9 Ways Introverts Can Beat Work Exhaustion
Find your score and how you can turn it around In our Introvert Leadership Quiz: How Well Are You Using Your Introvert Strengths at Work, 82% of respondents agreed they were exhausted after work.
Why are we so exhausted all the time? Is this normal? It is work after all? Must I endure this until I retire? How can I not? For decades I ran off to work, only to find I was completely exhausted by the end of the day. I dragged myself home and sank into our couch in front of the TV. As productive as I felt most of the time at work, I felt like a lazy sack at home. My wife and kids generally got my remnants on weeknights and Sundays too as I became preoccupied with the thought of another draining week ahead.
I thought I had to change, but then I realized, I just had to learn about who I truly am, embrace my strengths and styles, and find the right mindset and environment to thrive.
I don't think this is exclusive to introverts. Many extroverts would recognize the same frustrations, but often they could be minimized by vibrant social engagements at work. The plight of introverts is different. Nine Sources of Exhaustion at Work & What You Can Do About it!
Energy battery drains to empty. Everyone has an energy battery that drains from stressful, uncomfortable situations during the day and gets a boost from enjoyable activity. For us introverts, we need to keep a special eye on our battery gauge. Take short breaks (quiet walk, lunch alone, a bit of music, journaling, or meditation), especially before stressful meetings or social engagements. Plan breaks during your day and try not to overload any particular day with too many stressors - spread them out.
Not aware of or applying your strengths during the day. Introverts have many amazing strengths that need to be brought into the workplace. Many introverts possess less conventional strengths like creativity, listening, thoughtfulness, and preparation. Don't shy away from using these strengths. It is part of your comfort zone and actually your competitive advantage! You can learn about all your strengths and how to use and grow them through our free Introvert Superpower Quiz. Join over 1800 respondents - it could change your life!
Values are being challenged. Introverts in particular are often aware of our core values - what guides us to make good personal choices and tough work decisions. Sacrificing values is something that will stick with you for decades! It may not be so obvious as stealing or lying, but you could be asked to fudge some numbers, misrepresent a product, take advantage of a co-worker, or cover up a mistake, Know your values, and use and protect them. Be wary of whoever/whatever is asking you to violate them well before you question your own values.
Contentious conversations or meetings. Being thrown into a situation to have to defend a position on the fly or debate an aggressive co-worker, supplier, or manager is not fun. Differences do occur, but high-stress situations can often be avoided by building rapport in advance with key stakeholders and by heading off anticipated issues with a pre-emptive one-on-one chat to find common ground. Meeting pre-work is the most important component in successful meetings.
Key relationships sour. The most important relationship at work is with your manager, even more than co-workers or direct report staff. From your first day on the job, dedicate time to building rapport with your manager. Develop a joint communication plan (how involved does your manager want to be? how often do they want updates? how much autonomy are they providing? what are their key goals which you will want to help them deliver on?). If things go off-kilter, a well-prepared conversation may help re-align. Don't let this fester. This relationship can be smooth and supportive, or the source of headaches that last well after you head home from work.
Learning is fading. Introverts in particular enjoy learning. That's why many of us are voracious readers, watch documentaries, or surf the web. We can overcome the new job stress of building relationships because we have so many chances to learn about the job, tasks, background, strategy, and more. Eventually, that learning curve will naturally begin to flatten. Once it does, we can quickly feel bored and our energy level drops. Seek new learning opportunities. Perhaps new processes or business relationships will add spice to the job. Ask for new tasks to reinvigorate your day.
You are wearing a mask. Introverts often feel trapped between sharing their true self at work and conforming to the more verbose and social norms that society and most workplaces assert. Authenticity can feel risky and thus requires being vulnerable and brave to maintain. It often feels easier to go with the flow, but deep down we feel confused and violated. Our self-esteem drops when we don't feel we are good enough to share our true selves. Our internal anguish often surfaces in the form of rashes, backaches, and sciatica, overeating, or overdrinking. The difficult road requires determination, courage to share our introversion, and drive to assert our true strengths and views, no matter how awkward that might feel at first.
Homelife is not satisfying. I don't want to get too personal, but sometimes we can manage a long workday when we know we have exciting hobbies or family activities to look forward to. I find it best to have a combination of things to do alone, with a spouse, and with the full family. Introverts especially need solo hobbies like art, reading, writing, music, cooking, nature, meditation, journaling to unwind. It may be hard to carve out the time, but we need these outlets to balance our day. Invest in yourself!
No passion & purpose. We should all have passion or purpose in life that drives us every day. It doesn't have to be saving the world or purely altruistic. It can be that we like to lead others or deliver successful projects on time. Ideally, we get to spend most of our days in pursuit of our purpose or passion. If there is no sense of that at work, we may feel it is truly just a job, just a paycheck. While we all have bills to pay, life has to be about more than that. If we can't find that vigor at work, perhaps we can balance that off with some hobbies or community service activities after work. Find that passion and consider how you can incorporate it into many facets of your life.
Time to Score So how are you doing? How many of the 9 potential contributors to an exhaustive day are you experiencing? 1-3: Look to tweak some areas to bring more vigor into your day. 4-6: You have many gaps. Make it a priority to tackle your work environment. 7-9: It may be time for a job change to bring in new energy and a fresh start.
Life is too short and we spend too much time at work. If the environment is not right, it is not healthy for you or your family. I know. I spiraled down this very path for decades. Finally, I hit rock bottom. I was covered with red rashes across my face, suffered from sciatica, shingles, and obesity, and my energy at home was non-existent. At first, I thought I had to change, but then I realized, I just had to learn about who I truly am, embrace my strengths and styles, and find the right mindset and environment to thrive. Once I did, my life turned around in every way. Don't let exhaustion be a routine part of your day. You owe it to yourself!
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