A Solution To Burnout: Why You Should Take A Pause And Embrace The Phase

Jean Freeman

Principal + CEO

There are ups and downs, rewinds, fast-forwards and pauses. And yet, we are taught that success is all about a straight path, dead ahead.

No wonder young people fresh out of college, embarking on their careers, get frustrated. They worry when their trajectory is not smooth. They worry about gaps, and breaks and pauses.

There’s plenty of literature about the benefits of taking a career pause. In her book Pause, Rachel O’Meara recommends stepping back for professionals who have hit a wall. In The Pause Principle: Step Back to Lead Forward, Kevin Cashman argues that as people are faced with the complexities of a highly globalized and digitized world, we really need to stop and smell the roses or else risk total burnout. Lisen Stromberg’s Work Pause Thrive recommends taking a break to be a parent (which is another, later discussion).

I would argue that a subset of hitting pause, one that is equally potent in building a meaningful life and career, is embracing phases. In other words, moving in different directions. Let’s face it, constant is not natural. Smooth is not real. Take electricity: It’s transmitted through a system in which alternating currents take turns cycling up and down. When one phase is down, the other is up — thus we have power. Embracing phases in life and work can also create power.

 

 

A recent poll by the nonprofit Families and Work Institute found that 70% of U.S. employees “often dream of having a different job” and more than half “feel overworked or overwhelmed at least some of the time” in their current careers.

Lots of people take a pause to smell the roses, others know what they want and don’t actually stop, but dive into something completely different. Embracing phases is about going down different paths, making decisions that often steer you into the unknown. Embracing phases is a gift you can give yourself, exposing yourself to alternate experiences, always keeping yourself open to new options.

A fine example, believe it or not, is Colonel Sanders. According to a classic profile in The New Yorker, the Colonel shuffled between the life of a farmer, streetcar conductor, soldier, railroad fireman, lawyer, insurance salesman, steamboat operator, secretary, lighting manufacturer and a number of other jobs, including hotel owner and restaurateur before, finally, at the age of 66, getting into the fried chicken franchise business.

Today, the “complexities of a highly globalized and digitized world” clearly are contributing to the escalation of lives and careers driven by phases, most often in the form of freelance work. Futurist Faith Popcorn’s well-known presentation called The Future of Work claims that 33% of Americans are currently freelancers and predicts that by 2020 that figure will rise to 50%. “We are entering a time of head-spinning, mind-bending upheaval,” the presentation says. “Work, as we know it, is dying. Careers and offices: over.” She predicts that people will be able to work anytime and any place as freelancers, managing multiple jobs.

Looking at my career, I’ve worked in multiple industries and at various size companies. By having these experiences, I’ve gained a fulfilling perspective on where I best fit in. I spent my 20s doing a lot of learning, my 30s working really hard, and as I now enter into my 40s, in a management leadership position, I’ve begun to turn my attention to teaching a new generation of talent in our industry.

Originally published by Forbes.

Jean Freeman

Principal + CEO

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