Avoiding burnout is a concern for nearly any profession. When it comes to burnout, though, people often think of stress from the job. Or, they don’t have the same passion about what they are doing that they used to.

However, what if the source of burnout comes from an imbalance of competition and ambition?

If your attitude at work is to always be competing against your coworkers in the race to the top, you’re going to get burned out. An excellent way to end this cycle is finding a balance that directs those energies to something positive. When that happens, you have something magical: a career!

Here’s how to avoid burnout and find satisfaction in your work.

The Benefits and Perils of Competition

It helps to keep in mind that competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For example, if you are at the gym in a group class, everyone might compete against one another to have the best results for a workout. Competition can challenge people to be their best selves and try harder to accomplish goals.

The same could be true at work. If you are all on the same sales team, there might be competition as to who can bring in the most sales during a particular time frame. Competition could also help bring everyone together and feel united in a common purpose.

However, the problem arises when you don’t see your colleagues as collaborators, but as the enemy. When you perceive others to be a threat, you will want to overcome those threats. That isn’t sustainable, and will eventually lead to burnout.

When Ambition Goes Too Far

Another issue that can work as a double-edged sword is ambition. Of course, you want to strive to be your best and find success. It’s that inner drive that gets you up early in the morning so you can be at work on time, ready to go.

Yet, what happens when ambition overtakes other attributes necessary for work, such as collaboration, mentoring, and sustainability? You wind up walking all over your coworkers. Or worse, using them to achieve your goals.

Again, this doesn’t work long-term. Avoiding burnout is nearly impossible when you’re so focused on satisfying your inner-driver.

Competition and Ambition Combined

When competition and ambition meld together, it makes for a dangerous combination. You’ve most likely seen it manifest at work at least once or twice in your career. It plays out when that one employee who is not only a jerk but only cares about their self-interest.

You can’t be friends with this type of person typically. That’s because you know they will only use you for own advantage. Even if you don’t have this competition-ambition combination, you can quickly wind up getting burned out anyway from having to be near someone who does.

Using Competition and Ambition the Right Way

Taking a step back, however, it is useful to know that competition and ambition can be helpful when used in the right way.

For example, using the sales example from above, what if at the end of the quarter everyone celebrated the accomplishments of the person who brought in the most sales? Or, you can be ambitious by setting new goals, and yet, you remember to mentor the new generation of workers simultaneously.

When your ambition is to help the team be successful, everyone wines. The same is true for wanting to be your best and achieve high marks while also supporting others’ success, as well. That is what it means to have a career and to leave a legacy at your organization.

Both competition and ambition will drive anyone toward burnout. However, they also can be motivators for a rewarding career when used correctly.

If you are struggling with avoiding burnout, consider how competition and ambition play a role—both positively and negatively. If you’re interested in changing the dynamics of your career, please reach out to me today or visit my page on job and work support in NYC to learn more.