Have you fallen out of love with your virtual career? Before you lose interest or your performance starts to suffer, check out these tips on how to reignite the remote career spark that’s been extinguished by job burnout.
According to Forbes, there are only six other countries in the world that work harder than Americans work with their 1,779 hours worked annually. And though the American work ethic is admirable, it often leads to burnout. Over time, this can adversely affect personal health and business productivity, leading to problems for both the individual and the company. Furthermore, burnout can cause:
- Chronic fatigue
- Physical and mental illness
- Loss of appetite
- Anxiety and depression
- Isolation and loneliness
- Sedentary lifestyle
Yet you won’t see this list of mental and physical side effects in any job description or disclaimer. Therefore, the burden of recognizing burnout rests squarely on your shoulders. As a result, you should familiarize yourself with the symptoms of burnout:
- Lack of enthusiasm for what you used to enjoy
- Impaired concentration
- Increased irritability
- Missed deadlines and poor-quality work
- Frequent headaches, colds, or gastrointestinal discomfort
- Negative self-talk and a sense of hopelessness
By recognizing the telltale signs of burnout, you’re better positioned to prevent a full-on burnout, as well as make changes necessary to reignite your remote career spark. On top of recognizing these symptoms, you should also use the following tips to help you avoid the common pitfalls that can lead to burnout, and how to right the ship if you’re already in the midst of a massive flame-out.
1. Figure Out What Changed
First, think about what might have extinguished your remote career spark. Whether it’s been a few weeks or a couple of years, estimate the start of your dissatisfaction. Then, consider other aspects of your life that may have influenced a change in overall happiness. Sometimes, when one area of your life is out of whack, it affects all the other areas, and it’s hard to tell which is the real source of the problem.
If you’re sure your career is the culprit, then attempt to figure out the more specific issues. For example, you may realize that:
- You’re bored
- You don’t like the people you work with
- You feel unheard or that you cannot influence change
- Your boss is overbearing
- You feel constrained
- You feel like you’re not growing
- You don’t make as much money as you’d like
- You don’t have enough time, flexibility, or vacation days
- You’re sick of traffic and being away from home
Write down your own list of reasons why you’re unhappy with work. Then, ask yourself: Are any of the reasons within my control?
Some issues, such as an overbearing boss or insufferable co-workers, are tough to mitigate. However, sometimes all it takes is an attitude adjustment or a constructive conversation with management to make sure you’re getting what you need.
2. Rediscover Your Passion
One of the biggest fallacies of adulthood is that if you follow your passion, good things will come in both your professional and personal lives. While sound in theory, this idea leaves out a major detail: passions change over time.
Think about it. When you were a kid, maybe you wanted to become a police officer, a doctor, or an athlete. Unless you’re one of the rare people who still have the same aspirations as when you were 10 and followed through with them (which turns out to be about 6% of the population), chances are something changed. But that shouldn’t stress you out. It’s a natural part of life.
If you’re still unsure, think about how many students change their major, the music you listened to as a teenager versus now, or where you see yourself 10 years from now. Things change and people change. You’re no different. And that’s okay.
However, you need to take the steps to realize what your new passion is. This might take some serious reflection and contemplation over an extended period of time. But the result will push you closer to reigniting the remote career spark that’s begun to fizzle.
Ask questions about what gives you self-worth, what makes you want to wake up in the morning, and what you’d do if money was no obstacle. This will push you in the right direction, whether you discover that you just needed a break from your current job and you still love it, or if you might want to consider the pursuit of a new career path.
3. Network as Much as You Can
Get a fresh perspective on your career and industry by networking with professionals in your field. While this is more difficult in the COVID area, using tools such as online communities, enthusiasts groups, and LinkedIn can help you network with people who can help you. When you get an opportunity, ask people questions like:
- Why did you choose this career?
- What motivates you every day?
- What personal benefits does your job afford you?
- How does this line of work help you make a difference in the world?
- How does this job help you structure your desired lifestyle?
- What are your biggest challenges?
- What do you do when you hit a wall or feel like you’re at a dead end?
The more insight you get from others, the more motivated you will be to reignite your remote career spark.
4. Seek Professional Guidance
The stigma once attached to therapy and coaching has almost completely evaporated. In fact, Generation X and millennials seek out therapy and self-help more than any other generation—a sign that it’s okay to feel lost and in need of help. If you’re suffering from burnout and want to rediscover your remote career spark, professional guidance could be your ultimate answer.
Professional guidance comes in a number of forms. You can go the more traditional route with a psychiatrist or a therapist. Or you can go with a more streamlined approach with the help of a job coach. Job coaches are licensed professionals that can assess you particular skill set, help you find your remote career spark, or point you in the direction of a more suitable career path. Of course, you’ll still have to do the heavy lifting on your own. But knowing that someone else has your back can prop you up and provide that little touch of motivation that you need.
5. Earn Some New Credentials or Find Something Work-Related That Interests You
There’s always something new to learn in any field of work. Maybe you could use a new challenge or something specific to work toward to feel motivated. Consider adding some letters to your name by earning an advanced degree or certification. The easiest way to learn is through online classes that you can take in your spare time. You may also find that some of these classes are affiliated with universities and other accredited programs and certifying organizations. Some of the more popular options include:
- LinkedIn Learning
- Khan Academy
- Code Academy
You can also ask your employer about tuition reimbursement or the potential for promotion with additional education. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that having a master’s degree in business, education, healthcare, or STEM-related fields can increase income from 14 to 89 percent. Therefore, the more you invest in your education, the more valuable you are to your employer and the more marketable you are to recruiters if you decide to change jobs. And if there’s a way to reignite your remote career spark, more recognition, pay, and career advancement just might catapult you out of your current funk.
6. Focus on the Journey
No matter what you do for a living, some aspects of work are just plain dull and burdensome. However, if you measure your job based on all the things you don’t like doing, you miss the big picture.
Think about your overall career path, not just the job itself. What does your job afford you? Perhaps you’re able to provide for your family, take yearly trips to Europe or South America, or save for a down payment on a home.
Sometimes, professionals choose careers not because they are passionate about the work, but because they can master the job and effectively use it to support and fulfill other aspects of their lives.
7. Get a Hobby, Engage Your Body, or Boost Your Brain Power
Though turning your passions into a career seems like a no-brainer, it’s much more difficult than you might anticipate. Instead of crafting an ideal career path that fully expresses your soul, consider using your job to build capital to support your passions and hobbies. For example, you can start a small business on the side, fund a nonprofit, create art to sell online, or write screenplays and shoot short films. It’s possible that you need something else beyond work to keep your excitement and energy levels up and give your career a whole new purpose.
If your favorite hobbies aren’t necessarily guaranteed to make you money or you don’t want to take the fun out of your hobby by turning it into a job, separate them. There’s no sense in ruining something you love, especially if it’s the one outlet that lets you escape and unwind. However, if you decide to turn your passion into a side gig, make sure to either engage your body or boost your brainpower. Attend classes, do expert-level sudoku, start lifting weights, or train for a 5K. Each of these activities is sure to create a significant break between work and personal life while also boosting your physical and mental states. The result might involve the remote career spark you’ve been searching for.
8. Take a Break
When is the last time you truly took a vacation? Sometimes, the only way to recover from burnout is to take a break. Even people who love their jobs need time to relax and reset. If planning a trip sounds more like work than fun, then take a long weekend at home to binge-watch shows or tackle that growing stack of books on your nightstand. When your fingers start twitching from inactivity, do something creative or physically challenging.
No matter how you choose to kick back, turn off all email notifications and shut off the computer. Allow yourself to disconnect from the office and give your complete attention to other areas of your life. Hopefully, a little time away will rejuvenate your spirits and provide clarity.
9. Improve the Way You Work
It’s not just your boss or the workload that determines your level of happiness. The way in which you work also influences your overall job satisfaction. Find ways to be more efficient, produce better quality work, and automate mindless tasks. Attempt to improve virtual relationships with co-workers by engaging more in online conversation or attending virtual happy hours. Compliment someone on a job well done or offer encouragement to someone having a rough day. Boosting other people’s morale often increases your own.
For remote workers, your home office is also a focal point of how you feel about the job. Therefore, you shouldn’t have a cluttered mess of an office. Instead, a relaxing home office design that’s streamlined, organized, and inviting is just what you need. With a fresh take on your home office, you might be surprised how much better you feel about your job and how your remote career spark might just get the added boost that it needs.
10. Put Your Work to Bed
Make sure you actually clock out at the end of each day. Despite the marvels of cloud computing and the ease of communication, you need to create clear boundaries to prevent working nonstop. Telecommuters especially need boundaries, since work and home share the same space.
Remember that working from home doesn’t mean you’re available round the clock. It helps to create a regime so that you dedicate time to both work and personal life.
11. Practice Safe Stress
Little bits of stress can help keep your engine fueled throughout the day, but too much clogs your pipes and shuts down your brain. Based on numerous research studies on workplace stress, The American Institute of Stress found that the leading causes of job stress include:
- Issues with people
- Work-life balance
- Job security
To prevent workplace stressors from influencing your job satisfaction and health, practice stress management techniques like meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or exercising. If you telecommute, make a point to leave the house every day for a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood. Drink plenty of water, get adequate sleep, and actively manage the thoughts inside your head. Flush out negative self-talk and replace self-destructive thoughts with positive statements.
Your health is the cornerstone of your life. When you take good care of your body and mind, you naturally feel refreshed, energized, and confident.
12. Play or Pivot
If your daily job tasks are somewhat lackluster, find ways to make them more fun. Play your favorite music and challenge yourself to get as much work done as possible during each song. Shoot for fewer errors or higher efficiency. Give yourself a prize when you accomplish your goal.
However, if little games and other tactics prove ineffective, consider how you can use your skills to pivot in your career. For example, if your work is primarily focused on data entry, consider pivoting to medical coding. If you’re up to your ears with sales or customer service, consider teaching online classes to share your hard-earned knowledge with aspiring business developers.
Pivoting doesn’t necessarily mean you have start over or make a dramatic shift. It can simply mean that you find other ways to leverage your experience so that you learn new skills and enhance your overall career.
Keep the Remote Career Spark Burning Hot
The key takeaway is to think things through before jumping ship. Reflect on the good old days and what initially drew you to your line of work. Consider the bigger picture and how your work contributes to the whole, such as making other people’s lives easier and affording you a comfortable lifestyle. It’s quite possible that you still enjoy your career, but there are aspects of your daily job that you need to improve. Once you identify the areas you can control, take action and attempt to resolve the discrepancies.
If you’re still down in the dumps and nothing seems to work, by all means, try something new. Maybe you need a change of scenery or a new challenge. Check out the Virtual Vocations Job Database for ideas on where to pivot. Who knows? Maybe after searching for a new career, you’ll realize you already have the job of your dreams.
Do you have any firsthand experience reigniting your remote career spark? How did you overcome burnout and adversity while maintaining a strong work ethic? Connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube to share your thoughts. We’d love to hear from you!
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