Nonprofit Burnout Syndrome
July 7, 2010 7:43 AM Subscribe
I'm burnt out, but I don't want to (and can't, really) quit my job. The only way out seems to be through it, so how do I get through this, do a good job, and stay sane?
posted by wholebroad to work & money (16 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
tl;dr: I'm burnt out and the workload is about to increase. How do I cope?
I work for a nonprofit advocacy group. I'm the project lead on an issue campaign that's somewhat time-limited (should be won or lost within a year) and very important to me. But I'm burnt out, which is making me unhappy, less effective, and less pleasant to work with.
So far, I've coped by cutting my hours to normal-person levels - 40-50 hours a week - and making my off-hours sacrosanct. However, the campaign is going into a very intense, crucial phase that will last several months. I'm getting pressure from the higher-ups to significantly ramp up our activities. And I agree that this is necessary, but really do not know if I have it in me to put in that kind of emotional, physical and mental energy at this point. The thought of it - the kind of hours I need to work, the way I need to go into superdrive to make this happen - makes my stomach get all knotted up.
Since this started, the burnout symptoms have gotten worse: I cry almost every day at work (in the bathroom, or in my office with the door closed), I avoid work that should be easy, and I go to bed every night dreading the next day.
The thing is, my job doesn't just involve me working long hours. It's an enormous part of my job to inspire volunteers to take on leadership roles and teach them to do chunks of my job. I'm also wrangling a coalition. You can't really fake this part - if I'm not excited to be here, it shows, and the work suffers.
Quitting and getting a new job is not really a great option for me right now, for a variety of reasons (the economy, the fact that I will hopefully be leaving in a year to go to grad school). I should also note that I do not normally have a problem with working hard, and I realize that I am very lucky to have a job at all right now. This is not a laziness issue.
So I need to find a way to get over or through the burnout. Thoughts?