Posts Tagged ‘Work’

I love my job. I really do. Even though I’ve worked with some of the most demanding, annoying, pain-in-the-ass co-workers, even though I’ve been physically attacked, had my heart broken by seeing some of what I have to see on a daily basis, even though I’ve frequently had to walk into a room with absolutely no preparation and very little idea of what exactly was expected of me, I love my job. Three years ago, I couldn’t say that. Five years ago, I couldn’t say that. Now I can, but not then.

I used to get burned out at work. I’d get to a certain place within the company, I’d figure out everything within the company that I needed to know in order to be effective, and I’d get bored. Sometimes being really good at my job would backfire on me and my bosses would start piling work on me that I couldn’t handle. Again and again it would happen, and when it did, I generally would get fired within the year. Eventually, I read somewhere in some book that I needed to find mentors that would help me to survive being burned out.

I tried to find a mentor, I really did. The problem was that everybody I looked to as a mentor looked at me with suspicion. I don’t know whether they thought I was playing a joke on them, or if they believed I was somehow plotting to screw them out of their job. Point is, my choices of mentors didn’t really help me to survive burn-out. It wasn’t until I had my own employees that I realized that burn-out is a terminal condition, for which there is no cure.

So, are you completely screwed?

Nope!

While it’s true that once you get burned-out, there really is little you can do to undo it (not in every case, but the majority of time), there are some things you can do to avoid burn-out.

Take your vacations: Most companies allow their full-time employees to take time off every year. Many young people (yep, I was guilty of this too) don’t take this time. They make excuses.

“I don’t need time off.”

“I’m too young to need a vacation.”

“I can’t afford to take the time off.”

“I have too much to do.”

“Blah, blah blah.”

There are a ton of other excuses as well. All of them are BS! First, if you like your job and the people you work with, you need to make sure that you are bringing in your best self to work. That means taking a few days when the opportunities present themselves. Second, the company was doing just fine before you got there, they will survive a few days without you. JUST DON’T OVERDO IT!

Leave work at work: As a teacher, I am frequently called upon to do work for school at home. I do what I need to do, but I make sure I leave as much time as possible for me to have some kind of life. Besides, when you are too attached to work, your personal relationships will suffer, which will stress you out at work, which leads to…,? You got it- burn-out!

Manage your finances: If you are a normal, you work for one major reason. You need to pay your bills and survive. If you get yourself way out of whack financially, you are going to get frustrated that your job just isn’t cutting it anymore. Once that happens, burn-out comes quickly after questions like:

“Why can’t I make enough money to catch up?”

“How come I never have any money to do anything?”

“Other people don’t go through this, why me?”

If you are being financially responsible, saving when you can, spending when you should, and are not stressed out about money you don’t have, you aren’t stressing about what your job isn’t providing for you.

Stay healthy: Much like poor financial health will affect your job performance, poor physical health will make you have to work harder to achieve the same results. Harder work for which you will NOT be paid extra. If you are working harder, but making the same amount of money, your stress level and your propensity for burn-out will increase.

Have fun! Tied to several of these things, is the basic need to have fun. I teach, Monday through Friday. When I’m healthy, I also go to a gym and work out regularly for fun. On weekends, I visit with family and play RockBand with my in-laws- for fun! I firmly believe that being able to do something that allows me to burn off some steam where I don’t have to think about work allows me to go to work ready to work and ready to avoid burn-out.

Take a nap: Along the lines of staying healthy, stay rested. Make sure you are getting enough sleep so that you aren’t tired during your work day, and try to limit exertion late at night before you go to work. Of course, some exertion is fun, relaxing, and totally worth it, so use your best judgment here.

So, before you get to the point where you are burnt out, try one or more of these ideas, or if you know of some ideas that work as well or better, let us know. Like any other terminal disease, burn-out can be prevented. Take this holiday weekend, if you are able, and start getting to the point where you are able to relax and avoid getting burnt out altogether.

Of course, there is a stage that comes before burn-out, as our friends from Foreigner can tell you.  Enjoy!

 

 


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Way back in 2007, we started a conversation about references. Back THEN, I told you one part of asking for references. In a nutshell, we discussed the importance of being courteous, diplomatic, and grateful when asking someone to be a reference for you. I expanded on this point a lot in FINANCE FOR YOUTH: THE BOOK, especially for people with little or no actual job history. But what if you actually have some experience? Who do you ask? When do you ask? Why should you ask? These are the questions that young people (and not so young people, alike) need answered.

Asking for references can be dicey when you are asking your boss so that you can move on to greener pastures. You are putting yourself out there for all sorts of badness to occur. Your boss might decide to start making your job more difficult. Your boss might decide to not give a reference. Your boss might do both. These are risks that come with adulthood. You have to decide when and where you are willing to take those risks, or you risk getting a better job somewhere. The best advice I can give is for you to not wait until the last-minute. More specifically, there are a number of precautions you can take to help ensure that you can get a good reference when the time comes. Ideally, you will want to ask for a reference as you are leaving a company. That makes asking for references easy. But sometimes you are still working for one boss when you happen upon an opportunity that you just can’t afford to pass up.

Way before you start looking:

1.  Be a good employee. This might sound stupid and not worthy of needing to be said, but you’d be surprised at how many young people (and older people as well) are perfectly mediocre employees for most of their time with an employer, only becoming model employees a short time before they ask the hapless employer for a letter of recommendation. This doesn’t work. You have to be a good employee ALL THE TIME! Employers look at your performance every day. They want to get a good feel for what type of employee you are. If you have a bad day, they can write that off as an anomaly. Or, if you are persistently a bad employee, your boss can write off the few good days before you ask for references as anomalies.

2.  Take your time. Some employees barely get their permanent name tag before they decide they need to hit the dusty trail in order to find something better. Hey, that’s your right. You can jump from job to job as long as you can keep finding people to hire you. That’s one of the benefits to being young. But the other side of the benefit is the responsibility. If you decide to job-jump, you will most likely NOT get any reference from your employer.

3.  Communicate with your boss. Let your boss know what your goals are at appropriate times and in appropriate ways. Don’t bad-mouth the company ever, but if your goals include a different path, be honest about it. When I worked at McDonald’s, my boss never had any illusions that I wanted to become a McDonald’s manager or owner. When I worked at my last financial institution, they knew that they were a temporary stopping place.

While you look:

4.  Be clear. Let your boss know that you are considering putting in for another position, and let them know why. Again, don’t make it about what you aren’t getting from your current boss, but about all the opportunities that you will get from the new position. Who knows? Maybe your current boss can meet your needs. Especially in an economy like the one we find ourselves in currently, I strongly endorse keeping the job you have over hoping you can do better somewhere else.

5. Be classy. If you plan on asking your boss for a recommendation, give them the opportunity to say no without you getting butt-hurt about it. Going back to number one on this list, your boss has an opinion about you. Maybe they are trying to save you some embarrassment by not giving you a reference letter. Maybe they don’t feel comfortable with writing these kinds of letters. Maybe they don’t have the authority (they might work for someone else) to do what you need. No matter what, remember that you are asking them for a favor, not demanding your due.

6. Be Timely. Look, you’re already going to want to give your boss at least two weeks’ notice when you actually leave. If you are asking for a letter, you want to give your boss at least that much time to give your request the attention you deserve. Sometimes this isn’t possible, but many times you can give your boss at least a few days notice. Under no circumstances should you go to your boss and tell them that you need a letter in an hour!

I would like you to take a few seconds and answer this poll on the look of F4Y:The Blog. 

If I get enough responses, I will change up the look to this one.  Speaking of change…,

 

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