Surviving Corporate Burnout and Designing a Career You Love

Barb Garrison
5 min readSep 18, 2021


How do you react when something unexpectedly “bad” happens to you? Chances are, at first, it’s not positive. That’s totally normal. However, the sooner you can move through your initial reaction, the sooner you can begin to rebuild… and even discover the hidden gift in what has happened. EVERYTHING that happens to you has a hidden gift!


What is your first thought? How do you react in the following days, hours and weeks?

Most of us would consider this “bad news.” However, I hold the belief that absolutely everything that seems like bad news at the outset can actually have something positive hidden within it.

I know this from personal experience AND from my experience as a Career Coach.

Life is about the opportunity to grow into the fullest expression of our potential. So when something feels painful or a difficulty emerges, I immediately trust that there’s a hidden gift somewhere in the situation and begin keeping my eyes and ears open to see how it may emerge.


(These steps also apply once you start realizing how unsatisfied you are in your current job, role, company, industry, etc. and you want to devise an action plan, so not just when you lose a job.)


Allow yourself to actually feel all the uncomfortable emotions that come up. You may feel anger, resentment, sadness, self-doubt, disappointment, fear, anxiety… The list goes on. The key here is to give yourself a time frame. Literally say OUT LOUD: I will be upset for ____________. I recommend giving yourself anywhere between a day or two to a week. During this time, give yourself full permission to mope around, cry, stay in bed with your head under the covers, punch a pillow, or go for a “screaming drive.” Engage in anything (or nothing) that allows you to deeply feel your emotions. It’s ok. We’ve ALL been there.

You may even find that you get tired of feeling this way before your predetermined time span has arrived. And if you don’t, that’s ok, too.


Ask yourself:

What is this situation asking me to do that I wanted/needed to do anyway?

There is undoubtedly some door that has been opened, something that is now possible that may not have been possible if this “bad” news had not come along.

A great way to approach this question is with inquiry writing. Inquiry writing is a type of journaling that helps you gain clarity and insight. In this case it can help you discover what you’re being invited to do that you didn’t have the courage to do yourself. Instead of thinking something has happened TO you, look for the ways it has actually happened FOR you. Your aim is to discover what this situation is HELPING you accomplish. Think about the strengths or talents you have that have been dormant in your previous position. This can provide some clues to how to move forward. Write an open ended question you have at the top of a blank piece of paper and set a timer for fifteen minutes. Just start writing by hand (don’t type) everything that comes to mind, no matter how silly or irrelevant it might sound. No editing or attention to punctuation allowed! Just continue letting it flow out.

You can come back at another sitting to do again with a different question, or if you’re in the flow, keep writing or writing down questions like this until some clarity starts to emerge or you’ve discovered hints about the hidden gift. It may take some time. And it’s possible you won’t see the gift until the situation is behind you, so patience is required.

Just trust it’s there somewhere and don’t forget that learning is a BIG hidden gift.


Once you’ve gained some clarity, start to compose a plan for how to move forward. Don’t rush into this. Trust yourself to know when the time is right to start this step. Maybe you have come to terms with the fact that you were not happy with your job anyway, and the company did you a favor by ending it for you. Maybe you’ve decided you want to go back to school, or that you want to work toward gaining experience in another field. Now is the time to brainstorm and be creative. Don’t limit yourself. Consider multiple strategies.


Micro-movements are a great way to break a big project down into smaller pieces to make it more manageable. A micro-movement takes about 15 minutes (or less) to complete. Here are some examples of micro-movements:

  • Set-up an appointment with someone in the field you want to learn more about.
  • Tidy up your work area so you feel more organized and motivated.
  • Do some research. Get curious.
  • Make a phone call to find out more about the next steps you need to take.
  • Make notes about the valuable qualities, skills and experience you already have that will support your confidence and interviewing skills.

It’s a good practice to check off three micro-movements a day that get you closer to your final goal. Most people can pretty easily hold three things in their memory plus this won’t overwhelm you.

One way to keep yourself focused on your micro-movements is to write them down on a sticky note each night. Then stick it on your computer screen so you’ll see them first thing in the morning and be less inclined to get distracted before you get them done. It’s ideal to get them completed relatively early in your day before the speed and responsibilities of your day start to increase.

No matter what, the most important thing to keep in mind when you’ve gotten challenging news is that there is always a hidden gift so don’t give up until you’ve discovered it!

Is your work situation uncertain or frustrating you? Are you without a job or wisely thinking a current furlough may be just the hidden gift to start exploring work you’re truly meant to do? Do you hate your job, but have no idea what to do instead? Attempting to navigate those waters without support is not fun (yes, I do know, but that’s another story). I’m excited to announce that I’ve created The Job I Love Toolkit, with all the resources you’ll need to finally clarify how to get paid to do you.TM To be the first to hear more details, join the join the VIP Wait List.

And if you know a friend or neighbor who could use hearing the advice in this article or needs The Job I Love Toolkit, please forward this to them.



Barb Garrison

Helping burned out, success-driven professionals design careers that make them leap out of bed, even on Monday mornings.