Are you feeling detached from your business? Have you been feeling physically and emotionally exhausted? Do you feel like your entrepreneurial efforts are ineffective, or that you have a lack of accomplishments compared to how much work you put in? Do you have to force yourself to get out of bed in the morning?
These are the hallmark signs of career burnout, and entrepreneurs are especially vulnerable to experiencing it. Burnout can leave you feeling exhausted, and can even lead to depression and physical symptoms (like an increased risk of illness and fatigue). Worst of all, it can make you develop disinterest in your business, and decrease the effort and enthusiasm you’re willing to spend in it.
Prevention or Treatment?
The best way to address burnout is to prevent it before it ever occurs. Burnout usually sets in when you spend long hours on a project or at your job, with few (if any) breaks or vacations. During periods of high stress, these effects are even more powerful. As an entrepreneur, you’ll likely experience a “honeymoon” period with your business, where your enthusiasm for the project outweighs any stress or challenges you face throughout its development. But once that’s over, you’ll need to take regular breaks, go on vacation, delegate more work to others, and invest in your physical health if you want to avoid burnout.
But what do you do if the effects of burnout have already set in?
Recovering From Burnout
These are just some of the strategies you can use to respond to an onset of burnout:
1. Go on an entrepreneurial retreat. One of your best options is to go on an entrepreneurial retreat, which is designed as a part-vacation, part-networking event, part-personal development opportunity specifically for entrepreneurs. The Baby Bathwater Institute hosts events like these to bring entrepreneurs together, pull them away from their businesses, and give them the opportunity to connect with other like-minded individuals. You can use the opportunity to learn something new, meet some new people with whom you can share your stress and challenges, or just relax in the natural scenery.
2. Take a vacation by yourself. If you don’t like the idea of a structured event, you can always opt to take a vacation by yourself. By vacation, we mean a real vacation; unplug from the internet, don’t talk to your coworkers, and try not to overbook yourself. You need at least a few days away from everything if you want to truly decompress.
3. Hire an assistant. If you’re juggling too many responsibilities, consider hiring a personal assistant to help you with your workload (especially annoying tasks that clog up your to-do list and responsibilities you hate). You can find a virtual assistant on a platform like Upwork, or a live personal assistant on a platform like Care.
4. Sell all (or part) of the business. If you’ve gotten to the point where the business feels like too much to handle right now, consider selling part of it—or all of it. You could bring on a partner, and give them half the equity in exchange for a buy-in rate, or you could do away with the business altogether by giving it to the highest bidder.
5. Spend time on your health. No matter what course of action you take, set aside some extra time to take care of your personal health. That means exercising regularly, eating healthier foods, and getting at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. These changes will help you reduce your stress, have more energy throughout the day, and improve your mental health so you can focus on what’s most important to you.
6. Start a new side gig or hobby. If your business feels like it’s consuming you, delegate some of your tasks so you can have time to pick up a side gig or a new hobby. Depending on what you pick up, it could serve as an extra line of revenue, or just be an outlet for stress relief. Either way, you’ll mitigate the symptoms of burnout, and potentially create a new career path for yourself if you still feel burned out after a few months.
7. Change up your routine. One of the most important things you can do is also one of the simplest: change your routine. Adjust your schedule so it isn’t so repetitive, and allow some more flexibility so you can be spontaneous throughout the week. Burnout is more than just falling into a rut, but breaking out of a rut can be just the spark you need to overcome burnout symptoms.
Entrepreneurial burnout can seriously jeopardize both your personal and professional life, so it’s something you need to take seriously. If you notice the signs of burnout creeping up on you, take these proactive measures to recover—or at least mitigate the effects.