I don’t know about you, but this time of year makes me feel quite fatigued… I’m not sure if it’s the holiday hustle, the weight of the year, or the daylight savings farce (it’s dark by 4 p.m. here in Oregon today), but it always gets me around this time. But this year was different; it was more than just the usual “tiredness” of the season. I realized I was exhausted.
Being an entrepreneur may be stressful, and we’re just human, so there’s a limit to how much we can take. There’s a good risk we’ll burn out between marketing, payroll, taxes, inventory, family, friends, holidays, taking care of ourselves, and the million other things on our plates. But, what if we could take steps to recharge and rejuvenate ourselves in order to avoid it?
I wanted to share my experience with burnout and strategies for recovering from it because it is so common among entrepreneurs. If you’ve been following my columns, you’re probably aware that the last few years have been difficult for me – both emotionally and professionally — and I believe it has now hit me. Hard.
My shoulders were constantly knotted, causing headaches, and my skin was terrible – and I mean terrible. Stress caused me to acquire a slight case of eczema on my face. I was irritated and fatigued, and I was generally exhausted.
I knew I needed some time off, but as every business owner knows, taking time off is difficult (not to mention, I just brought on three new clients … which is fantastic, but not ideal for taking time off). It’s a simple task, but it’s frequently unachievable. But I knew it was just going to grow worse if I didn’t take some time off. As a result, I automated as much as I could to ensure that things continued to function smoothly without me having to be as involved as I usually am. Plus, it being Thanksgiving week, so I expected things to be slow.
And it was incredible. I allowed my phone to die (gasp). Several occasions (double gasp). I’ve slept in a couple times until 10 a.m. – it’s been years (certainly before kids) since that happened!
I ate a lot more than usual and didn’t feel bad about it. I drank exquisite wines that I carefully selected and thoroughly liked. Instead of rushing through a pot of coffee for breakfast and eating lunch in front of my computer, I took the time to sip and eat slowly.
If you haven’t done so in a while, now is the moment. You’ve earned it! Find a means to automate as many things as possible, or have someone you trust take over, even if it’s only partially, while you recharge. I’m feeling revitalized and eager to take on the year 2022!
Here are some pointers to help you prepare for 2022 as well.
Make sure you understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. These past several weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about where I want my business to go in 2022, what I need to do to get there, and why I want to accomplish it. It was a fantastic exercise that significantly reduced my stress levels because I now had a very clear goal to work toward and could plan out how to get there.
Take a moment to consider your priorities. Then consider how much time you have. Are you able to get your priorities accomplished in the time you have? What needs to change if not? What can you do better? To get there, what do you need to add or let go of?
This allows you to focus on the aspects of your business that are most important to you, so you can stop wasting time, energy, and money on things that aren’t helping you achieve your goals. Do you wish you could spend more time with your loved ones? Do you wish to increase your earnings? Do you wish to expand your business this year by adding additional items or services? Figure out what they are and make a list of them. Then figure out what you’ll need to do to get there.
I let my phone dead several times, like I mentioned above, and it was incredible. I didn’t feel compelled to check my phone on a regular basis. When I heard a notification ding, I didn’t jump. I was able to spend quality time with my family. Don’t get me wrong: I continued to check my phone and react to messages when needed. But, unlike my poor tendency of allowing it to run my life, I didn’t let it. I knew there were occasions when I could just keep it off, and I managed to do so. It was fantastic.
Try letting your phone die now and then, or turning it off at 7 p.m. and unplugging for the remainder of the night. Also, avoid checking it first thing in the morning if possible. When that wasn’t the first thing I did in the morning, I saw a significant change. Seriously, unless you work in a field where crises occur frequently, give it a shot!
I hadn’t run or exercised in a long time because I had been sick and fatigued. Let’s face it, who wants to go for a run when they’re sick to their stomach and have a pounding headache? To be honest, I hadn’t run in a year and wasn’t looking forward to getting back out there. Because it had been so long, I knew it would be difficult.
But I’m glad I went through with it. It was unpleasant, but it served as a reminder of why I do what I do. I felt accomplished, I worked up a good sweat (which always feels good), and I was reminded that this is my area to be creative and dream big. When I’m jogging, I have a lot of thoughts. It’s just a pleasant feeling in general; it also aids in the loosening of the knot in my shoulder!
Go for it, whether it’s running, hiking, swimming, golfing, or anything else. Even if you can just fit it in for a few minutes. It’s incredible how much better it makes you feel. In the long run, it is also beneficial to your health. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Begin small. Have you been putting it off because you know it will be difficult? Stop second-guessing yourself and simply do it. Not just in your body, but also in your mind, you’ll notice and feel the difference!
4. Find mentors
This is a major one because becoming an entrepreneur may be a lonely road at times. There are just things that we go through that others may not be aware of. Have you considered hiring a coach? I’ve heard fantastic things about having a coach, but I’ve never tried it. There are a plethora of options available. Find one that will work for you by doing some study.
However, not everyone has the financial means or the inclination to pay a coach. If that’s the case, look for people to follow on social media who can provide inspiration and important information for you and your company. Gary Vaynerchuk and Lewis Howes, for example, are two people I follow closely. Both bring encouragement, inspiration (which we all need), and actionable business methods that I utilize in my own company! They don’t know who I am, but that’s fine; perhaps one day!
5. Connect with others
This is a significant issue. We can get so caught up in our work that we forget to relax and connect. You couldn’t make it to your yearly camping trip because you couldn’t get away? Perhaps you lost out on a wonderful beach excursion for the same reason. It’s natural that we have to miss out on certain things because we have so much on our plates, but we need to remember to be ourselves — not businesspeople.
So plan a fun activity with friends or family you haven’t seen in a long time. Perhaps you should plan a trip and what you’ll need to do to be able to take that time off. Or perhaps just a couple of cocktails to catch up. You’ll feel a lot better after that!