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Could this be burn-out?

#1 Could this be burn-out?
27/04/2012 08:15

Arby the Manager

Hi All

I'm a senior manager within a top-tier consulting firm (not MBBB, but think the full services like Deloitte / Accenture). I've been here for 8 years, and have been consistently ranked as one of the highest performers - being fast-tracked to promotion. Now I'm responsible for two global projects, and I'm also the sales lead for a number of regions for the client.

For the past 8 years I have singularly dedicated myself to my career. Years have been spent travelling, hotels - flights. For the past 3 years I have had a local project where I'm luckily home everynight - however this has ironically had the effect where I work even longer to compensate for what I see as a relatively easy "deal" which my colleagues do not have. Needless to say I have no social life outside of work and no significant hobbies or interests. My career has been incredibly diverse - I've worked with some titans of industry, been to some amazing places and travelled to over 30 countries on a working basis, so I cannot say that I have been disappointed with life or what I have achieved, and I never assumed that this was anything out of the ordinary.

However now that my wife has recently had a baby, suddenly my perspective has changed. Being home every night I simply cannot work. The baby is handed to me as soon as I get through the door and I play with her etc. This has had the effect of making me realize what life could be like if I was in a career other than consulting.

Now the only analogy I can use is that of a marathon. I feel that I have taken a "break" mid-way through the marathon that is my career. And now I'm finding it impossible to start back up again. My enthusiasm has drained, I feel cynical and skeptical about what we're actually trying to do and fundamentally I'm no longer motivated by what I do every day. Or - to put it a different way - I'm no longer motivated to get back into the zone I have been in for 8 years.

I should point out that this is not a quick reaction to a life-changing event - it's something that has been steadily creeping up on me throughout the pregnancy, and is coming to a head now.

So - my question (finally) is whether others amongst you have experienced similar situations? If so, what were the results? What commentary / observations could you offer in this specific case?

Thanks, Arby

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#2 RE: Could this be burn-out?
27/04/2012 14:31

Mr Cool to Arby the Manager (#1)

You could call it burn-out, or you could call it growing up.

The reality is that the single or married-but-childless part of our lives are still fairly juvenile, allowing us to indulge ourselves in travel, adrenaline and fast-cars, fast-careers and occasionally fast-women (or whatever your preference).

Most consultants eventually tire of consultancy and its veneer of self-importance wrapped around a pyramid selling scheme. Most human beings settle down to enjoy the pleasures of a family. The arrival of your daughter has simply turned a gradient into a step and brought the matter to a head.

The fantastic news is that you are excellently placed to capitalise on an A1 CV. It is entirely likely that you could move directly to a client organisation with little or no loss of income, enjoy similarly challenging work, and yet get to enjoy your life. The danger is that you try to struggle through, getting worse and worse at your job and destroying the immense credits you currently enjoy. I have previously written at length on the importance of managing the credit and debit side of your career in consulting. Right now you have the highest credit balance you're likely to attain and the highest desire to spend it. Stay and you might find it being wiped out.

I speak from similar experience.

I rose quickly through the ranks and was a client manager by aged 28, selling a million a year. By 34 I managed the FS practice at a niche firm selling £5m a year. This was ten years ago and I was making 150k a year. The niche firm was acquired and I was then headhunted to a global firm to launch an IB practice. Six months in I could hardly face getting up in the morning such was the bull I was listening to every day. I quit, sold up completely and took a year out.

During that year I lost about two stone in weight, did some things I’d always wanted to, played football for a village team every Sunday, became fluent in a language - and most importantly became a dad (which I'm not ashamed to say had been very elusive during my high stress, mega travel life in consultancy).

When I returned to the market I determined not to buy back into the same old BS. I took a contract role way below my abilities, but through volunteering and positive attitude quickly moved from SME to Project Manager to Programme Manager and all the way back to Programme Director. For the last five years I've billed more than 200 days a year. Last year I took the whole of the school holidays off and went away with my wife and (now) two kids. Currently I'm running one of my banking clients top five programmes.

My client is desperate to reduce their ridiculous reliance on 1500 quid a day big4 joe-average-managers. In the last month they've hired two ex-consultant desperate to get out of consultancy. Hardly a week goes by that my boss doesn't ask me "do you know any other people like you that could replace these consultants?" They'll take perm or contract.

Management consultancy was fantastic for me. I loved it. It taught me loads. But when you tire of it, don’t walk away. RUN.

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#3 RE: Could this be burn-out?
27/04/2012 16:16

jonhill to Arby the Manager (#1)

Hello Arby,

I was searching through the web for different forums where professional men who are considering career or broader life changes discuss their situations, and came across your post. Hope you don’t mind, as I felt like I really wanted to get in touch.

I am a Career and Personal Development Coach, specialising in working with men who are re-considering their career options, and I’m currently conducting market research with people in your situation. I want to get a better feel for the kind of concerns that are most urgent for men who are at a transition point in their careers, especially if they have been in their chosen line of work for some time. Questions that arise for me are what triggered the realisation that it was time for a change; what obstacles do you perceive in trying to make that change; what efforts have you made to make changes already?

I’d love to chat to you about this, and would be extremely grateful if you would be willing to answer a few questions via e-mail. In return I’d offer you a free Coaching Consultation session.

My website is – you can find my contact details there.

Thanks for your time – hope to speak to you soon!


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#4 RE: Could this be burn-out?
13/05/2012 13:33

unizm1980 to Arby the Manager (#1)

It's not burn out. It's just a situation of scheduling your tasks. As a new father, it's your responsibility to be there for your family. But as an executive, it is your duty to complete the work given to you.

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