My personal experience with burnout
Ten years ago, I reached the point of full-on work related burnout.
The amazing, fulfilling work I had cared deeply about for almost a decade felt pointless.
I was irritable and impatient at the office, and would often withdraw and isolate myself from my co-workers.
I had difficulty focusing on my work, and felt like I had been drained of all of my energy.
Looking back, I can see clearly I had classic symptoms of burnout - sudden behaviour change, withdrawal, difficulty concentrating, irritability and exhaustion, just to name a few.
I didn’t know what was happening to me then, and didn’t really have the words to describe it - and unfortunately, my employer wasn’t able to recognize the signs either.
Things have changed in the decade since - burnout is now officially recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO), and the responsibility for managing and preventing burnout is slowly shifting away from the individual and towards the organization.
Unfortunately, what hasn’t changed is the stigma surrounding burnout. And with burnout at an all-time high thanks to the stress of the pandemic and the pressures of remote work, recognizing the signs and supporting employees has become more important than ever.
Earlier this year, I had a meaningful conversation with Dr. Adia Gooden, a licensed clinical psychologist, about the crucial connection between self-compassion and fundraiser burnout.
We discussed what organizations can do to shift their culture, and role-model and encourage greater self-compassion within their teams, as well as how fundraisers and nonprofit leaders can cultivate this important skill.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of burnout like I was, I hope you will reach out to a trusted colleague, friend or loved one to get the support you need.
Because I’m here to tell you - no matter how pointless things may seem right now, and now matter how exhausted you feel, there IS light at the end of the tunnel, and life after burnout!
Emma Lewzey, CFRE is an award-winning fundraising expert
with 20+ years experience raising millions of dollars across the arts, education, health and human services sectors. If you want to raise more 5, 6 and even 7-figure donations your non-profit, you can download Emma’s free Blueprint for Major Gift Success, and learn the 4 crucial steps to raising big gifts (at any size shop!)