The Overextended Life

Burnout is one of many psychological connections with work. People develop connections with their worklife that resonate with their experiences within those environments. Although fraught with change, workplaces actually have many stable qualities. For most people, going to work tomorrow is a whole lot like going to work yesterday. The nature of the work, management practices, and encounters with coworkers, bosses, or customers establish consistent pattern. Walking through similar patterns and responding to similar challenges establish enduring patterns. People experience a similar range of emotions and thoughts over time. Their relationships with other people and their sense of identity become integrated with their day-to-day worklife.

Over the next few weeks, I will describe some distinct psychological relationships with work. Eventually I will describe how these distinct patterns fit together into an overall perspective on worklife.

The starting point today is the Overextended pattern. This connection with work differs from burnout in some important ways. But more on that later.

Overextended people put a lot of energy into their work. They often are motivated by their dedication to what they do. They believe in the value of their work. They are confident that they are adept at doing what they do. The problem is that they are running out of steam. They often feel tired during their work day and they are certainly feeling tired a lot more often than they used to. The relationship problems that can arise are that people at work can become overly dependent on that intense energy while those outside of work may resent having to make do with the little left at the end of the work day.

The relevant subjective experiences defining this connection with work are:

    • energy,

    • dedication, and

    • confidence.

The relevant processes are:

    • intense work activities coupled with

    • weak recovery cycles.

These elements provide the initial elements of a framework for describing the universe of psychological connections with work. The next step will be using that framework to build action plans.

Leave a Reply