Beating the “Burn Out”

Yes, I’ve been absent for quite  some time.

Hopefully (and I know I’ve said this before, and am starting to sound like a total non-committal person), this is about to change, and here’s why. Writing in this blog is part of my “beating the burn out” plan.

Non-profit workers face a myriad of challenges, and you certainly didn’t come here to hear me spout off the abysmal facts you already know: it’s a constant struggle to gain a salary that even attempts to compete with your for-profit peers, to gain access or support for professional development, to dig yourself out from under that never-ending to-do list… I could ramble on, but you get the drift. Non-profit workers burn out. Studies tell us this, and it’s been an issue when we think about the next generation of non-profit leadership and how we can retain the current young non-profit workers and get them to stick around long enough to become executive directors, associate directors, etc.

My annual review was in July, and not soon after that, although I felt a surge of enthusiasm and a resurgence in purpose for what I do, it wasn’t long after that I was feeling the flames of that non-profit burn out. What started off as a “feeling disempowered” day was turning into a week, and then two weeks, and then…well,  you get my drift.  It’s that nagging feeling that you’ll never get anything of substantial value accomplished, or in my instance, that when I do finally convince my management to jump on the bandwagon, it’s going to be too little, too late, or I’m going to get fed up with all these tiny gains before then and leave the sector entirely.

So what does one do? That’s where my “beating the burn out” plan/strategy came in for me, and I thought I’d share with you my thoughts, which are drawn from some ideas my peers have had, my own intuition about what I need, and some good old fashioned advice from my Mama. 🙂

  • Make short-term & long-term goals and hang them up somewhere in your office where you see them every day. I manage what somedays feels like a thousand different aspects of communications & outreach at my job, and when I parcel out three or six months into goals in each area, it makes me feel better and not so overwhelmed by the tasks in front of me.
  • Call up your favorite networking/professional contact and have coffee. Talk about anything. I can’t begin to tell you how these conversations keep me going. I always leave feeling enthusiastic or at least hopeful about my own work.
  • Get involved in something outside of work that is completely different than your job. I started coaching youth cheerleading this fall, and in addition to being incredibly rewarding in it’s own right, it has helped me appreciate what I do from 9-5.
  • Develop yourself. I’m not talking go out and sign up for some more professional networking events or a fundraising. I’m talking about doing things for YOU, personally. If you’re into jogging, join a running group. If you’re into art, take an art class. For me, it’s a combo of writing in this blog, and taking a yoga class on Thursdays. Once you get these things going, it’s like a little oasis of accomplishment that can fuel you in your professional life.

How do you beat the “burn out”?

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