People First HR Services

Are You Running on Empty?

Bev Braun-Allard

Do you ever feel like you’re running on empty? I think it can happen to all of us when things get really crazy at work, or over the holiday season when there’s lots to do and so many people to see. It can even happen to us simply in day to day living.

Sometimes you can feel like you’re running on empty in your career, too. It’s a shame we don’t have a little light that goes on (like our cars do) to tell us when it’s time to refuel. Or do we? If you’re paying attention to how you feel – to your energy level, your engagement level – you probably know when it’s time. The question is, do you act on it? In my experience, many people know the warning light has come on and don’t do anything about it.

Might be a good idea to make 2016 the year you change that. If your warning light has been on for a while, here’s a few simple ideas how you can recharge before you run out of fuel altogether and get stranded at the side of the road.

  1. Look after yourself physically. Your physical state will affect your emotional state at work.Running on EmptyResist the temptation to deal with stress by eating chips and chocolate! Eat healthy foods instead. Instead of falling on to the couch in front of the TV as soon as you get home, push yourself to get active. When you’re stronger physically, you’ll be better equipped to deal with the things in your career that are making you feel like you’re running on empty.
  2. Try to isolate what’s making you feel like your tank is being drained. Pull yourself away from the emotional side to take an objective look at what’s happening or perhaps what’s missing. Are you feeling overwhelmed by workload?  Maybe you aren’t getting the amount of feedback you need so you’re not sure if you’re on track. Once you’ve isolated the cause, come up with solutions to tackle it. For instance, if you’re not feeling challenged at work, come up with creative ideas on how you enrich your role in order to energize you and add value to your department at the same time. You’ll find you’ll have more energy as soon as you start doing something about the problem.
  3. Talk to someone about how you’re doing. A conversation with your boss, a mentor, or someone else in your professional network may give you a fresh perspective. Talking to someone you trust can often help you sort through the situation and gain clarity on how to handle it. Remember, whatever the situation, to keep the conversation professional to preserve your reputation.
  4. Do something for you! For me, a simple walk in the woods or cross country skiing at Grand Beach http://www.ccsam.ca/snow-reports/interlake/grand-beach-provincial-parks/ can be very therapeutic – it refuels a part of me that I need in order to have clarity to go forward. Find the something for you that will help you to refuel and refocus, and try to engage in that activity regularly.

In this year ahead, make it a point to keep your eye on your warning light. Pay attention every day to what’s happening and how you’re feeling – in your career, and personally. The sooner you notice you’re being drained, the sooner you can address it. The sooner you refuel, the stronger you’ll be to tackle the challenges ahead.

My best to you in 2016.