Dream Job Blog

Set good boundaries and prevent burnout

A stressed man at a laptop, epitomizing the boundary setting to prevent burnout

I am an actively recovering workaholic. I’ve come a long way, but I’m still a work in progress. It’s difficult for me to look back and see the unhealthy cycle I created without judgment. I worked evenings and weekends to ensure that I answered every email, completed tasks, improved processes and created new programs.

And in my true high achiever fashion, I kept upping my productivity game. I was “proving” myself (to whom I’m still unsure) and unintentionally raising the bar for my team and peers (insert cringe face emoji here)

We live in a truly amazing country — founded by grit, determination and hope. The American Dream is based on the premise that the harder you work, the more successful you’ll be. It’s no wonder that we respect people who work hard and hustle. 

In that way, the cards are stacked against us. But here’s the good news — the tide is changing. The Millennials and Gen Z’ers are challenging the status quo. They’re setting a different tone for work-life balance — something that feels more like work-life harmony. 

They’re bringing their authentic self to work versus having a separate persona for work. They’re prioritizing self-care and their personal life. And they work hard and make a big impact. They’re role modeling a healthier way to live.

Of course, this is not exclusive to younger generations. I’ve worked with many colleagues who had figured out how to live balanced lives — getting a lot of work done and enjoying a robust and seemingly carefree life.

So how do you know if you are burnt out? Here are some of the telltale signs to watch out for: 

  • You’re easily irritated or impatient with colleagues
  • You don’t get excited about the kind of work/projects you typically love to do
  • You feel detached from your work, colleagues and/or the company
  • You’re cynical and/or overly critical at work
  • You’re overwhelmed, lack energy and feel ineffective (feel you’re burning the candle at both ends more often than not)

Reaching a point of burnout usually tells us that we’re not at the right place, we haven’t set good boundaries or both. 

Boundaries are as simple as defining what’s okay or not okay for us. When we don’t set good boundaries, we tolerate a lot of nonsense and eventually become resentful and angry. 

Give yourself time and space to thoughtfully answer these questions (without judgment — come from a place of curiosity): 

  • Is burnout a part of the culture? Are most of my colleagues constantly stressed out? Is everyone working more than 40 hours a week?
  • What does work-life balance (or harmony) look like? 
  • What boundaries have I set that are helpful?
  • What boundaries have I set that aren’t contributing to good work-life balance?
  • What new boundaries can I set? It can be simple things like not responding to emails/messages immediately and harder things like not looking at email from 6pm – 8am
  • Who do I know who exhibits good work-life balance? 

I am not a proponent of leaving a job proactively before having another lined up unless you’re in a toxic environment and/or it’s affecting your mental health. That said, it is challenging to reset boundaries and expectations after having established yourself at work, especially if you’ve been there a long time.

It’s still worthwhile to have an open dialogue with your manager and team about changes you’d like to make and invite them to do the same. 

When you start a new job, you have the unique opportunity to establish new boundaries from the get go that will feel uncomfortable in the short-term, but have long-lasting benefits. Give yourself the time and space to determine what a healthy work-life balance looks like and what boundaries you want to set.

By doing this, you’ll be able to truly thrive at work and become invigorated and inspired to do your very best work.

Here are some resources that may help you along the way: 

Boundaries – Brené Brown

Good boundaries free you – Sarri Gilman

Beating burnout – Thrive Global 

Are you ready to uplevel your career? And land a job where you’ll feel fulfilled, realize your potential and get the compensation you deserve?

If so, then watch our video and book a session with one of our job strategists. We’re excited to talk about your career goals!

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