Spending too much time behind your desk could result in entrepreneur burnout. Know what it is before it hits you.
Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson and Elon Musk make it look so easy, don’t they? It is only after starting the entrepreneurial journey that many of us realize that the entrepreneur life isn’t as glamorous as it is portrayed to be. Sooner or later, there will come a time when a typical 9-5 job would seem more appealing than running the entire show all by yourself.
Are you exhausted all the time? Do you feel stressed out and anxious about your business? Does the frustration and worry keep you up at night? If you answered ‘Yes’ to the above questions, you may be on the fast track to entrepreneurial burnout. The tricky thing about it is that you won’t see it coming until it is upon you. If you catch the symptoms early on, remind yourself that it is time to slow down and cut yourself more slack.
Entrepreneurs burn out faster
Entrepreneurs are at a higher risk of burnout that other salaried professionals, solopreneurs more so. Nobody is telling you how to think or work when you are your own boss. That is the upside. The downside is that you must think, plan and execute everything—from product idea, seeking investments, sales, marketing, hiring, legal aspects and tons and tons of paperwork. There doesn’t seem to be an end to everything you are expected to do.
It is usually passion the drives an entrepreneur to start his business despite the high levels of uncertainty associated with it. It is this same passion which ends up burning you out. Just like how there is good stress and bad stress (good stress enables you to be more productive while bad stress contributes to health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.), there is good passion and bad passion as well. Good passion or harmonious passion is having your eye on the goal and working towards it while accommodating your mental health, relationships and family – and other important aspects of life that matter to you as a person – into your busy schedule. It is alright to work hard as long as you allow yourself breaks. This flexibility gives those entrepreneurs with harmonious passion the immunity against entrepreneurial burnout.
Passion can also be the villain
Bad passion or excessive passion is when you are so focused on building your business that you forgo all the good things in life that make it fun! While working may seem fun for a while, it’ll soon turn into a mundane task if all your waking hours and energy are spent on that one single thing. If you find yourself mentally, emotionally and physically drained every day without any reason, it is probably because you forgot ‘self-care’ while scrambling to get to the top. Your excessive passion has resulted in tunnel vision, which led you to neglect your self and it can get debilitating in the long run.
To put it simply, burnout is a form of depression. However, it is not talked about much nor is it taken seriously. Long-term, unresolved stress at work is the root cause of it. It could result in a constant state of anxiety that you just can’t shake off, even if you take an impromptu vacation off from work to recharge and rejuvenate. That short break would probably lift your spirits temporarily, but as soon as you are back to your previous routine, you would probably feel like you are in a rut again. The point is, there is no quick fix for entrepreneurial burnout.
Change the way you look at work
You need to introspect and ask yourself where all this stress is coming from. Forget your to-do list which we know has an umpteen number of things on it; it could be just one of the many things weighing you down. Look deeper. Sometimes, stress stems from irrational fears such as the fear of not succeeding. This is particularly true for those who strayed from the beaten path by giving up their six-figure salary for the road less traveled. They would have had to convince friends and family regarding their decision to quit a terrific job and invest all their life-savings on a business idea that may or may not work! It is in scenarios like this that the entrepreneur feels the extra pressure of having to prove to the world that he made the right decision. And many a time, in their race to be the best, they forget about themselves.
To deal with entrepreneur burnout, you could start by assigning yourself ‘work hours’ and switching off after that to focus on other aspects of your life. Build a support network of people, carve out some ‘me-time’ to focus on the things that matter to you other than your business. Read more on preventing entrepreneur burnout here: 9 Ways to Tackle Entrepreneur Burnout. More importantly, know that entrepreneur burnout is real and stretching yourself thin by working round-the-clock isn’t the solution to any of your problems.