Millennials, contrary to some bad press, are actually kicking butt and taking names. They’re running marathons, shooting to the top of start-ups, and buying homes before the age of 30.
But they’re also burning out at alarming rates. Working intensely long hours throughout one’s 20s can have a cumulative effect: exhaustion. This is partly due to unrealistic expectations, comparing yourself unfairly to other peers who are doing “better,” or not being able to disconnect or achieve the elusive work/life balance. Or it could be just not having a job you love.
Here are some strategies for how to avoid or alleviate millennial burnout and keep yourself on the path to great success.
Millennials might not be as lazy or as entitled as the internet claims they are, but they are more accustomed to instant gratification. Do yourself a favor and don’t expect to catapult to the top right away. Promotions don’t come easy—or necessarily at rapid speed. Don’t let the fact that you aren’t moving up immediately make you feel under-appreciated or unsatisfied. Take a look around at people you admire and find out how long it took them to get where they are. Then give yourself the appropriate time to reach your loftiest goals.
Millennials tend to be utterly glued to their devices. And some jobs expect you to be “on” at all times. Find a way to set limits on your time, turn off notifications, or set yourself a few phoneless hours per day.
Perhaps the quickest way to burn out is to say yes to every request that’s made of you. You don’t have to agree to absolutely every favor asked in order to make it to where you want to be. Set yourself some boundaries. Say yes only when you have the time to do something well—and without resentment.
In a culture that prizes multitasking skills, learn how to monotask. You’ll be surprised at how much your productivity increases when you slow down and focus on one thing at a time.
As much as you want to be in control to make sure things are done right, you can’t possibly handle every detail of every project. Learn what others can do and learn to delegate those tasks to them. That way you can concentrate on the really challenging tasks you know you need to oversee. You could even find a buddy to split meeting attendance with—you go to one, they go to the other, and you compare notes, saving yourselves the extra time.
A little humility goes a long way. Finding a mentor or trusted superior with whom you can confide before you hit the full-on burn-out stage is crucial. Be honest about where you’re at and open to figuring out what changes you could make to fix it.
So you have to take a business trip, or run an errand. Try to find a way to make it more enjoyable around the edges. Ask for a day or two on either end of the trip to recuperate or sight see, say. And use your vacation days. When you get back to the desk, focus on what you really love about your job—and concentrate on those tasks for a week or so.
Giving back is a great way to remind ourselves how great we have it. Try to help out or have coffee with someone trying to break into your field. You’ll be surprised at the warm fuzzies it could give you to give advice.
Find means of recharging daily—set aside at least 5 to 10 minutes to do something that truly calms and satisfies you. It’s also extremely helpful to have a creative outlet outside the workplace that has nothing to do with your job.
Don’t set yourself up for failure. Keep those high expectations in check by limiting your to-do list to the realm of reasonable possibility. Figure out the ways in which your expectations are getting the better of you, and trim back a bit. If you give yourself the room to succeed, you will.