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Overcoming Burnout and Embracing the Benefits of Work-Life Balance in Male-Dominated Industries

Overcoming Burnout in Male-Dominated Industries

As a woman working up the corporate ladder, I get the pain of what it's like for the road to feel "harder". Even with all the progress we've made, overcoming burnout while navigating the complexities of male-dominated industries continues to be more crucial than ever.

I was recently invited to be a guest on the DOPE CFO podcast. Andrew Hunzicker (host) dove deep into the heart of this issues, sharing insights and practical advice on how to overcome burnout at work and embrace the benefits of work-life balance as a hard-working woman.

Whether you’re climbing the corporate ladder, running your own business during peak seasons like tax time, or simply looking to find more fulfillment in your daily routine, this guide is tailored for you. Discover the signs of burnout you can’t afford to ignore, the pivotal steps to recovery, and how to build a career that doesn’t compromise your health and happiness. Let’s embark on this journey together, reshaping the way we work and live in today’s demanding world.

The Importance of Recognizing Burnout and the Benefits of Work-Life Balance

Host: Tell us about your background in Big 4 and burnout.  Share a little more about your journey with us, starting from your professional experience rising up the corporate ladder to eventually ending up in the hospital.

Me: Before the emergency room incident in 2013 that became a turning point in my life, my dedication to my job knew no bounds. This unyielding commitment, however, came at a cost to my personal health and well-being. It was a powerful lesson in understanding the critical importance of work-life balance and recognizing the need for career resilience in the face of overwhelming stress.

Overcoming Burnout in Male-Dominated Industries

After that turning point, my perspective shifted significantly. I began to "lovingly" push back on emails received after hours, inquiring when tasks truly needed to be completed and if they could wait until business hours. I didn't realize until later on that this was called boundaries. I started speaking up for what I needed without feeling guilty about it.

Recognizing my value as a high performer, I understood that to continue performing at my best, I needed to prioritize my well-being alongside my responsibilities. This realization led me to start taking the flexibility I needed, such as working from home on Fridays, which eventually transitioned into a part-time schedule. This experience was a stark reminder of the benefits of work-life balance and the dangers of neglecting it. Learning how to overcome burnout at work became not just a personal mission but a professional one, as I realized that my experience was not unique but shared by many, especially women in high-pressure, male-dominated fields.

For those looking to dive deeper into strategies for career advancement without the risk of burnout, consider exploring additional resources and success stories on Acheloa Wellness's dedicated post.

Host: What are some of the common symptoms of burnout and overwhelm? What are some of the signs that you’re either experiencing them or that they’re right around the corner?

Me: Recognizing the signs of burnout and overwhelm is crucial for taking steps to address it. The World Health Organization identifies burnout as an "occupational phenomenon" characterized by feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one's job, and reduced professional efficacy. It's noteworthy that a significant percentage (75-90%) of doctor visits are for stress-related health concerns, underscoring the impact of workplace stress on physical health.

Some common symptoms to watch for include persistent fatigue, insomnia, digestive issues, and mood swings, which signal that your body and mind are under stress. Additionally, experiencing a cynical or negative outlook towards your job, difficulty concentrating, and a drop in work performance are key indicators of burnout. These signs serve as a warning that it's time to reassess your work-life balance and take action to prevent further deterioration of your health and well-being. Recognizing these symptoms early can help you take proactive steps to manage stress and avoid the deeper consequences of burnout.

For those interested in a more detailed account of navigating through burnout to empowerment, consider exploring my "Burniversary" series, which details my personal journey from burnout to recovery and empowerment.

Transitioning to Acheloa Wellness: Embracing the Benefits of Work-Life Balance

Host: Let’s focus on your transition from burnout to founding your coaching firm Acheloa Wellness. Can you tell us a little more about how and why you started your business, who you serve, and what you help them do? Can you also share some of the things you did while building your business to make sure you avoided the same mistakes?

Me: The creation of Acheloa Wellness stemmed from my own burnout journey, highlighting the need to prioritize the benefits of work-life balance. The company's core mission is to empower professionals to find a sustainable balance between their careers and personal lives, emphasizing the benefits of work-life balance as a foundation for long-term career resilience. The foundation of my business rests on the principles of self-care, setting boundaries, and the critical importance of integrating work-life balance for sustainable success.

Overcoming Burnout in Male-Dominated Industries

Acheloa Wellness is dedicated to helping these hard working professionals recover from burnout, find work-life balance, and build confidence. My approach integrates practical methods with a focus on mindset, enabling clients to achieve sustainable results. I cater to those who are deeply immersed in the daily grind and feel overwhelmed by the demands placed on them.

While building my business, it was critical that I didn't repeat the same mistakes that led to my burnout. To avoid falling into old patterns, I adhered to several key practices:

  • Prioritizing Sleep: I made sure to go to bed at a reasonable time, understanding the critical role of rest in maintaining overall health and productivity.

  • Focusing on "Essentials": Concentrating on the most crucial tasks allowed me to manage my workload effectively without overextending myself.

  • Trusting the Process: Believing in the inevitability of my success helped me to detach from the urgency and pressure of rapid achievements, emphasizing that the journey's speed does not dictate the outcome.

These strategies have been instrumental in building a successful business without compromising my health and well-being. They reflect the core principles I share with my clients, emphasizing the importance of self-care and mindful work habits to thrive in demanding careers.

Strategies for Maintaining Balance During Peak Work Periods

Host: Many of our listeners and audience members run their own accounting firm and as you know, tax season is here. Let’s say you’re in the middle of tax season, or just a particularly busy point in your business, you need to keep your business running and you obviously need to pay your bills, whether they’re personal or related to your business, but you’re feeling burnt out and overwhelmed. What would you say to someone in that position?

Me: In the thick of tax season or any particularly intense period of work, it's crucial to acknowledge the feelings of burnout and overwhelm without succumbing to the notion that you must navigate this time alone. I often see individuals believing they need to be the sole healers of their burnout, which not only perpetuates the cycle but also impacts their productivity and overall well-being negatively.

Overcoming Burnout in Male-Dominated Industries

My advice is to seek the support you need. There's no virtue in suffering in silence or enduring another stressful season without help. Whether it’s consulting with a coach, speaking to a therapist, or simply confiding in a trusted friend, finding an outlet for your stress is vital. These resources can provide you with perspective, strategies for managing your workload, and techniques for self-care that can make a significant difference in how you navigate busy periods.

If reaching out for professional help feels like too big of a step initially, consider incorporating smaller, more manageable practices into your routine. For instance:

  • Listening to Inspiring Podcasts: Choose content that uplifts and motivates you, providing a mental break from the stress of work.

  • Hydration: Drinking more water throughout the day can improve your physical well-being and focus.

  • Daily Short Walks: Even a brief walk outside can help reduce stress levels and improve your mood.

  • Planning a Day Off: Schedule a day for yourself, even if it’s a month away, giving you something to look forward to and a designated time to recharge.

Addressing the cyclical nature of work stress, especially during peak periods like tax season, is crucial for maintaining career resilience. These strategies are vital for learning how to overcome burnout at work, allowing individuals to sustain their performance without sacrificing their well-being. By prioritizing self-care, professionals can maintain their career resilience, even in the face of intense work pressures.

For a deeper dive into understanding and overcoming burnout, consider watching Karen Curry Parker's TED Talk, "A Better Job Won't Help: The Truth About Burnout." Parker explores the misconceptions surrounding burnout and why changing jobs might not be the solution we think it is. Her insights can provide valuable perspective for anyone looking to address burnout at its roots. Watch the full talk here.

Empowering Clients to Achieve Work-Life Balance

Host: How do you help your clients balance their professional aspirations with their personal lives all while avoiding burnout, overwhelm, and overwork? What are some of the best strategies you’ve found?

Me: In my work with clients, I emphasize the importance of a holistic approach to overcoming burnout. This involves not only practical tactics for managing workload and stress but also significant mindset shifts that redefine what it means to be successful in one's career. Teaching clients how to overcome burnout at work through a combination of strategic planning and self-reflection fosters a sense of career resilience, empowering them to navigate their professional paths with confidence and grace.

Overcoming Burnout in Male-Dominated Industries

One of the most effective strategies I've found is to focus on burnout recovery in two main steps: implementing practical tactics and fostering a supportive mindset. It's not just about telling clients what changes to make; it's equally about helping them give themselves permission to make those changes and to enjoy the process of doing so. This dual focus is a significant differentiator in my coaching strategy and has led to the fastest and most sustainable results for my clients.

Practical Tactics include setting clear boundaries between work and personal time, prioritizing tasks based on their importance and urgency, and incorporating regular breaks and self-care activities into the daily routine. These steps are designed to ensure that clients are working efficiently without sacrificing their health or personal time.

Mindset Shifts involve changing how clients view their work and personal life balance. This includes fostering a mindset that values self-care as an essential component of success, understanding that productivity does not equate to constant activity, and believing that it's possible to achieve professional goals without sacrificing personal well-being. By addressing limiting beliefs and encouraging clients to embrace a more flexible and compassionate approach to their work and lives, they can navigate their responsibilities with greater ease and less stress.

Another key element is helping clients develop resilience and a positive outlook, enabling them to handle stressors more effectively and bounce back from setbacks without falling into patterns of overwork or self-neglect.

In essence, the best strategies for avoiding burnout and finding balance involve a combination of practical adjustments to one's work and life routines, coupled with a deeper transformation in how one perceives and approaches these challenges. This comprehensive approach ensures that clients can pursue their professional aspirations while maintaining their well-being and enjoying a fulfilling personal life.

Understanding the Uncommon Aspects of Burnout

Host: What are some uncommon or unexpected things about burnout or overwhelm?

Me: Burnout and overwhelm can manifest in unexpected ways, teaching us that recovery is a personalized and ongoing journey. The benefits of work-life balance come into sharp focus as we learn that burnout can lead to profound personal and professional growth. Recognizing the unique and varied nature of burnout is key to developing effective prevention and management strategies.

Firstly, burnout manifests differently in everyone. It's not a one-size-fits-all condition, which means that the signs, symptoms, and solutions can vary significantly from person to person. What might be a clear sign of burnout in one individual could be less apparent or entirely different in another.

Overcoming Burnout in Male-Dominated Industries

Another unexpected aspect is that burnout isn't resolved overnight. Recovery requires time, patience, and a consistent effort to address both the root causes and the symptoms. Many people might expect quick fixes to their feelings of overwhelm, but the reality is that sustainable recovery involves gradual changes to lifestyle, mindset, and work habits.

Burnout can also recur, contradicting the belief that once you've overcome it, you're immune forever. It's not a "one and done" scenario. This means that ongoing self-care, stress management, and work-life balance practices are essential to prevent future episodes.

Perhaps one of the most profound but unexpected outcomes of experiencing burnout is that it can lead to significant life changes. For some, it serves as a wake-up call, prompting them to reevaluate their priorities, careers, and lifestyle choices. It can catalyze a journey towards finding more meaningful work, developing healthier relationships, and adopting a more balanced approach to life.

Understanding these uncommon aspects of burnout and overwhelm can help individuals and professionals better prepare for, manage, and navigate through their experiences with burnout. Recognizing that recovery is a personalized and ongoing process can empower people to take the necessary steps towards maintaining their well-being and achieving a fulfilling balance in their lives and careers.

Empowering Women in Male-Dominated Industries

Host: You also have a unique perspective on women building successful careers. You note that fewer than 25% of women become firm partners and often feel forced to choose between their career and their family while dealing with overwork to prove their worth. What would you say to women struggling with this decision? How would you coach them to feel more confident?

You: Addressing the challenges women face in building successful careers, especially in environments where they are underrepresented at the leadership level, requires a nuanced understanding of the societal and personal pressures involved. The statistic that fewer than 25% of women become firm partners highlights a broader issue of gender disparity in the workplace, where women often face difficult choices between career advancement and personal or family commitments.

Overcoming Burnout in Male-Dominated Industries

For women struggling with the decision between career progression and other aspects of their lives, my approach focuses on mindset as the tool to build confidence. It's common for women to come to me thinking they need to escape their current situation to find fulfillment. Surprisingly, a significant majority of my clients, over 75%, choose to stay in their current roles after we work together. This outcome suggests that the issue often lies not with the job itself but with how individuals engage with their work and perceive their options.

Here's how I would coach them:

  • Reframe the Situation: Instead of seeing the situation as a binary choice between career and personal life, I encourage exploring ways to integrate the two. This involves identifying what truly matters to you and finding ways to align your career with your personal values and goals.

  • Mindset Shift: Many believe that changing jobs will solve their problems, but the root issue often lies within. I work with my clients to shift their mindset, focusing on how they're showing up in their careers and taking responsibility for their part in their experiences. This shift can lead to significant changes in how they perceive their situation and their ability to find satisfaction within it.

  • Building Confidence: Confidence comes from recognizing and appreciating your own value and achievements. I guide my clients through a process of identifying their strengths, accomplishments, and the unique value they bring to their roles. This helps to build a sense of self-efficacy and empowerment.

  • Strategic Planning: Together, we create a strategic plan that includes setting boundaries, advocating for their needs, and seeking opportunities that align with their career aspirations and personal values. This plan is designed to support them in making informed decisions that reflect their priorities and goals.

  • Support and Accountability: I provide support and accountability, helping clients navigate challenges and celebrate successes along the way. This ongoing support is crucial for maintaining momentum and continuing to grow both personally and professionally.

The key message I share is that you don't have to choose between being successful in your career and fulfilling your personal goals. By shifting your mindset, embracing your strengths, and strategically navigating your career path, it's possible to create a fulfilling and balanced professional life without sacrificing your well-being or personal aspirations.

This conversation is a testament to the transformative power of recognizing the benefits of work-life balance, especially for women striving for success in challenging environments. By sharing this journey, we hope to inspire others to prioritize their well-being and advocate for a balanced approach to career and life.

Facing burnout is a common phase in many professional journeys, yet the crucial aspect lies in our approach to managing and overcoming it. If you find yourself grappling with the pressures of burnout, juggling work demands with life's responsibilities, it might be time to explore new strategies for resilience and recovery. As a seasoned coach specializing in assisting professionals—especially women in high-stress environments—I offer tailored guidance to help you navigate toward your career aspirations with greater ease and satisfaction. Embark on a path to a more fulfilling professional life; reach out to schedule a consultation call with me. Together, we'll take the initial steps toward restoring balance and rejuvenating your career.

Burnout Coaching with Lauren Baptiste

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