by Katherine Lee, LCSW
“Should I change jobs? Is it time to resign and move on in my career?” These are questions I hear a lot in my practice. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in New York City, I work with many successful clients who have high standards for themselves in the professional arena. Work plays a major part in how we feel about ourselves, and in how we view our day to day lives. So what do we do when we begin to feel burned out at work? Is this enough to tell us that we need to stop what we’re currently doing, and look for a new job?
According to a fairly recent article, http://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2013/10/10/five-really-good-reasons-to-quit-your-job/, a good reason to quit a job is if you are mentally checked out. In certain circumstances I disagree. Burn out or feeling bored at work may have more to do with the way we tend to handle things, rather than the actual work itself. If overall you are content with your job, but find yourself constantly taking coffee breaks, browsing online for fun, or stalling assignments—I usually ask what it is that you are trying to avoid. As successful and professional New Yorkers, we often feel enormous pressure–not only to perform well for our employers or against stiff competition, but also to meet our own rigid standards. If we feel that we “should” be doing things better, or that a project may not be up to snuff, anxiety and self-criticism can build to the point of giving into procrastination. While the act of putting off work serves its purpose, (A Starbucks break next door sounds great at a time when you’re feeling under the gun), you may find that, when done habitually, it makes you feel worse about yourself overtime. Not only that, chronic procrastination in response to anxious or pressured thinking, when left unchecked, will likely follow you to the next job. Addressing anxiety or frustration that comes up before giving into the urge to avoid work may help you to shift your thinking, and feel more comfortable with assignments.
Are there legitimate reasons why one might feel checked out at a job? Absolutely! Maybe you’ve hit a learning curve or aren’t feeling challenged enough. Company cutbacks or restructuring are also common in making employees feel disgruntled and weary. Finding a different position that fits more of what you are passionate about is also a great reason to think about making a move. And sometimes one can feel drained or bored at work without really knowing why. If any of these issues sound familiar to you, you’re not alone. Working with a therapist can help you to figure out barriers to fulfillment on the job, and how to overcome them.