A recent survey by Indeed discovered that 52% of American workers have experienced burnout because of their job over the last year. Keep in mind that we’ve been dealing with a pandemic, job changes, different schedules, and everything in between. 

But work burnout is very real and can be caused by a variety of different factors. 

Whether you’re trying to get through a pandemic or not, one of the biggest causes of burnout is taking on too much. When you work to the point of stressing yourself out, it’s hard to come out of that hole. 

Far too often, people make excuses for overworking themselves. If you’re an ambitious person, you might use that as an excuse. Or, you might be extremely competitive and want to be at the top of the totem pole at your job. 

But are those traits doing more harm than good? 

What’s the Difference Between Competition and Ambition? 

Ambition is an underlying desire to be successful in whatever you do. Competition is similar, but your desire isn’t so much about your own personal success. Rather, it’s a desire to be more successful than others. 

Both characteristics can be great motivators, especially in a workplace setting. 

But, if you let them take over your mindset, they can drive you to do too much and contribute to burnout. 

If you’re an ambitious person, you might also be somewhat of a perfectionist. That means you probably spend longer on projects than the average person, and you might find yourself starting over or “redoing” things more often than not. You probably also have a hard time saying “no” to new projects, because you feel you can tackle anything. 

As a competitive person, you might end up doing the same things for different reasons. If you redo projects or take on more work, it’s so you can get ahead of your co-workers or end up with a better final result. 

Looking at those traits on paper, you can probably already see how both can contribute to extra stress and burnout. 

How to Avoid Burnout at Work

So, if you consider yourself naturally ambitious or competitive, what can you do? 

First, learn to say no. 

That can be difficult for a person that likes to tackle a lot of projects. But you have to know your limits. If you say “yes” to every project, people are going to assume you can take on whatever they give you. Before you know it, you’ll have more to handle than you can chew. As a result, the quality of your work will start to suffer. Not only will you fall behind, but you won’t be able to satisfy your ambitions or sense of perfectionism, anyway. 

Second, do what you can to achieve a better work-life balance. More employers are emphasizing the importance of this. But, you have to take charge of it in your own life, too. Don’t take work home with you and don’t obsess over it when you’re not in the office. 

When you’re home, practice self-care as much as possible. Spend time with friends and family, and do things solely for your own well-being. 

It’s okay to be an ambitious or competitive person. You can use those to your advantage in the workplace. But, if you burn out from working too much, you won’t be able to achieve your goals, anyway.

Pay attention to how much work you’re taking on, and ask yourself if you’re reaching your limit, or reaching your potential. By hitting “pause” and taking a step back, you might just see how close you are to that “burnout” phase. 

If you’re worried your ambitions or competitive nature are contributing to feelings of burnout, please contact me. Together, we’ll work on strategies to help you avoid burnout and take better care of yourself as you establish a stronger work-life balance. 

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