Learning something new can reinvigorate your work. Try this 30 day challenge to reduce burnout and feel more energized.
When was the last time you acted on a curiosity?
Laurie Ruettimann, HR leader and author of “Betting On You: How to Put Yourself First and (Finally) Take Control of Your Career”, says that this just might be the solution to “The Great Quit.”
But before we get to the solution, let’s recap where we are with the problem. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover report’s latest finding tell us that a record 4.5 million workers left their jobs in November of 2021 alone — with The Harvard Business Review sharing that employees between the ages of 30 and 45 years old have had the greatest increase in resignation rates. Why such an increase in dissatisfaction with the mid-level management segment of the workforce?
Laurie has a theory: she shares leader dissatisfaction is higher than ever — mid-level managers are responsible for dealing with their team’s burnout, while also dealing with their own.
The result? Seeking out “greener grass” at a different organization. Many burnt out workers have turned to the “grass must be greener” mentality in hopes that a job change would help with their dissatisfaction, but the hard truth Laurie shares is: “You fix work by fixing yourself first. There’s no cavalry coming — it’s you and you alone.”
“You fix work by fixing yourself first. There’s no cavalry coming — it’s you and you alone.”
The science behind learning something new
If it’s up to us to fix our burnout — what are we to do? Laurie suggests trying something new (at or outside of work).
In most cases, employees are settled into a comfort state at work that prevents them from feeling energized and fulfilled. Learning a new skill or trying something brand new is a quick way to jumpstart your brain into feeling more energized.
There’s literally science behind this phenomenon — according to a study done by the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology in 2020, “novel stimuli” (AKA, something new) activates dopamine in the brain. Not only does that dopamine cause satisfaction and motivation, it also helps you learn faster, according to the study.
Taking on a new skill activates dopamine in the brain, decreases stress and negative emotions, and increases confidence at work.
Another study from the Society of Behavioral Medicine found people who participate in hobbies or leisure activities are less stressed, experience fewer negative emotions, and actually lower their heart rate during said activity. As an added bonus: participating in a creative hobby (think: painting, playing musical instruments, dancing, etc.) has a direct correlation with your ability and confidence to complete work-related tasks, according to a study done at Drexel University.
The 30 day challenge
Ready to learn something new? Laurie challenges her community to commit to learning something new within the next 30 days. If it sounds daunting, it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few tips and resources to get you started without too much hassle:
- Look at what you already have. Is there an instrument you’ve had for years you’ve never made time to master? Is a DSLR camera lying around your house collecting dust? Did you buy paint for your kid’s art project and they only used the palette once? Consider starting with materials and items you already have to save costs, time, and decision-fatigue.
- Get some help. You don’t have to learn it all on your own. Turn to resources like YouTube, Skillshare, or Masterclass to get you on the right track.
- Make it a group activity. If you need a little extra motivation, ask some friends to join you and hold yourselves accountable to giving each other weekly updates. If you’re a busy parent, consider picking an activity you can share with your partner, children, or even pets.
- Embrace the journey. Know learning something new is going to be a little messy, non-linear, or challenging. Embrace the journey knowing your new learning will motivate and energize you in your life, and in your work.
For more of my interview with Laurie Ruettimann on how learning something new can reinvigorate your work, please tune in to POPS! The People Ops Podcast, and be sure to share us with a friend!