Here's something I know about you, simply because you've found your way to this blog: any old office job won't keep your attention for long, because you want MORE.
You want to feel connected to your work on a deeper level, and you want to feel like you're contributing something worthwhile while you're paying your bills.
You aren't in this just for the money, dammit!!
Which is how you ended up in the job that you're in. Whether you chose this gig because the work itself was meaningful to you, or whether you wanted to use it to support another meaningful part of your life, you signed up for this thing with only the best of intentions.
So how did you end up here, feeling less-than-awesome, and maybe even feeling kinda burnt out?
If you're in the caring or helping professions, you probably already know the answer. It takes a BRICK-TON of energy to make a living by giving to others.
Empathic fatigue is a very real thing. It's equivalent to a corporate office drone saying that she's "overworked", shuffling mountains of paperwork until 10:00pm every night - except the helping professional is also overworking her emotional, mental, psychological, and sometimes spiritual capacities, in addition to working overtime.
But empathic fatigue isn't the only thing that can make a once-meaningful job into a painful, soul-sucking energy drain.
If you're feeling drained by once-meaningful work, consider these other less-talked-about possibilities:
1. Toxic physical environment.
Even the most rewarding and satisfying job can drain you if the surroundings aren't supportive of your potential or natural way of functioning.
All living beings are naturally attuned to their environment; we absorb information from our surroundings 24/7 because this is how we survive and thrive. This is why we have our senses! We need to sense when there's danger, opportunity, or sustenance nearby.
But for those of us who are highly sensitive, the environment can be an even more intense influencer of our well-being - in both a negative and positive way. A toxic or overstimulating physical environment can affect us a LOT... and a nourishing or supportive environment can affect us a LOT.
Draining workplace surroundings might consist of distracting noise, abrasive urban sounds outside your window, fluorescent lighting, areas that feel unsafe, temperatures that are too cold or too hot, yelling or screaming, lack of air flow, broken or damaged furniture, lack of privacy, strong perfumes or air fresheners, lack of physical space... I can go on and on.
For those of us who are more intuitive or sensitive, these types of environmental triggers can cause a significant decrease in work satisfaction, especially if they're experienced all day, every day. They're an assault on our senses, which is an assault on our physiology as a whole.
2. Toxic social environment.
Empaths and heart-centered introverts everywhere know how painful it is to deal with ongoing drama, conflict, negativity, inauthenticity, or passive aggression at work.
But here's the truth: social interactions don't even have to be NEGATIVE persay to be draining! Maybe you have coworkers or clients who are especially long-winded, or "use a lot of words", as I like to say. Or maybe they're frequently talking about themselves, to the point where you feel like you're just listening without having a chance to contribute anything. Or maybe they talk really FAST and it's a struggle to keep up with what they're trying to say when you're already tired from a long day.
Introverted empaths can physically feel the intense emotions of those around them AND feel the draining effects of oversocializing. If you've ever felt on edge AND exhausted at the same time... this is probably why!
Absorbing the energies of the folks in your work space every day can be overwhelming, even if the rest of your job is not.
Okay, my friend. This is the hardest one to hear, in my opinion: maybe you love the IDEA of your job more than you love actually DOING it. The mission is meaningful, but your job tasks are not.
I've had a ton of personal experience in this area. I had to experience many meaningful but draining jobs before I learned to listen to my gut instincts instead of the "nice ideas" in my head.
Like, yes, supporting older adults to walk down to the Bingo game more independently is a nice idea. And yes, doing anything involving young people sounds great. And getting more money for a non-profit to continue their great work in the community is super honorable.
These are all really nice ideas that I can get behind. In fact, I absolutely LOVE all these ideas and I think they MUST be done!
...by someone else. ;) Preferably someone who loves physical therapy, chit chatting, witty banter, negotiating, or networking. (i.e. not me!)
Just because you believe in your work does NOT mean that you have to (or should) be the one to do it.
Just because a job is meaningful to you does not mean it will also be enjoyable for you to do it - and that's okay. It just means that it's time to get behind that mission in a different way.
Now, I'd love to hear from you.
If you're feeling drained and burnt out from a job that was once meaningful to you, what do you think is the biggest factor: empathic fatigue, toxic surroundings, the social environment, or disillusionment?
Maybe you've even experienced all of these to varying degrees, like I have.
But here’s the good news: there’s hope!!!
It is 1,000% possible for you to find, create, or re-ignite the type of work that lights you up and that frees you to be your true self at your core. You can absolutely have a worklife that allows you to thrive and succeed beyond your wildest dreams, making an impact in a way that makes you feel good - and that doesn’t burn you out.
What if I told you that your current draining job might actually be the key to the worklife of your dreams?
Sign up for the FREE audio training, 3 Secrets for Turning Your Soul-Sucking Job Into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You, to find out how.