*EDIT* Whilst writing my next blog post (currently it’s the end of April) I have come to realise I have created (by fortunate mistake!) a mini series encompassing “The Mindset of a Millennial”. So here is 1/12. Enjoy.
Let’s just dive straight in the deep end shall we….
So what does ‘Burnout’ really mean?
Although often coined together with the term “exhaustion,” “burnout” is a whole new ball game. Exhaustion, defined as – the state of extreme mental and/or physical fatigue, or put a bit simpler, – having nothing ‘left in the tank’ so to speak. Burnout however, often describes – reaching this point of exhaustion, but continually pushing forward past this. This progression could go on for days, months or even years. It is interestingly now recognised as an ‘Occupational Phenomenon’ by The World Health Organisation. THIS is burnout. And WE are The Burnout Generation.
I think the shift that is happening in our generation, compared to those of our parents and grandparents is; the expectation for us to work towards and past this point of ‘exhaustion,’ and hence us becoming ‘The Burnout Generation.’ Unfortunately for us, I don’t believe a week away to the Maldives *or insert other luxurious resort here* is a possible quick fix to help us recover and recharge, before getting straight back to the wagon. I no longer think this is just an acute phase, but a progressive and systemic issue in our environment. It’s not just working long hours and lack of rest time. But instead;- white noise, constantly in the background telling you that you’re not working hard enough, you can always give that little bit more; asking…. why aren’t you succeeding more and failing less? A consistent reminder to our failures and that our work is never and can never be enough.
For me Burnout is a potential that is always continually very real.
I always feel like there is something to do. Perhaps this is now a concept we are just supposed to accept as ‘adults’. However, my work/ social/ rest balance is VERY off. I manage to eat, sleep, work (multiple jobs) and gym, which leaves very little time for myself or friends. If I created an exhaustive to-do list of all the things that needed sorting in my personal and professional life, then I would spend so much time creating this gigantic list that I would never get round to actually starting it. BUT, I don’t believe burnout is just the above. It’s being hyper in every sense, the expectations for us to follow this behaviour and mindset are an essential part of this concept and this is existential; you’ve got to be the happiest you’ve ever been, whilst working the hardest you’ve ever worked, whilst completing more tasks than ever, in littler time than ever before, whilst helping others more than ever, all without coming up to the surface for airrrrrrrr. (GASP!) And if you try and take a breather then woah, that is not allowed. No rest for the wicked. You must be failing/ (or just plain lazy) if you have time to take breaks. This is of course not true, taking a break doesn’t equate to failure. BUT. It sometimes feels like we could be giving in. And this sense of overwhelming weight and pressure on ourselves leads us to do, guess what with our to-do lists….. absolutely-fricking-nothing:- because we are so paralysed by the potential of what we think we need to do, that instead, we take no action because we become victim to paralysis by analysis. We fear failing SO much that we stay still. Because, if you stay on the ledge and don’t step off, then that means you are safe right? We forget that if we take the step then maybe, just maybe we could fly, but our ongoing belief that we are not achieving enough is having a long term consequence on our self confidence and future ability to take action.
Our Millennial thoughts and behaviours are exacerbating this belief that we are not working enough, not producing enough and quite frankly overall in ourselves we are just not enough. On top of this, having full access to everyone’s ‘lives’ online, and I use the term ‘lives’ very loosely (we know it’s a highlight real and constructed personal brand by now) – means we have the opportunity for comparison to billions of other people at the touch of our fingertips in seconds. – We cannot be forgetting this online presence is global, so no matter what time of day you are online, somewhere in the world it is someone’s ‘normal working day hours’ and you will see them posting about their ‘grind’ as many of us do ….. probably thinking well I don’t deserve success, because they’re working and I’m sat here scrolling watching their efforts, rather than working on my own.
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All of the above is a vicious cycle that we really need to BREAK.
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Today is day 1/366 of 2020. It’s time to start thinking about shifting this Millennial stereotype and take care of ourselves and those around us by breaking this cycle. We will in fact NOT BE The Burnout Generation. Until next time…
Love J xoxo
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