What to do when you are burned out on the job

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Almost anyone who has held a job knows the twinge of dread on Sunday evenings as the countdown to the workweek nears its final hours.

How do you know when you've crossed from a rough patch into a burnout?
Friday afternoon becomes the light at the end of a dark, five-day tunnel.

For most people, this is a momentary feeling that comes along when work is particularly stressful or when it's been too long since a vacation.

Unfortunately, that feeling doesn't disappear for many workers. If you can relate, then you might be burned out on your job.

"Most people will experience temporary periods of burnout or imbalance," says Jim Bouchard, author of "Dynamic Components of Personal Power." "Long periods of imbalance can be dangerous to your health, destructive to your relationships and can endanger your job."

How do you know when you've crossed from a rough patch into a burnout?
Burnout creeps up and you don't know until you're in the midst of it, says Dr. Todd Dewett, author of the book "Leadership Redefined."

"It does not happen overnight. It happens in tiny little chunks slowly. This is why it is difficult to read any given instance for what it is, let alone judge where you are in the process of becoming burned out."

If you're not sure whether you're just having a bad day or are experiencing something worse, here are some signs that you're burning out, according to Dewett:

• Your professional relationships don't matter anymore
If the breakroom chats and hallway conversations with your colleagues went from fun diversions to nonexistent, your heart is obviously not in the job anymore.

• The quality of your work isn't want it used to be
When you're disillusioned with your job, you're not going to perform to your best abilities. Maybe you don't notice the drop in quality or maybe you do notice but just don't care.

• Your're no longer goal-oriented

When your motivation is getting to the end of the day instead of getting that new job title, something's not right.

Recognizing that you're burned out is a good first step, but it won't mean much unless you take action to change the situation. Talk about it, both to yourself and to other people, Dewett suggests.

When you share your newfound realization with the important people in your life, you make a strong commitment to doing something about it, he says.

Here are some other ways to beat burnout:

Spice up your routine. Figure out what new responsibility you are capable and willing to assume and ask that it be given to you.
"You may have to apologize and/or show a rejuvenated effort at work in order to get what you are asking for," Dewett warns, "but do it because new variety and stimulation is vital to overcome burnout."

Rediscover your motivation. "Goals work. Be specific and set deadlines," Dewett recommends. Analyze each goal and figure out what skills you will gain, what new experiences you will have and whom you might meet.

"Make the goals at least modestly challenging, and feel free to share them with others to increase your commitment," Dewett encourages.

Have a plan. Create a list of skills you need to obtain, people you need to network with, financial items to take care of, and overall steps you need to take to get into a job or business that you are passionate about.

Sometimes you need to remove yourself from the situation if you want to make any progress. If your boss has written you off entirely, if you don't have the resources to improve your skills or you were never a fit for the job, Dewett says there's no way to work from within the system.

For example, if you're an accountant whose passion has always been photography and not numbers, you can't make yourself love your current job. So don't be afraid to make the jump to a better career.