Experiencing entrepreneur burnout? Here are some tactics to tackle or even prevent it.
Entrepreneurs who are just starting out are fueled by excitement and passion, and they tend to immerse themselves completely in their business. Working relentlessly often comes at the expense of your mental and physical health, as well as your life outside of work. The ever-increasing stress combined with the lack of personal time drains you of the initial passion and enthusiasm with which you started out, leaving you feeling depressed and unfocused. Entrepreneur burnout may make you feel like you are in a rut and the only way to get out of it is by addressing all the reasons why you may have ended up there in the first place. Here’s a list of things you can do to prevent entrepreneur burnout.
1. Identify stress triggers: While good stress is what helps you get things done, bad stress is what stimulates the ‘fight-or-flight’ response in you. What you may perceive as a minor inconvenience could make somebody else run for the hills. In other words, events that trigger stress vary from person to person. Identifying the stress triggers in your professional and personal life will help you remain calm during situations that previously caused acute stress.
2. Make realistic plans: While it is good for entrepreneurs be optimistic, too much optimism could make you set unrealistic expectations for yourself and your business. For example, a typical startup takes at least two to three years to break even. If you believe you could do it in a lesser time frame, you may be pushing yourself beyond your limit without realizing it. This could lead to disappointments that could have been avoided if you had set realistic goals.
3. Delegate everything uninteresting: True that entrepreneurs don multiple hats but it doesn’t mean that you must do everything yourself. There may be tasks you enjoy doing and others that instantly give you a headache. Remember that you are the boss—try to not get stuck with tasks that you don’t want to do. Hire somebody who would enjoy taking on those tasks. Your job is to delegate and hold the show together.
4. Address entrepreneurial guilt: Consider the following scenario. You are at a family function on a weekday when the rest of your team is at work. You feel guilty that you are not at work. This guilt that you are feeling is called entrepreneurial guilt. It could also manifest itself in other situations- when you miss your daughter’s dance recital due to an important meeting or when you bump into your college mate with a regular job who is heading home after clocking in nine hours while you are buried neck-deep in work. Dismissing these feelings as trivial isn’t going to make the problem go away. You must confront these feelings and remind yourself about the importance of work-life harmony.
5. Work-life harmony, not work-life balance: While a balance can easily be achieved by mindlessly snipping something from here and adding something there, work-life harmony would require a more holistic approach. It means that neither work nor personal life should have to struggle at the expense of the other. More often than not, personal life tends to take the backseat when it comes to entrepreneurs. Therefore, entrepreneurs must remind themselves constantly about the need for self-care and self-love.
6. Get your body moving: It is no secret that exercising can have a positive impact on your daily mood and energy level. Hit the treadmill, try kick-boxing, learn yoga—just ensure that you give your body some form of a workout every day. The feel-good endorphins can keep depression at bay, allowing you to focus on what really matters. And exercise will keep you healthy and fit as well.
7. Meditate: From Ariana Huffington to Marc Benioff, there is a long list of entrepreneurs who firmly believe in the power of meditation. It is something that anybody can take up to relax, have a better control over one’s emotions, improve focus and reduce anxiety. Meditation is a pre-emptive solution to entrepreneur burnout.All you need to do is to spare ten minutes to half an hour a day.
8. Take trips down memory lane: When life throws an obstacle at you and you find yourself stuck, think about why you started your business in the first place. If everybody gave up at the first sign of trouble, there wouldn’t be any successful entrepreneurs today. Rekindle your passion and drive by reminding yourself about the initial enthusiasm to keep burnout at bay.
9. Unplug: How daunting is it to even think about unplugging yourself from the business that you built from the ground up? Pretty scary, isn’t it? But the truth is, we all need the occasional break from technology and it doesn’t have to come at the expense of your work. You could take just one day every fortnight where you disconnect yourself and focus on other things that are important to you. Go trekking, learn how to surf—the options are endless. Plan ahead, run it by your secretary or assistant so that you are not disturbed on this day that you are setting aside just for yourself. Call it self-love if you have to, but know that you deserve it!
No matter how successful you may one day become, the quality of your life is still entirely in your hands. Entrepreneurs should make it a point not to ‘postpone’ their happiness for a later time. Make all those years of hard work also count. When you look back, those years should hold more meaning to you than simply being the ‘initial days of hustling’. After all, we are humans and it is the little things in life that bring joy and meaning to it.