I recently had lunch with a Wall Street C-suite executive. The guy has spent the last twenty years working his socks off to get to where he is today, which let's face it, is a pretty cushy position.
You would think that his success would drive him to keep working, but on the contrary, this guy told me that he was completely burned out.
After working 24/7 for decades, he needs a break.
To combat this burnout, he's taking three months off to spend time with his kids, meditate and live completely off the grid.
He's lucky to be in a position to do this, his company was completely understanding and accommodating when he explained what he was going through.
I think a lot of people when they reach their 40s and 50s feel completely burned out. The unfortunate thing is that those are prime working years, the heyday of your career, the years when all your decades of education and climbing the corporate ladder all pay off. As the saying goes, your 20s and 30s are for learning, your 40s and 50s are for earning!
This got me thinking: Should more companies offer sabbaticals for people going through burnout? Remember Arianna Huffington's mission of making people take more time for themselves after she collapsed from exhaustion.
I raised this question with my LinkedIn followers and here's what some of them said:
Fresh from taking her sabbatical Rachel Phillips emphasized the importance of taking a break from the grind. "It has been great to reevaluate what it is that I want next. At 37, I now see how important vacations are, time away from the office, and those moments with family - you can't ever get any of them back, you can only create them."
The unfortunate fact is that a lot of folks are unable to afford to take time off. Meanwhile, some organizations cannot accommodate these demands. Erin Wild made this point: "I think some people find themselves quitting their jobs because a lot of companies do not offer tools to help their employees going through burnout."
"People should never stay with a job that burns them out," says Sharon Messina. "It's so sad to settle for that in life. There are so many options out there. The money is just not worth the stress and health issues brought on. And even more unfortunate, most who go through this don't make enough money to take the time off."
While Simon Erskine Locke made the point that burnout may be caused by working for the wrong reasons; "people end up doing things they don't love just for a paycheck. This takes a toll. Edison said 'I never worked a day in my life. It was all fun.' It may not all be fun for most of us, but when we're feeling burned out, we need to ask if we are doing what we want to do with our lives. And then start doing it."
Some readers pointed out that the company itself should bear more responsibility for the health of their employees as Laurence Douglas points to. "So many of us don't take care of ourselves while putting the company's interest ahead of ours. Such dedication should be not only supplemented with time to recuperate but also rewarded."
Jackie Vanover argues that it's not just work that can burn you out at this stage of your life. Life can throw a lot of challenges at you in your 40s and 50s. For many, this is when a lot of kids hit the difficult middle school years and when our own parents start to need looking after. In Jackie's words, a "tsunami of life events" just hits you, and this demand can be impossible to juggle with a job.
What do you guys think, would you take time off to combat burnout or have you any other solutions?