Are You Going to Burn Out By Age 30?

I recently read this awesome article on that really caught my attention. It talks about how millennial women (aka my friends and me and you and your friends) are becoming more and more likely to hit the “burn out” point at work by age 30. As the piece says

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. Men are twice as likely as women to advance at each career transition stage. 

Basically, women start out strong but then don’t advance as quickly or as far in the corporate world as men. The article explains that this is probably for several reasons. It may be because women work really hard during high school and college and then they get out into the real world and just run out of steam.  The article includes this great quote from Kelly Cutrone (you may have seen her as LC and Whitney’s boss on The Hills)

“They need to learn life is a marathon, not a sprint,” says Kelly Cutrone, president of People’s Revolution PR and author of “If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You.”  

Another reason may be because women are harder on themselves and are less likely than men to take breaks during the day. The article points out that men are 25% more likely to take breaks throughout the day for personal activities and 35% more likely to take breaks “just to relax.”  Ladies, constant, non-stop, strenuous work days are not normal. Your mind and your body both need a break. When you work work work and don’t stop to eat, pee, think, laugh, or stare at the wall, this causes burnout. 

I loved this piece because I think it speaks a lot to my friends, the women I graduated with, and me. It talks about how when women used to get burned out they would just quit their jobs and/or get married and become stay-at-home moms. Now because of debt, marrying later in life, career goals, etc., this isn’t happening. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But we must find other ways to cope besides getting a ring and popping out kiddos. The article talks about how women are turning to yoga, therapists, and even psychics to feel better and to understand what exactly it is they’re looking for. Women also have to adjust goals they may have thought would undoubtedly bring them happiness. You can no longer assume that if you get the VP job you’ll be happy. 
You can no longer assume that if you get a job at your “dream company” you will automatically be happy. You have to find outside hobbies, broaden your horizons, continue to explore your own likes and dislikes, and understand that your life and your passions are constantly growing and changing as you do.

The things you wanted as a child, a high schooler, a college student, those things might not actually be what satisfy you as a working adult. When I was in high school and college I thought that all I wanted to do was be on TV. I quickly realized that I would enjoy being on TV, but I might want a more corporate job. Then I took a job in an office and had another realization: I want to work for myself. Then I found out (through starting this blog) that I actually really, truly love writing. I still haven’t given up on the TV thing, but I’m focused on the writing thing right now. Again, more changes from where I assumed I’d be when I was working towards a career during college. But I’m happier because I’ve discovered a passion and I’ve discovered what I do and don’t want out of a job.

If you let go and are free to explore, it will be easier to adjust and find happiness during life after college. Forcing yourself to stick to a black and white plan is a death sentence. Forcing yourself to figure it all out rightthisminute is unrealistic. When you graduate, it’s so easy to get frustrated and say “Why can’t I figure out what I want?” or “Well this definitely isn’t what I want, how am I going to get to where I want to be?” but, as this article emphasizes, if you remain your toughest critic you’re going to reach the “OH MY GOD GET ME OUT OF HERE!” point a lot faster than if you take it day by day, treat everything as a learning experience, and give yourself a break.

How do you approach the inevitable adjustment period that is life after college? Is where you are now where you thought you’d be during college? Where do you hope you’ll be in a few years? 

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  1. I saw this article and also loved it. It explains something that has happened to me and that I’ve seen and continue to see happen to so many of my friends. We all read this article and thought “okay, so it’s not just us!” I loved your thoughts on the article and the burnout phenomenon. It is so true that what we think will make us happy might be far from it… and what we actually find makes us happy is far from what we thought would. But it takes courage for a lot of women to admit that the thing they put so many years into, and worked so hard at, just isn’t it. A couple weeks before the Forbes article came out, I actually wrote a piece on my own experience with burnout here:—the-hustlr . I’m definitely not where I thought I’d be, but I’m so much happier here 🙂

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