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In a recent study, it was found that there is a strong correlation between healthcare career burnout and unhealthy finances. In other words, if you are experiencing burnout in your career, it is also likely that your finances may also be suffering.
An insecure financial picture can keep you stuck in a toxic or highly stressful job and even contribute immensely to the deterioration of your mental health and wellness. In this blog post, we will discuss how to avoid the risk of unhealthy finances that may compound healthcare career burnout.
1. Your Money= Your Limited Life Energy
When it comes to career burnout and neglected finances, it can be a bit of a chicken and an egg situation. Which came first? Although it may not be unclear to you which came first, what matters more is how one depends on the other.
There are a few key things that you can do to avoid deteriorating finances when life becomes overwhelming. The first is to befriend your money and think of your finances as an extension of your life energy and a barometer of your capacity to overcome unforeseen stress.
In the case of burnout, one of the most common symptoms is emotional exhaustion. This may feel like a tiredness that is hard to shake, even with rest.
In this state, you may feel depleted in your everyday life. This can force you to level up on your use of convenience technology & outsource tasks you would normally handle like cooking or cleaning and opting for ordering out or hiring a house cleaner or laundry service through an app.
You may even find yourself needing to spend more cash, simply because you may have more of a need to dissociate and seek comfort above else as another side effect of your burnout.
So your expenses start to creep up. To feel better you decide to add more streaming services and stop cooking & ordering out more. You stop exercising but continue to pay an expensive membership fee, opting instead for more trips to the liquor store.
In your hypo-serotonergic state, you may even feel fully justified shopping more & frequently indulging in retail therapy because these days it takes more effort to extract joy from life, and albeit shortlived, this gives your brain a much-needed dopamine buzz.
However, consider that as more money leaves your grasp the more youll have to work your current job to mainatin that level of expenditure. If your job is the primary source of your unhappines or burnout this may make you feel helpless and stuck.
Remeber this: the more money you keep, the more choices you have to pay your way out of any situation that keeps YOUR energy levels and/or wellness at a deficit.
2. Set Up Your Safety Net
Once you befriend your money and consider it an extension of your life energy, the first order of business is then, is to maintain a financial safety net with an emergency fund. This way if you ever find yourself feeling burned out you can take the time you need to recover, and/ or leave any job that caused you to be burned out in the first place.
There are a few strategies for saving and the most effective is whichever one you can sustain long term. Try not to overthink it.
You can do it slowly by putting away some of each paycheck, or you can choose to go fast either by increasing your income or by dramatically reducing your spending. In this gig economy, you can also opt to get a side hustle to hasten your savings rate, but I caution you against adding more to your plate if you're already feeling limited in energy and time in your life.
A good rule of thumb is If you have a steady income opt for 3-6 months of savings, more if your income is unpredictable.
3. Heal First, Then Burnout-Proof Your Finances
Once you have an emergency fund plan in motion, then it's time to get real about where you are on the burnout scale and what YOU need to heal. Do you have a healthcare hangover or is it full-blown burnout?
When it comes to healing your burnout, it helps to start to think in terms of: "If money was no object."
So if money was no object what kinds of things would you need to do to get back to feeling great?
Is it taking a sabbatical, working less, changing careers or retirement? The only right answer is the one that suits you.
I no longer subscribe to the idea of postponing enjoying my life to the fullest until retirement, and my financial plan reflects that. Having suffered from burnout AND the fear of financial instability, my finances are set up in such a way that keeping a job that burns me out or I do not enjoy will never trap me again
This is what I want for you too.
4. Make a Financial Plan to Fund your Dream Life
Once you get your healing plan in motion and you are consistently saving, it's time to start planning how you're going to fund your dream life in the long term.
Understand that until you heal and create more bandwidth, your acute burnout will keep you in survival mode and you may not have the energy or even the ability to begin to make these kinds of plans.
If this is you, give yourself some grace, take your time and heal. Prioritize returning to yourself before this step and come back to it anytime.
Once you are ready first, get clear on what you really want your life to look like.
Start with the end in mind and work backward.
Consider that the regular savings rate for retirement for people in the US is 10% of their income for an average retirement age of 65.
If you want to retire much sooner, all you have to do it bump up your rate of investments so get there faster.
For example, Kelly wants to be work-optional at 55 and have an annual retirement income of $100,000 from her retirement accounts.
To do that she needs to invest 40% of her income in retirement accounts,$X by the time she is 51 years old. Then you can begin to invest in a way that will get you there.
Check out my personal finance reading list to learn more about Financial Independence and Retiring Early.
5. Your Life Energy as Assets vs. Liabilities
Let's go back to the concept of your money=your limited life energy. Consider energetic assets to be the things that GIVE you life energy. Things like quality rest, enjoying time with loved ones, meaningful relationships, passion projects, hobbies, body movement, or whatever else fills your cup & give you sustainable joy.
Inversely consider energetic liabilities things that TAKE AWAY your life energy. Some examples can be toxic relationships, jobs, or friendships, lacking boundaries with yourself and others when it comes to what you allow and say yes to, disease, addiction, etc.
Now consider burnout a state in which your energetic liabilities supersede your energetic assets.
Your long-term wellness and happiness, therefore, depend on the tipping of the scales towards your assets > than liabilities. However, this will require proactively balancing out that equation & making some shifts in your life that will favor your longevity.
Doing so systematically and consistently over time will eventually free you from any current energetic liabilities you may have and allow your life energy to be completely independent of those liabilities.
Your money works the exact same way. Positioning your finances the same way will allow you to move towards complete financial independence, therefore freeing you from ever having to fully depend on any one job to fund your dream life.
In order to become financially independent, you must first understand the difference between an asset and a liability in the financial sense.
An asset is anything that grows and keeps putting money in your pocket. A liability is anything that doesn't grow and takes money out of your pocket.
The goal is to have more assets than liabilities.
Some people think that their home is an asset, but if you have a mortgage it is actually a liability.
The same goes for cars, clothes, and any other material possessions that lose value over time.
True assets are things like rental properties, stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.
These are all things that have the potential to grow in value over time AND generate passive income that you can collect without having to clock in or directly exchange time for money.
6. Financial Independence: The Key to Avoiding Burnout FOREVER
The path to financial independence is in setting things up so that your money makes money. When you reach a point where the return on your investments is able to fund your desired lifestyle, independent of whether you work or not- you have achieved Financial Independence or FI.
This means that you will have the freedom to walk away from any situation that is no longer in alignment with you. It can also mean that you work purely for pleasure doing something you really love to do, travel or even not work at all.
7. Take Home Points
Career burnout is can be a symptom of not doing enough of the things you would rather be doing, but sometimes an unhealthy relationship with your finances can keep you stuck in sub-optimal situations in life.
Heal, befriend your finances, and do not wait until you are on your deathbed to start living your life and doing more of the things you want to do, with the people you want to do it with.
You can have it all much sooner if you learn to be intentional with your finances. You are only ONE personal finance book away from learning how to do it yourself.
I highly recommend this one to start with: Your Money or Your Life
So there you have it. These are the steps that you can take to avoid career burnout and unhealthy finances, and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
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This blog post provides personal finance educational information & is not intended to provide legal, financial, or tax advice. All of the content of this blog post is my opinion not that of my employer, affiliates, or business partners.