Burnout, 4 Ways to Handle It: (Kingston’s Journey #51)
Looking Back On ‘Down on One Knee’ Eps. 1
Has it really been 50 episodes? I still remember Episode 1, “Down on One Knee.” In a nutshell I said I felt burnt out, teaching English to Thai teens. Lessons were monotonous, I don’t have the personality to teach and it was tiring pretending to be someone I’m not. I was beginning to understand why some of the teacher sit down for their classes and seemed less then passionate about their profession. As well as feeling much of the time and effort I put in being wasted as it seemed many of them didn’t care.
So what is burnout? Well in simple terms its what you are putting in is yielding less return. You’re not getting what you used to get and its frustrating you. All the work being put in and not getting a proper reward is tiring.
And what can you do about it? As burnout relates to input/output that is, the input has been consistent or increasing while the output has declined, it’s a matter of changing the ratio of the input/output equation:
- You can either decrease the input and get the same output (or close enough to it).
- Maintain the input but angle it in a way that dramatically increases the output (in other words, an internal pivot)
- A combination of both
- Shut it down ad find a new mountain top
First option of decreasing input, well I say it in Eps. 1 where some of the teachers sat down for their teaching, seemed emotionally disengaged, put less thought into their lessons by going on autopilot and just overall less effort. They still get paid same, that output remains consistent. The kids that don’t care still don’t no matter the teacher’s effort (to be cynical about it). The kids that are good will continue being so (though they’ll never see you as the best teacher, a Mr. Pau) The only big difference are the ones in the middle that could have been inspired aren’t because of the decreased effort.
With the first option you could also hire someone to do the job for you and with the decreased effort focus on something else.
Option 2 of maintaining the input but increasing output, it’s an internal pivot. Let’s say Michael Jordan instead of going from basketball to baseball, he could have learned a different position in basketball (point guard, center). Or with teaching, teach a different age group.
Option 3 would be a combination of options 1 and 2.
With Option 4, you wind down what you’re doing and look for some other mountain to climb. This is what I did, I finished out the term, did everything I could conceivably think of to help those kids with the time remaining, got some feedback and left on fairly good terms.
The 4th option is not easy, as it means parting ways for good and looking for something else that could be better or worse amidst chaos. It means letting go. But sometimes if you love a chapter of your life and love the people that were with you on that journey, you need to let it go. Rather then tainting that section with a tired mediocrity, leave on a high note.
Kingston S. Lim
May 6, 2020