These are challenging times for everyone. As a chamber professional, you work hard even in good times. Chamber job burnout has always been a thing. But now, when members are feeling great pain due to lackluster sales, the cost of everything going up, and a frustrating inability to hire, tempers can flare (at you!) and burnout is lurking.
This can make an already thankless job seem impossible, right? If you’re starting to feel it, keep reading.
Add in the frustration of your current job to the employee-favoring hiring market (someone may be courting you right now) and you may be ready to give up your chamber career altogether.
But you don’t have to.
There are options out there and techniques you can use that will help you find that “loving feeling” again for chamber work.
If you’re frustrated and overworked, try these tips before job burnout makes you turn in your resignation letter.
12 Tips for Putting Out the Job Burnout … Before It Starts
There is a point of no return when it comes to dissatisfaction with a job.
I liken job burnout to the scenario where the neglectful spouse is finally bringing flowers … as the other spouse is packing the car to leave.
At that point, flowers are too little, too late. No bouquet, no matter how beautiful, is going to alter the course of actions put in motion. The relationship may have been salvageable months before with a bouquet and some nice words. But by the time someone is in the physical act of leaving, flora of any kind is not going to help.
If you ignore the warning signs of your own exhaustion and discontent with a job, you will reach a point of no return.
Nothing your board does or says will be able to alter that. Sometimes a salary increase will change the timing in leaving, but ultimately, that’s simply “buying time.” The additional money is nice but it doesn’t reverse job burnout. It simply tames the fire temporarily.
Once you allow yourself to move to burnout status, there is little that can be done.
These strategies are vital to implement before you reach that level.
- Focus on what your job gives you that you enjoy.
Are there benefits or skills you get to use that are important to you? Focus on those each night when you think about your day, not the things that went wrong. Speaking of which…
- Cultivate a short memory.
When something goes terribly wrong, do your best to fix it and forget it. Otherwise, you are doomed to dwell on it, which only drives more discontent. Instead, do what you can to remedy the situation. Say the apologies. Redo the work. Know that tomorrow is another day and another opportunity to affect your community in a positive way.
- Realize you are not everyone’s cup of tea.
“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” said Dita Von Teese. There is nothing peaches can do to endear themselves to these people. There are some who will never warm to you. This is not your fault. You don’t need to waste time trying to win them over. Just keep doing your work.
- Make peace with the idea that you are where you need to be–until you aren’t.
Adopt the attitude that you are where you need to be. When you get to the point where you realize there’re nothing more for you to learn at your given position, then consider alternatives. In the meantime, focus on the good you’re doing and how you’re helping.
- Recognize opportunities.
According to Career Coach, Kristina Leonardi, in an article on themuse.com, “Every person you meet is a potential door to a new opportunity—personally or professionally. Build good bridges.” If you’re feeling frustrated, start looking at your network and the new people you meet in another way and build good bridges. You may need them in your chamber role or beyond.
- Remember your goals.
What were your career goals when you chose this position? What did you get excited about and how did you see it transforming you? Try to get back to those ideals.
- Look at what you’ve brought with you.
What part of your chamber is forever altered because of work you have done? What program or leadership skill did you bring that the role, board, or community is better for? Thank yourself for that. You can’t wait around for others to thank you. If what you’re doing is working well, they may not remember how things used to be. Invite the new chamber pro to thank your seasoned chamber pro self. You can even write yourself a note to more fully experience the appreciation of your own growth.
- Show up early.
No one wants to walk into a house of chaos first thing. That’s why showing up early can be a wonderful gift you give to yourself. When you show up early, you are giving yourself the gift of time to prepare for the day, to sort things out, and plan how you will tackle your challenges. You have a greater opportunity to be proactive, not reactive. If showing up early isn’t possible because of early morning responsibilities, plan your day the night before or get up thirty minutes early and review your day at home ahead of your responsibilities. It will make you feel more prepared and less stressed.
- Understand the need (or emotion) behind the ask.
When you are dealing with difficult people, try to imagine what is behind their “less than appealing” attitude. Are they afraid of losing their business? Do they feel left out or ganged up on? Does this remind them of something that has happened before and they are projecting an outcome that hasn’t happened? Whenever you face someone who is reacting in a way that seems overly emotional compared to what you believe the situation warrants, try to imagine what may be fueling their ire. It will help you be more empathetic and may help calm the situation.
- Know that every career has its frustrations.
There’s a popular saying about following your passion and making a career out of it. When you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. I’m not discounting that loving what you do is a whole lot better than the opposite feeling, but every job has its frustrations. Ask any person who dreamed of being a stay-at-home parent. There are great rewards to this job but there’s also a grind. Ask the president of a company (or the president of the United States, for that matter). Every job is a job. Some aspect of it will get old, just like yours feels now. There are frustrating parts to every job. Don’t sugarcoat the realities of your ideal work. After all, every job has its share of meetings or paperwork.
- Reframe how you view feedback.
It’s easy to take feedback as criticism. You weren’t doing something right and you were told to do it differently. That hurts. This may seem a little new age-y, but instead try to look it as a gift. Someone cares enough about the issue to give you a suggestion. Yes, the delivery may be lacking and it may sting. But try to unwrap what they are saying and what’s behind it. You may find that it becomes more attractive and worthwhile when you do.
- Embrace the idea that in struggle there is opportunity.
Every challenging situation presents the opportunity to learn from it. Thank the universe for the brilliant “opportunities” we’ve all been given this past 18 months. In pivoting, you likely discovered something about yourself and your community.
If you’re struggling in your current role as a chamber professional, take care of yourself before you reach burn out stage. Once you do reach burn out, these things won’t be as successful in helping you feel better.