The real problem, right now, is with physicians and medical staff. Nearly 75 percent of Americans are worried their medical caregivers burned out.
And the situation with teachers is no better. A recent Gallup survey shows teachers are tied with nurses as the most stressed out professionals. They give more suspensions and bad grades when burned out, so your teenager could be onto something when he or she complains of being picked on.
Though the situation isn’t pretty, it’s preventable. Behavioral science offers us 5 ways uber-successful people handle burnout, which include:
- They realize and accept they’re burned out. Many of us buzz around unwilling to admit we are burned out. But if you feel exhausted—even after a long vacation—are noticeably less productive and feel exceptionally cranky, you could be burned out. Successful people don’t let their pride, overconfidence or their unrealistic expectations of themselves get the best of them. And it is a matter of prideful, overconfidence. To believe you can keep performing at your best on a continuous basis—or that everything will fall apart without you—is almost always overconfidence speaking. A better approach is to map out what you have to do but place a factor next to each related to how much you actually depend upon others. That helps you realize how much you might be taking on that really is impossible. The next step is see the above symptoms as really applying to them.
- They get professional coaches. That probably sounds like we’re repeating some guru’s sales tactic, but we’re not. Mayo Clinic researchers have found evidence that coaching can significantly reduce burnout. In an experiment involving 80 burned out physicians, they found that even after just 6 sessions of coaching, the experimental group felt less burnout and greater well-being. On top of this, professional coaches often helped identify burnout and overconfidence.
- They don’t ignore the problem. That same, Mayo Clinic experiment showed that ignored burnout can worsen. The group in the study which did not receive coaching became far more burned out during the course of the experiment. In other words, leaving burnout untreated could be dangerous. That’s somewhat obvious for physicians and medical staff. If you are unable to perform, start making mistakes and become cynical, it could cost someone’s life. Yet, the problem could also be severe in other professional realms. For example, there’s research suggesting teacher burnout is contagious among teachers and that follows evidence burnout among nurses and business professionals is also contagious. In other words, predecessors often set the tone for the environment. This phenomenon could ultimately cost people their careers, or even their lives, if such burnout spreads and spirals into depression. Successful people, in turn, try to address the issue directly. They are also known to pave their own way in organizations, once they realize the pace of environment could lead them to burnout.
- They actively build greater emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence—or the ability to read and understand one’s own and others’s emotions and respond to them—might seem unrelated to burnout. Yet, a recent study found that when professionals studied emotional intelligence, they exhibited greater resistance to burnout. This is at least partly related to their increased ability to handle stress. Emotional intelligence involves various stress coping strategies, as well as resilience training. The effect of emotional intelligence education could also raise greater awareness of ones own personality changes or the changes in others’s reactions. For example, cynicism or increased snarkiness are both signs successful people heed as warnings when called out by their friends and colleagues.
- They’re okay with imperfection. Scientists have shown that setting clear goals and examining progress actually reduces burnout. This is a type of perfectionism called “perfectionist strivings”. However, another type of perfectionism—“perfectionist concerns”—involves worrying about making mistakes and fears about imperfections and visible failures in the eyes of others. These latter perfectionist concerns create stress and can directly lead to burnout. Hence, the tactic of many uber-successful professionals is to strive towards perfection but not worry about imperfections along the way. This actually enables a constant sense of improvement, which the researchers show further reduces burnout risk.
Certain burnout remedies are par for the course—such as better time, work, diet and sleep management. It’s understood now that, while these are necessary to do, they seldom constitute a sufficient regimen for reducing burnout that’s already present. Instead, science has shown uber-successful people take these extra steps to make sure they get a handle on the problem and rid themselves of burnout for good.