Let’s face it, everyone experiences burnout at work. Even if you love your job deeply and passionately, there are days when you might think, “I’m over it.”

That’s understandable, and something to be completely expected. However, what happens when you are burnt out as the result of competition or ambition? Are both occurring at the same time? Also, is competition vs. ambition even a good thing?

It all depends.

Yet, if you are struggling at work because of these qualities, that could be a warning sign. Here’s how to tell if you are feeling burnout from competition or ambition, and what to do about it.

How Competition Leads to Burnout

In some respects, competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, competition helps to foster innovation and think creatively. But at the same time competition, if it becomes cutthroat, leads to burnout.

It’s one thing to have a friendly competition with other coworkers over a set goal for the team. Yet it’s completely different if you always feel you have to be #1 in your team or division. This can lead to stress and even anxiety.

Also, there’s an issue if you are competing against yourself. You’re always trying to beat your record or numbers. This too can lead to stress and burnout at work.

Burnout and Ambition

Ambition is also another trait that, on the surface, isn’t always a negative attribute. After all, it’s important and healthy to set goals. Identifying and setting a goal, as well as the journey you take towards achieving that goal, is very useful for developing yourself professionally. If you don’t, then you grow stagnant and your skills go stale.

However, ambition can get out of control if you are always striving for the next big thing, and never take time to enjoy your success. Additionally, if your goal is not realistic, it might not be attainable. Thus, there is a mismatch between your goal and your ambition.

Trying to Beat the Rat Race

When competition and ambition run amok the result is that you feel you are constantly in a rat race, fighting for the next big win. But that’s also really exhausting too! There isn’t much energy left over to take care of yourself, or to pursue things you enjoy outside of work.

The result is that you get stuck in a grind that over time wears you down.

Finding a Balance Between Competition, Ambition, and Work

Ideally, you find a balance between competition and ambition as they relate to your work. For instance, all the teams in your group agree to a healthy competition to achieve a certain benchmark number. However, the competition stays friendly and cordial.

At the end of the competition period, you all move on to the next objective or task. You don’t let resentments linger. With ambition, you set a goal for yourself and identify action steps to meet that goal. Yet, you keep it within strict criteria and not let yourself get carried out of the way with trying to make vice-president overnight.

When You Still Experience Burnout

If you’re finding it difficult to balance these factors, then it’s time to ask for help. In therapy, you can examine your relationship between competition and ambition, as well as how they relate to your work. You will also be able to let go of the toxic aspects of these issues and hold on to the positive attributes of competition and ambition. Also, this is an excellent opportunity to reexamine your career and whether this role is the right fit for you.

Competition and ambition have both positive and negative qualities. But if they are causing you to experience burnout at work, they need to be addressed. Find out today how job and work support counseling can help.