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I think I have a burnout. Since I joined my current company I've been on the same project. It's a typical situation of "you have no power to decide anything, but you're responsible if the project fails". I've worked very long hours, not learning much in the process - I'm senior enough to normally have a decision-making power, which I don't have in my current role despite what had been aligned on.

The problems the project is facing are clear, but my suggestions how to make things better have been disregarded and I've been criticized for even bringing up suggestions. I've still been blamed for things above my control (e.g. if you make people work 12+ h for months without paying them extra they will start leaving...). No praises, no salary increase, just "we don't have anybody to replace you with" when I requested a project change 6 months ago.

Now I find it difficult to care about anything anymore. I don't care if things are done - my tasks or the team's tasks (I'm officially their manager, in practice I have never been that). I don't care about my performance review - my boss made it clear he doesn't care about my well-being so why bother? I'm trying to work when people are watching, but find it virtually impossible to work otherwise. I'm lying in my bed in the morning thinking that the only thing I don't want to do is opening my laptop (thanks god I do home office).

It's not even clear what my current responsibility are, although I've asked my bosses about that many times.

Any ideas how I can make it better? I would still like to stay at the company for the next 6 months.

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    "I would still like to stay at the company for the next 6 months." Why? You don't actually have to answer that if there are personal reasons, but at the moment this seems a terrible place to be professionally. May 19, 2022 at 16:20
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    @PhilipKendall, it's a well-known company, my title is attractive (although in practice I'm not learning anything unless in my free time) and I don't want to be faced with recruiters' questions: why did you leave just after 1 year? May 19, 2022 at 16:22
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    @user523u8914 "I left after one year because my personal goals for professional growth were not being addressed by the company, and staying there was burning me out. I felt it better to being a job search while unemployed than to risk burning myself out for future employers" Your mental health comes first, don't burn out over a company that doesn't care for you.
    – GOATNine
    May 19, 2022 at 16:26
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    You didn't leave 'just after 1 year' though. You would have left 6 months (!) after addressing a serious problem. As long as you make it clear management wasn't interested in working together with you for the business I don't see how staying longer would help, unless you desperately need stints that are more than a year on your CV. The recruiter is gonna ask a similar question either way, and your answer probably won't change for the better after 6 more months of burnout.
    – Tony
    May 19, 2022 at 16:29
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    Can you afford to quit? May 19, 2022 at 16:37

2 Answers 2

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You can only burn out if you put in more effort than what you would put in to work comfortably, with reasonable amount of detachment from the quality of your work so as to sleep, eat, and live well.

The solution is in the question:

  • Put in less effort and train yourself to worry less about the outcomes.
  • Do what you can in a normal work day, whatever is not done will be finished when you get to it.
  • Put in reasonable quality but understand that the final product depends on other factors and therefore stop stressing.
  • Focus on the positives in the work -- your paycheck? Job title? Job security? At least until you decide to leave...
  • Don't worry what others think - you'll leave anyway (and will not list your current manager as a reference).

To summarize, create and adapt to your 'new normal' work routine and work ethic. Understand and find comfort in the idea that this is temporary, and was a forced choice.

The transition won't occur overnight, like any change of habit it will take time and self-awareness. Be intentional and consistent about it. Don't steer off course. You picked this mode of behavior for a reason that makes sense to you, so don't let you talk yourself out of it (you will try, at least initially). Hope this helps. Good Luck!

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As a hiring manager, I can often tell when someone is burned out the way you describe - and it makes me question a lot of things:

  1. Why did the candidate stay in a role they so clearly hated?
  2. Will they still be burned out if they come work for me? (The answer, by the way, is almost always yes because burnout takes a lot longer to recover from than most people allow themselves between jobs.)
  3. Since they're likely to start working for me while burned out, how much productivity can I truly expect from them?
  4. How long will they manage to work for me before the leftover burnout gets too unbearable, and they quit? (Probably not very long, based on experience.)

If you're only staying in this role because you're afraid of potentially awkward questions during future interviews, then you have two options:

Stay but prioritize your well-being

This option is difficult. Speaking from my own experience, you're unlikely to recover from burnout as long as you remain in the situation that burned you, and highly likely to get more burned out. If you choose this, @A.S.'s answer has some good suggestions for things you can do to make it fractionally less miserable.

I would also recommend using every minute of PTO you have. From your description, it doesn't sound like you have meaningful work to do - but even if you did, your health is more important. So take off as much time as you can for the remainder of your stay at this company. This will at least moderate the effects of the burnout by removing you from the situation as much as possible - and it's not like you have a reason to save that PTO anyway.

Another possibility would be to investigate whether your company offers leaves of absence; or if there's no official policy, whether your manager might be willing to arrange one. It might feel a little awkward going on leave for a couple of months, then quitting for a new job shortly after your return, but again: you need to do what's best for your own mental health as long as you plan to stay at this company. You might be burning a bridge, but given how you describe this place, that's not a big loss.

Finally, keep in mind that getting a new job usually takes time, even in a candidate's market. Assume it'll be at least two to three months between when you start looking, and your first day at your new job, counting both the job search itself plus as much downtime as you can afford in between jobs. So if you do intend to stay at this company for one year, start looking for your next job at your ten-month mark.

Leave now and get yourself into a better place ASAP

Having a single short stint on your resume isn't going to hurt you in the long run, unless it's your first job. All the issues you list in your question are extremely valid reasons to quit a job regardless of how long you stayed there, and unless you have a pattern of job-hopping every six months, most hiring managers won't be concerned by a six-month stay at such a miserable place.

If you can afford it, give yourself at least two or three months off before diving back into the job market. Again, hiring managers can often spot burnout in candidates, so you want to make sure you're rested and recovered before diving back in.

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    This is a good answer. I have had a bad job where I got very burned out. When I left I used my unused holiday leave pay-out to not work for around 3 months. TBH that still probably wasn't enough, but I needed income again. While I'm way better now, I still suffer from what seems to be a mild form of chronic fatigue, and RSI that comes back intermittently if I'm not careful (more than 5 years later). Obviously I've now learned my lesson about letting it get to that point and now push back on any unrealistic expectations. I don't regret leaving that job, but I regret not leaving earlier.
    – rooby
    May 20, 2022 at 3:40
  • @rooby Thanks for the comment Im dealing with this lately and it is difficult. I have been putting off leaving my current workplace but you inspire me to start looking.
    – JonH
    May 22, 2022 at 18:37

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