You slog through school to get into the University that you’ve always dreamt about. You get the course you want but struggle through exams in the meantime. Degree secured, the heavy task of finding the right job now looms over your head.
With fewer jobs and fruitful competition, young people are more eager than ever to impress future employers and get a head-start on the Almighty career ladder. But relentless working hours and pressure to succeed at a young age mean that, more often than not, young people find themselves feeling sluggish, tired, and less enthusiastic about a job that was once considered a dream. The old saying goes that hard work never killed anyone, but are young people being pushed to breaking point too early?
Aside from not having much time to enjoy the things that people should actually be doing in our twenties (i.e. self-exploration, travel, adventure, fall in love several times etc.), burning out too young can have a severe impact on future prospects; particularly so for women. According to Forbes, these early career flameouts are reflected through the corporate ladder. Today, 53% of corporate entry-level jobs are held by women, a percentage that drops to 37% for mid-management roles and 26% for vice presidents and senior managers, according to McKinsey research.
The average Irish person works on average 22.5 hours per week, but this figure often rises between 39 and 48 hours. While our work week seems (and feels) incredibly long we actually rank pretty low for our working hours compared to other European countries and the US. For instance, the average number of hours worked in Germany is 20.2 hours, in Portugal, the average comes in at 22.7 hours, and Americans work an average of 26.1 hours per week.
In a bid to improve the mood of the people of Sweeden, the Sweedish Government recently decided to decrease the working day from eight hours to six hours; increasing productivity levels and moral.
Our society is in a state of flux at the minute: our world was once very used to (and very comfortable with) women opting for marriage and family instead of education and a career. Now, we’re finding more women are competing for jobs that were once only dominated by men. But increased third level education means higher loans, and more hours worked in order to pay off unwanted debt; all of which add’s fuel to the unstable fire burning within most young Irish people adding to increased levels of fatigue and stress.
So, how do we stop young professional women from burning out too quickly? There is no answer right now, and we can only continue to encourage women to chase their dreams. Worried you might be on the verge of burning out? Here are things to be mindful of when coordinating through a busy lifestyle.
Signs you might be burning out
When it stops being fun, stop doing it. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a waitress, or you work in advertising, when it starts to feel more like intolerable labour and less fun, that’s when you know that it’s time for a change.
You have more unread Whatsapp messages than you’ve had hot dinners. When work starts to impede on your personal life between friends and family then it’s time to step back and rebalance. Achieving a healthy work/life balance can be tedious but once you’ve found a balance your life should become more harmonious.
Disrupted sleeping patterns. Having night terrors about work? Revert back to point number 1.
Deteriorated health or stress-related problems. Feeling levels of stress is normal and healthy and promotes higher levels of alertness as well as behavioural and cognitive performance according to a study performed at Berkely University. Acute and prolonged amounts of stress, however, can lead to serious health issues. Train your body and mind to switch off from work and your hectic life for 30 minutes to sit, breathe, and relax. Your mental and physical health will thank you.
Your blood-to-coffee ratio out of whack. If your body relies on caffeine to get you through your working day it’s time to rethink and recalibrate what you’re doing. Organise a meeting with your superior to talk about time management, and if you’re self-employed it might be worth cutting back on your workload.