Do you need a new job or new habits?

Before making your next career move, consider these simple strategies to determine what is really going on.

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Julia Arndt - Peak Performance Coach
Julia Arndt - Creator of the Peak Performance Method

Based on a survey led by Kronos in 2017, interviewing 614 HR leaders from organizations with 100 to 2,500+ employees, 46% of HR leaders say employee burnout is responsible for up to half of their annual employee turnover (Source: Kronos, 2017).

The world’s leading organizations are known for employing the best and the brightest to navigate high-pressure environments, complex projects, and regular organizational changes. And when their employees hit overwhelm, burnout and exhaustion? They are looking for a new job.

As a peak performance and stress management coach, I recently talked to a new client, the HR director of a mid-sized tech company in Silicon Valley. She reached out to me, because she was looking to make a change in her career. She told me she felt like she hit a plateau and was unsure if the company could still provide her growth and development. When I asked her if she had taken a few days off during the Holidays to reset, she burst into tears.

No, I have been working pretty much every day through the Holiday…

…she admitted, apologizing for the tears and seemingly feeling a bit embarrassed about the reaction that my question had brought up. She mentioned that she had been working non-stop: a co-worker had just handed in her resignation, work was falling back on her and her company was just going through a merger while she was taking care of her 14-month old baby. She felt sleep-deprived, restless, overloaded with problems and had no time for herself.

A lot of scientific research proves that extreme levels of stress don’t only influence our physical well-being, but also our cognitive processing: elevated levels of cortisol influence brain function such as decision making. 

She was not the first client that had come to me with the exact same issue and conclusion. 

Do employees need a new job or a new habit?

The top talent, I also like to refer to them as high achievers, that are working in industries such as tech, consulting and VC, have learned to push through no matter what’s asked of them. Along the way, they have accumulated extremely unhealthy habits: 

1) Working 100 hours per week

2) Being constantly connected

3) Always putting themselves last when it comes to self-care

So when they hit their limits or a plateau, they think the only way out is to blame it on the job itself. They don’t realize that their unhealthy habits that they have accumulated over the years are responsible for burnout and exhaustion.

Here is the thing: in the first 6 months or so while they are in the honeymoon phase of a new career, they might feel better. But as soon as they are fully ramped up and challenges, like shortage of staff, new projects and late nights hit again, they will fall into the exact same bad habits.

What are your options?

Before considering a career change the next time, ask yourself: do you need a new job or new habits?

Here are your options:

  • Stay with your job, improve your habits
  • Change job, stay with your bad habits
  • Change job, change your habits 

Get back to peak performance

Here are a few habits that have proven to be extremely powerful in decreasing stress levels and keeping high achiever status:

  • Manage your time wisely, and prioritize what’s most important
  • Set better boundaries with co-workers, and learn how to say “No” on additional work projects 
  • Establish daily routines to decrease the amount of decisions you need to make during the day
  • Spend at least 30 minutes each day to exercise, no matter if you go outside for a walk or hit the gym for an intensity training
  • Know your values, and act accordingly. What is more important to you? Your career or your long-term physical and mental health?

Final word

Burnout is only one reason why employees leave their job. But if you can identify with the story above, think about working on your peak performance habits before looking for a new job. Or if you are choosing to make a career change, ensure to improve your peak performance habits. Because here is the secret: the investment in your daily work habits will be what ultimately helps you succeed in your career in the long-run

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