Let’s face it, being a chamber professional is demanding. It’s not a 9-5 job. It requires a lot of weekend and after hours work and the salaries are rarely akin to the same level in the corporate world.
So why do we do it?
Most of us do it because we love helping businesses and our communities succeed, but even those noble reasons aren’t always enough to keep us from burning out.
We see it all the time. Staff leaves to go work with members. Some execs find themselves lured away. Many of us just get to the point where it becomes too much. But how can we avoid that? And how can we keep working at the jobs we love without burning out? There are people who work an insane amount of hours and they still keep going strong. They’ve found chamber job success.
What makes one situation ripe for burnout and another just part of the way things are?
What is Chamber Career Burnout?
According to the Harvard Business Review, people burn out from positions for three reasons:
- Exhaustion–you can only function on three hours of sleep for so long
- Cynicism–this erosion of engagement means you no longer feel the passion for the job or mission you once did
- Inefficacy–feeling like you’re not accomplishing what you set out to do
How to Avoid Burnout
The best way to avoid chamber career burnout is to follow these tips.
Prioritize your own well-being. This goes beyond getting enough sleep every night. There is something in your life you must have, aside from eating, breathing, and shelter. It’s unique to you and it helps you recharge. To me, it’s reading. I end every night with a few pages (or more). If I can’t have that, I feel exhausted because it’s part of my unwind ritual. Even if it’s hours past my bedtime, I’ll make time for reading. I know a PR friend of mine who needs to get in a certain number of miles on her bike every day.
Whatever it is for you, dedicate time to achieving chamber work/life balance every day. Add it to your schedule as a standing appointment. Don’t give up that time for anything. If you have to, shorten it (I don’t read 50 pages every night but I do read at least 1-2) but never go a day without it.
Remember the why. Simon Sinek is right when he says people buy our why. Your mind does too. If you don’t know why you’re doing something any longer remember why you started doing it in the first place. If you can’t, maybe this position has served its purpose in your life and it’s time to move on (before burn out sets in).
Give up the fight. Have you ever felt put upon? You dwell in this negative feeling and then every little thing that comes up is another big sigh and something more added to your plate. You can list off 100 different ways people have put something else on you this week alone. This fixation on how the world is dumping more and more on your plate, causes you to focus on the negative feeling behind being overwhelmed.
You feel every moment of your personal time is being encroached upon because you’re focusing on it. Instead, focus on how people entrust you to get the job done, on how you are one of the best at handling these issues. Focus on your strength and your abilities. Let your mind rejoice in your success.
Work/life balance died a few years back.
The Internet murdered it.
What we got in return was an ability to stay connected wherever we go. That’s a bittersweet tradeoff but when you do what you love, you stop looking at it as a battle. You stop saying things like, “I don’t get paid enough for this.” It’s no longer one or the other: your work or your life. What a terrible decision to make.
Instead, create for yourself a life that doesn’t take you into chamber career burnout or requires lines to be drawn in the sand. If the chamber life isn’t for you, so be it. Find the thing that does and then pursue it.
Runners and other athletes call it the “zone.” When you’re there you don’t question how many miles it’s been or how much of your life that run is taking up. You enjoy it for what it is.