Many of us are simply burned out. And despite the attempt by Millennials to own that, evidence points to the contrary. Because we were the work-life balance guinea pigs, we’ve made a habit of trying to prove that we can prioritize our personal lives without compromising our work output.
In other words, as the first generation to attempt work-life balance, we had very little guidance on how to pull it off. So what went wrong — and what can we do about it?
Understanding the slow burn
Burnout doesn’t have a clinical diagnosis, but it’s easily recognizable, thanks to the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI). By assessing factors like quality of work, control, rewards, fairness, values conflict, and breakdown of community, it reveals the telltale signs of burnout: emotional exhaustion, disconnection, and inefficacy.
Research shows that Baby Boomers and Generation X make little to no attempt to avoid burning out mentally as well as physically. Whereas, the younger generations (such as generations Y and Z) are more preoccupied with preventing things like burnout, so they think in terms of prevention.
With five generations competing in the workplace for a better work-life balance by 2020, we’ve got to stake our claim now for a better way. Which means it’s time to lead by example.
Integration, not balance
It’s worth taking a page out of the younger generations’ playbook to reframe how you pursue your personal vs. professional life. Ditch the precarious balancing act in favor of a more meaningful work-life integration that aligns your real-life values with your workplace pursuits to reignite your excitement and engagement.
This could mean finding a new gig, setting out on your own, or having a heart-to-heart with your employer. The key is to do something instead of ignoring the issue.
Hours spent doesn’t equate to productivity or quality. And money isn’t everything. The simple antidote to burnout isn’t balance — it’s change.