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Enough is Enough

January 31, 2011
by Tim Tolan
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Sound Advice for Combating Burnout and Regaining Enthusiasm and Excitement for Your Job
Tim Tolan
Tim Tolan

We've all been there: it's that gut feeling you get every morning as you prepare to take on the day. You try to ignore it-pretend it's not an issue-but it just won't go away. It changes the way you feel and eats away at you, day after day. Even family and friends notice the change in your behavior; you wear it on your sleeve like a neon sign…burnout. I talk to candidates all the time who feel like it's time to move on and find a new job because of burnout. It's a real problem.

The signs are everywhere: if you've been feeling a little blue and can't quite put your finger on the source, you may be suffering from burnout and sooner or later you're going to have to deal with the situation. Have you lost the enthusiasm and excitement you once had for your job? Unless you bury your head in the sand and do nothing about it, things can change! Take action to change the way you feel-this should be a journey to really find out what's eating you. Admission is the first step to recovery. I strongly recommend you stop sweeping this problem under the rug and invest whatever time it takes to deal with the issue.


Let's look at a few possibilities that make getting out of bed each morning so difficult:

Overworked-Many healthcare IT executives have been pushed to the limit (forced to wear too many hats) during the economic downturn. Try delegating more of the workload to your team. It will give them a new challenge and demonstrate your confidence in their ability to take on additional responsibilities (and to help them grow in their careers). If your staff has limited resources, make sure you think twice before agreeing to take on more work than you know you can deliver. Set healthy boundaries by gauging the size and scope of your workload, and don't add to the problem by taking on more than you can handle. That will only make things worse.

No Downtime-This can be a real killer (literally). Make sure you force yourself to take time off to do absolutely nothing. Just drop ALL responsibilities for seven to 10 days. That means no cell phone, no smart phone, no e-mail and no laptop; simply you and the people you care about hanging out and relaxing. You don't need to spend a fortune, but you do need to shut down and give yourself a break. You will live longer! Take time off on a regular habit. No exceptions.

Bad Boss-This one is really hard to deal with. If your boss is “toxic” to you and to others, or if you know you and your boss just can't seem to get along-get out! Develop a plan to find a new home and don't share your intentions with anyone. This is not the right market to just walk away from a good-paying job. Find a way to tough it out until you have an offer in-hand, then leave. Life is too short to work for people that create stress in your life. Move on! The sooner the better.

Not Challenged-This is easier to deal with compared to the others on this list, but you still need to take action. If you are seeking more responsibility and want to find your enthusiasm again, make a list of the objectives and add specific goals on how to get there. What's your life's passion? What do you like most about your job/career? What do you like least? It may be time to hone your skills and take a class online to scale your career to the next level. Talk to your CEO and step outside of your comfort zone, and take on a project that will really challenge you. Don't think about the risk of failure, instead focus on the challenge of accomplishing something you've never done before.

Dealing with burnout is healthy and positive and vital to your personal and professional well-being. Let's face it: you work 2,000 hours (or more) each year-that's a lot of time. In this new year, make every day your Super Bowl. Enough is enough-be happy!

Tim Tolan is a senior partner at Sanford Rose Associates Healthcare IT Practice. He can be reached at tjtolan@sanfordrose.com or at (843) 579-3077 ext. 301. His blog can be found at www.healthcare-informatics.com/tim_tolan. Healthcare Informatics 2011 February;28(2):80

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