Burning Out Could Actually Be The Best Thing For Your Career — Here's Why

© sakkmesterke / Adobe Stock

woman burned out at work

© sakkmesterke / Adobe Stock

Elana Konstant
Elana Konstant12
Career Coach for professionals in transition
June 19, 2024 at 10:27PM UTC
Many of my clients come to me at their worst. They’ve often hit a breaking point in their career, whether it’s due to a micromanaging boss, a stalled trajectory, or the unbearableness of bearing it all.  While it may seem counterintuitive, hitting rock bottom can be the best possible thing for your career. After all, there is nowhere to go but up.
Once you’ve burnt out, that’s when you finally recognize that change is necessary. Thankfully, there is no longer any need to stay in bad situations past their pull date. A recent study by the Department of Labor found that people held an average of almost twelve jobs in their lifetimes between 18-48. And that’s for the baby boomer generation. Millenials tend to leave their jobs every three years on average. 
No more waiting around for your workload to lighten or your value to suddenly be recognized. Now is the time to either find a new job or make the one you have work for you. Whatever the reason for your burnout, you shouldn’t spend a third of your waking hours feeling disengaged or, worse, enraged. Here are four ways that burning out at work can be a blessing in disguise.
By Forcing You To Listen To Your Body
A negative job situation can become truly destructive once it starts impacting your health and your emotional state. Are you struggling to fall asleep at night? Do you feel a pounding headache the minute you walk into work? These symptoms can be your body’s way of warning you of a breakdown. Feeling unhappy and frustrated, especially for so many hours a day, can be hazardous over time. Implementing mindfulness techniques, such as a meditation practice, prioritizing good sleep, and establishing clear boundaries around your work can all help guide you back to equilibrium while you consider whether this role is the right one for you.
By Making Space For You To Consider What You Want
Ideally, every quarter or so you should perform a self-assessment to evaluate if you are getting and giving all you that can in your job. Unfortunately, most of us wait until things go south before taking the time to make these evaluations. Once the wall is hit, then you can begin in earnest to consider what you need in terms of room for advancement, edifying projects, or the flexibility to meet personal demands. Pay special attention if the one job that sounds even less appealing than yours is the one held by your boss.
By Encouraging You To Find Your Career And Not Just Another Job
Working simply to fund the rest of your life is not necessarily a bad thing. There are many points in life when it makes sense to lean out and coast from paycheck to paycheck. The real conflict comes once you want to be growing professionally and you’re not. Do some reflection and think about where you want to be in five years, in ten, in twenty. Write your answers down to determine if your current role is a good foundation for that path. If not, then it’s probably time to take action to find the right next step. 
By Creating New Policies And Programs In Your Workplace
Should you determine that this role and this company are worth your efforts, focus on how you can improve the situation for you and your colleagues. Chances are, if you feel exhausted by your work and a lack of motivation, then others do as well. Numerous studies have shown that there is a point of diminishing returns when it comes to overworked professionals. Enlist the help of management to create programs to promote employee engagement. Think about what is necessary to prevent future burnout and to thrive, through increased communication and feedback, realistic expectations, socialization among cohorts, routine assessments of skillsets and job matching, and some good, old-fashioned, time off.
Elana Konstant is a career coach and consultant focusing on professional women in career transition. A former lawyer, she founded Konstant Change Coaching to empower women to create the career they want. Change is good. Elana will help you find out why. Her career advice has been featured on Glamour.com, Babble, Motherly, and other outlets. You can learn more by visiting her website, konstantchangecoaching.com.

Why women love us:

  • Daily articles on career topics
  • Jobs at companies dedicated to hiring more women
  • Advice and support from an authentic community
  • Events that help you level up in your career
  • Free membership, always