You Don’t Have To Do The Mid-Career Burnout (Like Everyone Else In Academia)
Regardless of which academic system you work in, professors all strive for tenure or the promotional equivalent, that brings safety and stability to their position at their institution. But getting tenure will not solve feelings of overwork or a clogged publication pipeline. Anything you are struggling with pre-tenure will follow you through the course of your career if you don’t intervene now!
In today’s episode, I dig into how the mid-career slump happens and what to do about it depending on where you are in your career. The stress and pressure of reaching tenure is overwhelming. It leads to overwork and a constant push to publish. However, working all hours is unsustainable and leads to inevitable burnout and even questioning whether academia is the place for you.
So tune in and learn how to avoid (or fix) the mid-year slump!
How the Mid-Career Slump Happens
In mid-career or right before tenure, much focus is spent on trying to prove yourself worthy of staying at the institution. This translates to completing as much work as possible. You write and publish as much as you can. It is the perfect recipe for burnout.
In academia, there is already a culture of overwork, and in yearning for the safety of tenure, you can overwork yourself even more. There is a common thought that you just need to work hard now, get tenure, and then take a breath. Unfortunately, all the problems you deal with pre-tenure follow you into tenure, and at some point, you collapse.
What to Do About the Mid-Year Burnout
Avoiding Burnout in Pre-Tenure
To avoid mid-year burnout, you need to start making choices differently now. You will disappoint people at every career stage. So instead of worrying about not achieving tenure, focus on making scholarly choices that align with your academic vision for your post-tenure season. You need more than tenure to make your position safe.
Fix Ongoing Mid-Year Burnout
If you are already in the grip of midyear burnout, it’s time to realign. Take a big-picture look at your career and realign your activities so that they align with what kind of scholar you want to be. Everyday activities add up to the career. If you’re hanging onto the job but hating the daily activities, it’s the wrong career, or you’re doing it in a way that will not be sustainable. So if you are in a mid-career slump right now, it is time to realign and do some deep thinking about what you want from this career because only when you can articulate what you want can you make it happen for yourself.
“What many people who are thinking about when they’re thinking about applying for tenure is that they need to show this institution based on their criteria – which can sometimes be super explicit, sometimes more implicit – that they should be a permanent member of their faculty.”
“There’s a lot of pressure in early career and a lot of pressure pre-tenure, and all of that pressure is undergirded by this belief that you will only be safe to make the choices that you want to make in your career once you get tenure. That yearning for safety or working really really hard for safety will lead many many people to overwork.”
We will run one last cohort of Elevate this 2023 (after that, we’re retiring the program) . Check out the program details and get on the waitlist here.
CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION:
- Our 12-week Navigate: Your Writing Roadmap® program helps tenure-track womxn and nonbinary professors to publish their backlog of papers so that their voice can have the impact they know is possible. Get on the waitlist here!
- Cathy’s book, Making Time to Write: How to Resist the Patriarchy and Take Control of Your Academic Career Through Writing is available in print! Learn how to build your career around your writing practice while shattering the myths of writing every day, accountability, and motivation, doing mindset work that’s going to reshape your writing, and changing academic culture one womxn and nonbinary professor at a time. Get your print copy today or order it for a friend here!
- Want to train with us for free on your campus? Now you can when you recommend our Scholar’s Voice Faculty Retreats to a decision-maker on your campus! Download the brochure with the retreat curriculum and both in-person and online retreat options here.
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