I don’t usually post preferring to ‘like’ motivational posts and occasionally updating my work experience. I’m writing today because I want to start a conversation on something that I experienced this year …Burn Out.
Not uncommon in the public sector particularly in my field (social work) but equally experienced in most under resourced high pressure roles like teaching and nursing.
Maybe you recognise it ? You’ve given 150% on the front line, kept up staff morale, provided a safe service to the public, navigated office politics and personalities that contradict your own values whilst holding together a family/life you start feeling tired, cynical, tearful and demotivated. It makes sense that at some point in a person’s career it can happen.
I now know that this is most common for those of us who work as contractors and find it difficult to put aside enough to have a few weeks or months off in between roles. This of course would be the dream.
Now that I can name it others have been less guarded to admit that they have either gone through or are going through the same. unfortunately, the stigma of admitting that you need a break is still there albeit more implied than overt.
My last contract came to an end last week and rather than anxiously source the next role I am honestly relieved. I can admit I am tired. It was a 5 day a week 100-mile commute and I haven’t had more than a long weekend break in 2 years.
I am fiercely proud of my profession and have been almost arrogant about my ability to connect with families and motivate social work teams. To my detriment I didn’t take too much stock in learning to navigate office politics and personalities believing that just been good at what I do was good enough. Wrong. The two go hand in hand to keep you motivated and mentally secure in your role and ability to keep going. And something I will speak more on later as today is about the dreaded burn out.
We all need to be healthy in mind and body when working with the public. remembering why we entered the fields we’ve chosen needs to be at the centre of why we get up and go out every day to do a lot for materially little. when you can no longer keep that optimism at the heart of what you’re doing it’s time to take a minute and re-evaluate.
Whilst I use the last few weeks of the year to do my own healing and evaluating I keep in mind the stories of my friends and acquaintances who have come out the other end.
for instance I met a friend today for coffee. A former primary school teacher who for some time spoke about getting to the point that he could not continue teaching. when looking for advice from the head mistress he was told that most staff were on medication to manage anxiety and recommended, he speak with his G.P. The burn out eventually impacted his students and as he could afford to, he has taken a break now taking a MA in psycho-therapy whilst taking long walks in Hampstead Heath and learning about his deeper spirituality. He does not rule out ever returning to teaching but reflecting that when he does it will be when he is in a better frame of mind and hopefully governed by a more supportive government.
Similarly another friend quit her job as an occupational therapist when her partner was offered a job in Berlin a year ago. She was already disillusioned with the NHS as an employer and felt she had chosen the wrong career. She is now running a successful culinary pop up cafe in Berlin and although it is hard work she has no regrets.
Another good friend moved to Geneva with her husband after working as a P.A in the city for years and although she liked her job she saw it as dead end recognised that it didn’t speak to her deeper creative abilities. After some trail error and hard work she now owns a successful YouTube channel and is about to start a family and even has her own Coca Cola advert that’s runs in the summer. I am very proud of her.
I’m blessed to have people around me who have the courage to dream but I also recognise that career change for financial or personal issues isn’t always possible. And sometimes you just don’t know what else can you do.
I don’t have the answer but will keep you posted on my journey. I am keen to hear your stories to.