This week New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced her sudden resignation, saying she no longer had “enough in the tank” to continue leading her country.
“I’m leaving because such a privileged role comes with responsibility — the responsibility of knowing when you’re the right person to lead and when you’re not,” she said. “I know what this job requires. And I know I don’t have enough left in the tank to do it justice.”
Ardern said she would not be seeking re-election and will end her term no later than Feb. 7. At the age of 37, Ardern became the world’s youngest female head of government and is a globally popular figure. She was praised internationally for banning military-style semi-automatic assault rifles after the 2019 Christchurch shootings and for leading the country with one of the lowest COVID death tolls.
Support for Ardern has fallen in recent months due to the rising cost of living and social inequality, but Ardern said in her resignation that she was leaving not because the job was difficult, but because it was time.
“I am human, politicians are human. We give everything we can, as long as we can. And then it’s time. And it’s time for me,” she said, later adding, “I’m looking forward to spending time with my family again — maybe they’re the ones who sacrificed the most of all of us.”
Part of quitting a job because of burnout is choosing what matters most to you besides a job. In Ardern’s speech, she commented that she was looking forward to being there for her daughter Neve when school started and told her partner in the audience: “Land we’re finally getting married.’
Leaders “are very beholden to a lot of people, they endure a lot of public scrutiny, and I think people forget there’s a human being behind that very public face,” said Lauren Appio, a psychologist, executive coach, and consultant specializing in mental health. at work. “I don’t know Jacinda at all, I can’t speculate on her mental health, but I can say that running a country is pretty high pressure.”
Very few of us will ever face the pressures of leading a country, but experiencing burnout at work, even for a job you love, is very common.
Here are the signs you may no longer have “enough in the tank” to keep working and what you can do about it.
Your mind and body will tell you when you’re missing “enough in the tank” to do your job. Don’t ignore the warning signs.
Early signs of burnout can feel like a bad mood that won’t go away.
“Earlier signs may include a feeling of anxiety, irritability and/or agitation, difficulty focusing on necessary tasks, and a mind that wanders to all the other activities you prefer,” says Ryan Howes, a clinical psychologist in Pasadena. , California. “These indicate reduced energy and passion for work. When the burnout is more advanced, people can start making big mistakes, have more interpersonal conflicts and notice physical signs of stress.”
Howes said before you consider quitting, you want to make sure work is the source of these feelings. “Some may feel burnt out at work because, for example, they have an underlying illness, are malnourished, have a sleep disorder, or experience a lot of stress outside the office,” he said.
But if you determine that the burnout is work-related, you want to address it before these emotions lead to physical complaints. That’s when the burnout can affect your immune system and how your body functions, said Katheryn Perez, a California-based psychotherapist. As a result, you may get sick more than usual, you may experience blurred vision, fatigue, and gastrointestinal issues such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and upset stomach, she noted.
“These physical symptoms can make it extremely uncomfortable and painful for people to continue functioning in the workplace,” Perez said.
A big warning sign that quitting may be your best option is when you stop finding joy in your day-to-day life, said career strategist Ana Goehner.
“When a job takes so much of your time and energy and leaves you drained and exhausted, you can’t spend quality time with your friends and family,” she said. “If you don’t find pleasure in daily activities and are unable to take care of yourself, it’s time to leave. “
If you feel like your job is starting to damage important ties, like those with your family, that can be the tipping point that it’s time to go too.
“When I work with people, and they get to the point where they decide, ‘I just can’t do it anymore,’ it’s often a sense of resignation,” Appio said. “This is not worth it to me. This has gotten so bad, and there’s not enough good things keeping me here, or it’s affecting really important areas of my life, my relationship, my parenting.” Those are really the things that get people over the line.”
If you can’t leave just yet, there are strategies to limit the impact of work on you.
Ardern may resign, but many of us find ourselves in situations where we cannot resign immediately. In the meantime, if that sounds like you, there are still strategies to cope:
Identify which parts of the job are most stressful and ask to change them.
“Perhaps you like the work yourself, but not your manager or a particular colleague. Is it possible to move to another part of the company? You may be expected to give presentations, but public speaking will stress you out. Can you ask to have that removed from your duties? suggested Howes. “Many of my clients were surprised to find that asking for certain changes or adjustments at work was much easier and received better than expected, and wish they had asked sooner.”
Talk about your struggles with trusted people.
Howes said talking about work stress with colleagues, trusted friends or family members can help you realize you’re not alone and aren’t weird for feeling stressed.
Build up your savings now so you can leave sooner.
Appio recommended that people with burnout invest and save money where they can so that “you have some runway and a little more freedom in determining whether to stay or go.”
Take advantage of all the resources your company offers that will give you short-term relief.
Check if your company has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for mental health resources recommended by Goehner. Appio said if you’re trying to take time off and divide responsibilities and your burnout hasn’t changed, or things “go into crisis mode and people are having suicidal thoughts and things like that, it’s definitely time to take medical leave where that is ” available.”
You can see if your employer is financing a short-term disability benefit. For example, the Family and Medical Leave Act makes unpaid, job-protected time off available to eligible employees.
Know that your job pays you, but does not own you.
Howes said the worst possible scenario is for professionals experiencing burnout if they can’t leave the job or change to meet their needs.
In this case, he said, “All I can suggest is that you try to take pride in completing a difficult task, feel good about earning money to provide for yourself and/or your loved ones, and every moment you can take to listen. to your favorite song, bond with a co-worker, work on your stand-up routine, fanfiction, learn French or memorize a poem, and remember that your job pays you for your time, your experience, your brain and sometimes your physical strength, but they have no claim on your mind. There is always a part of you that is unique and all yours, and the boss can never have that.