Something Common Among New Grad OTs: Burnout?

By Joseph Reinke, CFA, CEO of FitBUX

I've been astonished how many new grad OTs I've spoken with in the past three months are already talking about quitting occupational therapy due to "burn out."  I've also been hearing about how they do not feel like they are accomplishing anything and feel like their lives are on a useless repeat cycle day in and day out.

New grads have heard me comment on a few of the podcast I've been on that I put in really (really) long hours on FitBUX and they ask me how I prevent myself from "burning out."  This article discusses a few psychological tips I've learned to help you deal with this...

It's All About Achievements

For the last 20 years, you've been in school.  Everyday was geared towards accomplishing something. You do your homework, pass a test, and get good enough grades to move on to the next level. Every day you literally have something to accomplish.

Once you enter the workforce, it seems like you "become a machine." Same things, over and over i..e. You wake up at the same time every day, get to work, see the same number of patients, go home, eat, go to sleep, repeat.  The problem is that, we, as human beings have a  unique trait. Subconsciously, we must achieve, it's how we get self-satisfaction and feel like days aren't wasted. 

The big difference being in the workforce vs being a student? When you are a student someone is telling you what you need to accomplish.  When you are in the workforce, most of us have to figure it out for ourselves. 

My Approach

Personally, I pick three things a day (it doesn't have to be three necessarily though...) and I literally get those three things done before I start anything else. 

In addition, I determine my three things the night before so I don't start my day randomly the next morning. I can hit the ground running and most of the time I have completed my 3 things before 9:00AM.

It's Got To Be New

Do you ever hear someone say, "That year just flew by!" or "Years seemed so long when I was younger, now they pass so quickly."

The reason it feels like the years "fly by" when we are older is that everything around us stops being new.  When we are younger every experience, every encounter, every movie, etc...is new. 

Let's think about this...pick a five-day span. When we were younger on day 1 we started at a new school so the rooms were new. Day two, you meet your new best friend. Day three. you went to the movie for the first time. Day 4, you saw math for the first time. Day 5, you went to Hawaii with your family.

Each one of these events will be distinct in your head and thus makes those 5 days feel like a million years.

Now compare that to your five-day work week...As I mentioned earlier: wake up at the same time, see the same number of patients, go to the gym, eat, sleep, repeat.  When nothing is new anymore, weeks blur together with days, months blur together with weeks, years blur together with months...and the next thing you know, the year "flew by".

My Approach

You have to make things new again. New routes to work, new books to read, new places to travel, new friends to meet, etc... When you do new "things" you subconsciously feel as though you are learning. Learning equates to accomplishment (see above) and the next thing you know you will feel like days aren't wasted and that you aren't a machine anymore.

Hope this helps anyone feeling discouraged post-graduation...

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