When you wake up in the morning, are you fired up and ready to take action? Or do you pull the covers over your head and ruminate about all the things on your to-do list? If you lean towards the second, you might be heading towards entrepreneur burn out.
There are a lot of ways that burn out manifests but if you catch it early, you can turn yourself around before your energy becomes toxic to your business.
Here are some of the warning signs:
- You are exhausted before lunch time (and maybe the minute you step out of bed.)
- Your motivation is waning — activities that used to be exciting are ones that you now procrastinate or avoid.
- You might find yourself in an abnormal amount of confusion or overwhelm.
- You can’t imagine anything bigger than your current business. Just the idea of fitting more in makes you feel more overwhelmed.
- You get easily frustrated with your clients, colleagues or team members.
- Problems that used to roll off your back now become mountains that you worry about.
- You don’t remember why you started your business and it now feels more like a job than an extension of your passion and purpose.
- It feels like you lost your fire and you just can’t get it back.
Fast-paced, ambitious entrepreneurs are highly susceptible to entrepreneur burn out. For a visionary entrepreneur, ideas are like babies –you give birth to something new and guide your idea every step of the way from a seed of possibility to fruition — which creates major attachment to your idea. If you’ve got a lot of ideas, you’ve got a lot of babies to take care of.
In 2010, after hitting a rough patch, I personally went into a burnout nose dive. It was ugly. I lost my passion, lost my drive and ended up feeling completely disconnected from everything and everyone I cared about. I discovered that my stress had transitioned into a full-blown adrenal burnout that led to an auto-immune disorder that had turned my body inside out. So I had a physical reason why my burnout had derailed me. But that didn’t explain all of the emotional reasons I lost my drive.
You see, when you fall in love with your vision of what’s possible it can be frustrating when it doesn’t happen fast enough. And quite frequently, the creative business owner’s identity and self-esteem gets wrapped up in the success of their business. And if you consider yourself a high-achiever who is results driven, you can feel burned out and jump ship prematurely. I had wrapped my sense of self-worth around the success of my business. And when things went side-ways for awhile, I took it personally, which led to more stress, which contributed to my burnout.
I started to share more and more about my burnout from the stage in podcast interviews and when invited to speak at a colleague’s event. Interestingly, with all of the great leadership tips I shared, the #1 question I got from the participants was about how to recognize and heal burn out. Boom. I wasn’t alone. A few of my friends started talking to me about their burnout. We shared ideas and commiserated on the feeling empty. I realized there was a bit of an epidemic so I talked about it on episode 24 of Amplify Your Success Podcast.
Burnout is real. But you don’t have to let it tank you if you can quickly recognize the signs and head it off at the pass.
If you are heading towards burn out, here are a few ways to get your inspiration back:
1) Take some time off. I know this might sound completely insane, especially if your cash flow is tight or you are behind schedule. But it works. Jim Palmer, author of Stick Like Glue, was hitting the wall and I prescribed a “recharge day.” He took a mini-vacation and spent a work day at the ball park and came back to his desk feeling completely recharged. Schedule a day, week or even two weeks off to reconnect to your passion.
2) Go back to your why. When you reconnect to WHY you wanted your own business in the first place you can re-spark all of the passion you originally felt? Who did you want to serve? What did you want to accomplish? What was important to you about being an entrepreneur? Perhaps you got off track from your original mission and all you have to do is revitalize your original vision. Spend some time creating a vision for your life and business that fires you up.
3) Get support. The biggest cause of entrepreneur burn out is trying to do everything it takes to grow your business alone. Even those business owners who do hire help often under-delegate the energy draining tasks. Create a dream team to liberate you so you can outsource profitably – and free yourself up to do the things you love most. If you aren’t spending 80% of your time in your superpower, eventually, you will wonder why you started this business.
Most importantly. don’t give up. You’ve worked really hard to get here. Give yourself some space, then consider joining in a community or mastermind that provides more sustainable growth practices (like the principles I teach in Amplify Your Authority Inner Circle.)