As a small business owner, it’s easy to feel like the weight of the world is firmly placed on your shoulders. And while this isn’t entirely true, it’s important that you set up systems and mechanisms for relieving undue pressure and finding joy in your work.
What is Burnout?
Burnout is a word that gets casually tossed around with great frequency and flippancy, but what exactly is it?
According to wellness coach Elizabeth Scott, “Burnout is a reaction to prolonged or chronic job stress and is characterized by three main dimensions: exhaustion, cynicism (less identification with the job), and feelings of reduced professional ability. More simply put, if you feel exhausted, start to hate your job, and begin to feel less capable at work, you are showing signs of burnout.”
Job burnout is overwhelmingly common among employees, but what about business owners. Are you prone to burnout as well? The answer is a resounding yes.
Burnout doesn’t typically crop up out of nowhere and trip you up. It’s generally a slow, drawn-out process that begins with warm, smoldering coals and flourishes into a rampant wildfire.
At first, burnout will feel like boredom and a lack of energy, but you push through. Then that boredom turns into apathy, which snowballs into carelessness and foolish mistakes. Before you know it, you dread getting up in the morning and you trade afternoon sales calls in for a round of golf. And the more burned out you become, the more guilty you feel. Stress leads to anxiety, which can eventually translate into depression.
According to Mayo Clinic, consequences of job burnout can include excessive stress, fatigue, insomnia, sadness, anger, irritability, alcohol misuse, heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and a suppressed immune system that makes you more susceptible to sickness and disease.
It’s not always immediately clear what the cause of burnout is. But once a person digs into the underlying factors and gets to the root of the problem, a few specific culprits
will become obvious.
4 Ways SBOs Can Avoid Burnout
If you feel burnout creeping in – or you’re worried that it could emerge at some point – it’s important that you take proactive measures to evade this cancerous disease. Here are a few practical suggestions:
1. Take Care of Yourself
In most cases, there’s a connection between job burnout and a lack of self-care. Each issue feeds the other – often creating a vicious cycle that accelerates negative consequences.
If you aren’t caring for yourself, it’s time to make some changes. Specifically, you should:
- Make sleep a bigger priority. Not only do you need to get seven or eight hours of sleep per night, but you need to get quality REM sleep that helps your body heal and recover.
- Get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. Preferably, this exercise should come in the middle of the day when you’re able to get the most out of the benefits.
- Improve your diet and correct any imbalances or nutritional deficiencies that you may have. If you can’t get all of the necessary vitamins and nutrients from your diet, try liquid extracts made from whole-plant herbal extracts.
When you’re in the midst of growing a business and juggling dozens of responsibilities, self-care can easily become secondary. Don’t let it. Make it a priority by setting specific and measurable goals.
2. Create Some Separation and Balance
Everyone wants to talk about work-life balance, but few understand what this actually means. Until you gain some clarity on this issue, you’ll fail to find fulfillment in either area of your life.
Work-life balance does not mean merging these two aspects of your life. In other words, it isn’t about bringing your kids to work and bringing your job home with you so that you can do both at once. In fact, the opposite is true. It’s about separating these two areas and being 100 percent present where you are.
When you’re at work, you should be focused on work. More importantly, when you’re at home, you should be focused on being a parent, spouse, friend, etc. A failure to make time for your personal life will lead to a constant state of exhaustion.
3. Learn to Say No
Entrepreneurs are often told that they have to be ready to say yes to everything in order to grow a business. However, saying yes to things that don’t fit into your core business will actually hold you back from growing. They’ll also eat up your time and energy.
“In order to say yes to what’s truly important, you need to have a firm understanding of your core priorities, entrepreneur Nellie Akalp writes. “Well-defined near-term and long-term objectives can help you frame your daily decisions and to-do list.”
Once you know what you can say yes to, you can start saying no to opportunities, questions, and challenges that don’t fit into your master plan. You’ll feel instant relief.
4. Take it Down a Notch
Passion and risk can be good things for an entrepreneur to weave into their startups, but there’s such a thing as too much.
“Some evidence suggests that entrepreneurs are more at risk of burnout because they tend to be extremely passionate about work and more socially isolated, have limited safety nets, and operate in high uncertainty,” Harvard Business Review reports.
If you’ve been surviving on adrenaline and trying to will your business to be successful, you’re draining yourself dry. By stepping back and taking things down a notch, you can develop more sustainable workflows that pave the way for greater longevity.
Rediscover Your Energy and Excitement
Do you remember what it was like when you first started your business and you were filled with excitement, anticipation, and fulfillment? It’s time to rediscover that joy and benefit from a renewed sense of purpose.
As an added benefit, your reignited passion will trickle down and have an impact on the rest of your business. Your employees will feel more engaged, your business decisions will be backed by greater intentionality, and your customers will notice the difference. It’s a winning combination that benefits everyone.