Anti-Burnout Challenge, Day 4: Remember Your Purpose

Remembering why you got into working at associations can be an important way to get at the roots of burnout.

This is Day 4 of our five-day anti-burnout challenge. Day 1 was about shutting down; Day 2 was about self-compassion; Day 3 was about completing the stress cycle; and Day 5 is about making connections.

When you’re stressed out about your job, you might feel cynical about the work you’re doing. Instead of letting cynicism win, take a step back and recall why you’ve taken the role you have.

Today’s anti-burnout challenge: Get back in touch with the purpose of your work.

How to Remember Your Purpose

If you find yourself looking at your role like a certain Talking Heads song, it might help to take a moment to think about what connects you to work. That can help in any sector, but it’s particularly important in associations, which tend to be purpose-driven. Maintaining a link to that purpose can be a guiding light when you feel simultaneously distant from and all too mired in your tasks.

Try this: Grab a piece of paper, a pen or pencil, and a timer. (Typing on a word processor can work too, but scribbling by hand has unique benefits well-suited to this task.) Set the timer for 15 minutes or so. Write down what first drew you into your role with your association. It’s fine if the first things that come to mind are a little cynical, like “I need to pay the bills”—write them down and clear the way for the deeper reasons you chose association work. Think about people you’ve mentored, along with the members you serve. By spending time reinforcing the fact that, yes, the work you do has an impact, you can put yourself in a position to get more of an emotional reward from it in the long run.

Why You Should Remember Your Purpose

Disconnection is a manifestation of burnout that isn’t discussed as frequently as other symptoms, but in many ways, it might be one of the most important. After all, if you’re not relating to the work you do, it’s easy to let other burnout warning signs, such as stress, take over.

By tying your purpose to the work you do, you can help set the stage to get past some of the stress you might be feeling. After all, there’s always room for a small ember to rekindle the flame.

And if you’re struggling to recall that sense of purpose, it might be good to consider whether anyone else within your organization is feeling the same way. Now’s a good time to think about what your organization can do to help rekindle it—whether by encouraging growth or by connecting more closely to the community you serve.

That might just help with your burnout, too.

Have any other tips for reigniting the magic? Please share your thoughts in the comments below, so everyone else can get inspired.

(FrankRamspott/DigitalVision Vectors)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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