Burnout often results from vague planning and improper prioritizing
As automation and artificial intelligence improves, businesses become increasingly efficient at turning a profit. As a result, jobs are more competitive than ever. Gone are the days when you could support an entire family working a manufacturing job. To make a living wage these days, you usually need either a college degree, elite communication and people skills or an unusual level of talent in music, art, sports or comedy. Otherwise, you might find yourself in a low wage job and stuck there.
The economic crash in 2008 kicked the situation into high gear. Many of the businesses that survived the crash used it as an opportunity to “run lean”. Not only did businesses “trim the fat” by removing non-essential positions, but they also took advantage of the high demand and low supply of jobs. Due to the low supply, companies could increase profits by having a smaller staff and overworking them, while paying them less.
Once a business gets used to running lean, there is little incentive to go back to providing “cushy jobs” with high pay and low output. This is especially true when so many workers came out of the 2008 crash with some degree of post-traumatic stress. In other words, when the economy improved and jobs were in higher demand, workers continued to overwork themselves in their jobs, even when it wasn’t necessary. Either overwork or risk being replaced by someone more ambitious than you. At least that’s how many people perceived things.
Now, over a decade after the crash, millennials are being called the “burnout generation” in the news. They are experiencing burnout because of the high cost of living and the slow accomplishment (or non-accomplishment) of various “adult milestones” they believe they should be achieving by a certain age. More specifically, they are burning out trying to “achieve their dreams” of parenthood, home ownership, travel, and “adulting” in general. There is also a competitive element at play with people seeking status among their peers so they can post about it on social media.
One factor many miss about burnout is that it is mostly a choice (mostly). In life, just like with everything else, poor planning leads to inefficiently. Burnout happens when someone is “inefficient at life”. People are usually inefficient at life because they have made or continue to make, bad decisions. People make bad decisions because they either fail to plan well or lack access to good information.
Millennials are not completely at fault for lacking access to good information. Most are just responding to the cue’s society gives them and choosing to live by the values society praises. Ironically, this is their biggest downfall. The secret to success is standing out, not fitting in. Oddly, everyone is fully aware of this when going to a job interview. Obviously, if you don’t stand out from all the other applicants, you won’t get the job. Yet, people fail to apply this same logic anywhere else in their lives. They blindly follow conventional wisdom, pop culture, their friends, etc. and burnout is the price they pay.
The following bad decisions can cause burnout:
Competing with your friends and peers
Doing ANYTHING you cannot afford
Trying to be like your parents (or anyone really)
Setting priorities based on pop culture
Seeking quick fixes and fast outcomes
Spending money instead of investing it
Getting into more debt to maintain an image
Getting into relationships to maintain an image
Getting married to maintain an image
Having kids to maintain an image
Not having a self-contained calling or purpose
Treating your life like it belongs to others rather than yourself
Most of the financial insecurity and fear people experience comes from engaging in the behaviors listed above. The much better alternative is to PLAN your life before you take any action. Rather than making a “to do list” with 30 bullet points, keep it simple. Come up with a one-year, five-year and ten-year plan. Map out exactly what needs to happen for you to succeed at these plans. Do extensive research to fully understand the conditions required for success. Plan around your natural inherent strengths rather than your weaknesses. Define exactly what succeeding looks like. Then move forward with very strict focus and discipline.
Most people do not live disciplined focused lives. They allow distractions and external noise to pull them in 100 different directions. They allow other people to set their priorities. They allow themselves to get distracted from what’s really important. They try to “have it all” and “do it all” at once. Then they wonder why they experience burnout. Burnout happens when you don’t really know what your priorities are and you allow others to make them for you.