What We Can Learn From Willow Smith About Job Burnout

May 2, 2013  |  

Even a 12 year old knows when to take a step back from a job to just smell the roses and enjoy life. Willow Smith recently backed out of a big gig to star as Annie in a film produced by Marcy Media (Jay-Z’s company) and Overlook Entertainment. Overlook announced that Willow Smith would not be starring as Annie in the upcoming film because she was too old (she is now 12 and not the nine-year-old she was when it was first proposed). But her dad Will quickly set the record straight letting everyone know that no Smith ever gets canned and that there were other factors that lead to Willow’s departure from the film.

In an interview at Philadelphia’s Temple University, Mr. Smith stated:

“Willow was supposed to be doing ‘Annie.’ We got Jay-Z to do the movie, got the studio to come in, and Willow had such a difficult time on tour with ‘Whip My Hair’ and she said, ‘You know Daddy, I don’t think so,'” he recalled. “And I said, ‘Baby, hold up!’ I said, ‘No, no, no, listen, you’ll be in New York with all of your friends and Beyonce will be there. You will be singing and dancing.’ And she looked at me and said, ‘Daddy, I have a better idea. How about I just be 12?'”

Willow gets big props for being mature enough to know her limitations and to do something about it no matter what the pressures were from her parents, Jay-Z or anyone else. That’s more than I can say for many child actors or musicians that keep pushing themselves until they end up with a drug addiction or a deadbeat baby daddy and two kids.

Moreover, I think we can all learn something from little Willow. Many Americans spend so much time at work and thinking about work that even when they aren’t at work, their jobs can have a negative impact on their personal lives and lead to complete burnout.

The American Psychological Association’s Dr. David Ballard, described to Forbes magazine what job burnout is: “An extended period of time where someone experiences exhaustion and a lack of interest in things, resulting in a decline in their job performance… A lot of burnout really has to do with experiencing chronic stress.”

I can totally see where Dr. Ballard is coming from. Recently I allowed myself to be put under so much pressure at work that I became stressed and suffered from chronic tension headaches. At the time I wasn’t eating right, getting about four hours of sleep, and drinking boat loads of coffee. It all caught up to me.

Professionals at the Mayo Clinic say you should ask yourself the following questions to figure out if you are experiencing job burnout:

  • Have you become cynical or critical at work?
  • Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started once you arrive?
  • Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
  • Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
  • Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
  • Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
  • Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
  • Have your sleep habits or appetite changed?
  • Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, backaches or other physical complaints?

To combat burnout Dr. Ballard suggests that you take time to relax, cultivate a rich non-work life, and get plenty of sleep, among other things. I’d add that if these things fail due to the nature of the job or the company you work for, and it’s impacting your health, find a way to transition out of that job. Sometimes you have to know when you hold em’ and know when to fold em’, and your health is your number one priority. You might think you will lose money if you leave your job, but you will lose even more money if you are laid up in a hospital somewhere suffering from a medical condition as a result of stress.

Although we might not see much more of her until she concludes her hiatus, we should thank Willow Smith. Not only did she teach us how to whip our hair, she taught us how to put ourselves first and understand that sometimes you have to throw the deuces to a good opportunity to give yourself a chance to enjoy life.

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