time.

  • How clear am I on what’s expected of me at work? – Pro Jennifer Sukola
  • Which daily assignments am I having difficulty finishing – and how important are they? – Pro Judith Rowe

If you feel you’re working as hard as you can and still struggling to keep up, it might be time to think about your priorities and goals and align with your manager.

  • What does my calendar say about my values and priorities? – Pro Vanessa Le 
  • What made me smile this past week? What does that tell me?  – Pro Lydia Bowers

No matter how things feel right now, there are likely things about your job that you’ve been passionate about or genuinely enjoyed. It could be time to regain sight of those.

  • What do I want things to be like? What is getting in the way of that? – Pro Christy Stuber
  • What is the primary contributing factor leading to my burnout — and what do I need to thrive through this? – Pro Anitha Reddy

Sometimes the answers are right in front of you, and you just needed to create the space to invest in your well-being and concentrate on the issue.

You can answer these with a coach, a friend, or by yourself. The key is to partner with someone who can resist offering advice, and give you space to find your best next step.

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