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Burn Out!
Old 08-01-2013, 03:11 PM   #1
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Burn Out!

Hello all. I've been have a struggle the last few months. I feel completely demotivated for work. My stress level is high and there doesn't appear to be any relief in sight. I'm only 26! I am a military officer in charge of a 70 person unit. I took a week off last week thinking that may help but getting back to work this week only proved more difficult.

I plan to separate from service late next year to pursue air traffic control in the civilian world. Sort of adding to my stress is the uncertainty of that career field lately with sequestration and an overall halt to hiring. ATC is my dream job. I do very little of it now and more control a desk and a conference room than anything else. I have zero job satisfaction.

In the meantime I feel trapped in a job/leadership role that I can't seem to dig up even the slightest motivation for these days. I mostly push papers and run/attend meetings all day. Stress is carrying over into my home life as my wife would attest to.

The reason for this post is to see if anyone has suggestions to get out of this funk? Late next year feels like 20 years away right now. I know I just need to suck it up, but I've been trying that for months as it is. Any advice?
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Old 08-01-2013, 03:26 PM   #2
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What helped me was planning for the exit, focusing on what I needed to be prepared to leave.

It is hard for me to imagine having a 70-person span of control. Perhaps you should look for immediate subordinates to carry some of that load.
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Old 08-02-2013, 10:48 PM   #3
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Assuming you have a decent amount of leave, take shorter amounts more often. Try taking every Friday off for a three day weekend (don't leave the area, just take one day off). If a lot of your employees are civilian, you might not miss too much anyway since many of them will be furloughed. It is much easier to stay motivated for a shorter workweek. When you do go into work on Monday morning, you can tell yourself if you survive 3.5 days, you'll get 3.5 days off.

All the best.
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Old 08-03-2013, 02:11 AM   #4
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When I'm down or stressed I watch motivational DVDs: goal setting, life planning, time managements, etc. I like the Brian Tracy DVDs the best. One of the exercises is to imagine your ideal life and then set concrete goals to make it a reality.

Management / leadership DVDs or audio books might also help to develop skills that would make your job easier to handle and less stressful. Seventy people is a lot to manage at age 26! Is that common in the military?

I had a group of less than ten at your age, everyone in my group was much older than me, I had no management training and it was tough slogging. I found the audio books and videos I did on my own really helpful, especially all the dealing with people and office politics topics, since those aren't the kind of things they taught in college.
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Old 08-04-2013, 10:31 AM   #5
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Assuming you have a decent amount of leave, take shorter amounts more often. Try taking every Friday off for a three day weekend (don't leave the area, just take one day off).
Speaking as another military officer, this seems to be discouraged when holding a key command/leadership position like the OP is doing. I've been instructed to "start burning leave" when I'm not very busy so that I don't have to take leave later on (as a result of "use-or-lose") when I'm actually busy. That said, if you are getting out, who cares what they think?

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Seventy people is a lot to manage at age 26! Is that common in the military?
This is the norm. In my first assignment, at 23 years old, I was in charge of 40-50 people (granted, only a few of those would report directly to me). I agree that reading management literature for specific, actionable advice is a great idea. My officer training pipeline provided a foundation in "leadership," but I discovered a lot of help in books like Effective Executive, One Minute Manager, and Switch. I also learned a lot from the "Manager Tools" podcasts.

Tim
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Old 08-04-2013, 02:36 PM   #6
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The nice part about the military is that your job changes every two to three years. If it's the position you're in or the boss you work for, you can tough it out and move on with job security. Can't say as much in the non-FI civilian world.

Otherwise, what's helped me through various deployments and tough times is keeping my eyes down the road, planning for the future, and spending time with my wife when I have it.
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Old 08-04-2013, 02:54 PM   #7
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At only 26 years old, you seem quite young to be this burned out. If this is just not the right job for you, then hopefully switching to something else will solve the problem. You just need to make sure that you won't find yourself in the same situation as an air traffic controller. That can be a fairly high stress job itself. If the problem might be something other than the specific job you are in, use the time you have in your current job to figure out what's really going on in your life to make you feel so burned out. It may be the job, but it may be other stuff too.
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Old 08-04-2013, 05:32 PM   #8
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there are many days I wake up depressed, sometimes about work, other times over different issues.

For me the solution is excercise. I excercise every morning for a 1/2 hour and I always feel better. And, after dinner, 15 minutes more almost every day.

I don't know if this would work for you but 26 is way too young to be burned out about anything, especially a job you can change in a couple more years. If you already excercise, sorry for the advice. Good luck to you. Most everyone on this blog would trade places with a 26 year old. I'd love the chance to live so many years over......you're very lucky......enjoy yourself.
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Old 08-04-2013, 08:52 PM   #9
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At age 26 I had the classic symptoms of burnout. Support from my family was very helpful, then I picked myself up and fought another 29 years.
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Old 08-05-2013, 09:09 AM   #10
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Thank you everyone for your responses! I will try many of your strategies. The day I wrote this post, I had hit an all time low, but I'm doing better now. I'm going to keep my head on the horizon and where I want to be in a year when I separate.

I know ATC is high stress, but I find myself so focused, I feel the stress from everyday life melts away when I'm actually performing atc duties. What really stresses me out is being at the management level. I much prefer to be an individual contributor, which is something I've learned about myself (to my surprise) over the last 3 years plus I've always been an introvert.

This has been a good experience and has forced me out of my introvert shell but I now know that management is not something I can personally sustain more a career.

Thanks again!
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Old 08-05-2013, 09:25 AM   #11
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The nice part about the military is that your job changes every two to three years. If it's the position you're in or the boss you work for, you can tough it out and move on with job security. Can't say as much in the non-FI civilian world.
+1.

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Most everyone on this blog would trade places with a 26 year old.
I wouldn't.
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Old 08-06-2013, 12:58 AM   #12
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Thank you everyone for your responses! I will try many of your strategies. The day I wrote this post, I had hit an all time low, but I'm doing better now. I'm going to keep my head on the horizon and where I want to be in a year when I separate.

I know ATC is high stress, but I find myself so focused, I feel the stress from everyday life melts away when I'm actually performing atc duties. What really stresses me out is being at the management level. I much prefer to be an individual contributor, which is something I've learned about myself (to my surprise) over the last 3 years plus I've always been an introvert.

This has been a good experience and has forced me out of my introvert shell but I now know that management is not something I can personally sustain more a career.

Thanks again!

I have been in management for 5 years and I can relate. It's not fun. I will never take another management position again. Only reason why I haven't quit is because the pay is good. I think about quitting everyday though.
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Old 08-06-2013, 09:17 PM   #13
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I would advise that you get out, gracefully if possible. Of course I'm bad at taking my own advice, been burned out for a good 2 years now due to management roles but still haven't done anything about it.
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Old 08-06-2013, 10:06 PM   #14
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What really stresses me out is being at the management level. I much prefer to be an individual contributor, which is something I've learned about myself ... I now know that management is not something I can personally sustain over a career.
If nothing else, I guess you can be happy that you didn't waste time, energy and money pursuing the part-time MBA that you were considering last year.
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