Come autumn 2016 I finally realised I was experiencing business burnout.
I was strung out emotionally and every day felt like walking on a tight rope. One gust of wind and I’d surely lose balance and fall to my impending doom. If it sounds melodramatic, I assure you that’s how it felt.
Because I’d been burning the candle at both ends in my business.
I hadn’t taken a proper holiday where I didn’t have to think about work for over 18 months. I’d travelled plenty, but mainly for business and never with the intention of just switching off. My mind was constantly on my business.
Conventional wisdom will tell you to take a break at the point of figuring out you’re experiencing burnout.
The problem was… I realised I was experiencing burnout during one of my busiest periods. I was already running my new 6 week online course Facebook Mastery; working on some really interesting projects with clients and had two exciting yet imminent business trips to New York and Rome.
I had a holiday in sight, but it couldn’t come soon enough.
I didn’t have any other choice but to motor on. I couldn’t and wouldn’t let my clients down and I couldn’t just opt out of life until my holiday.
So, I kept going because sometimes that’s all you can do.
I did finally stop in November, and took my long awaited holiday to Thailand. It was everything I needed – a complete change of scenery, true time out from business and lots of opportunity to sleep, rest and recoup.
And over Christmas, I continued to let myself unwind and relax and spend time with friends and family, not letting work dominate my thoughts.
Too Much Information?
I’ve questioned whether this is TMI and should be shared on my blog but my clients know I am in the arena with them when it comes to business. I’m not interested in pretending my life and biz are rosier or better than yours just to make you feel bad and sell you stuff.
I’d much rather be honest and tell you that:
- Sometimes this self-employed stuff is HARD.
- Sometimes you want to throw in the towel.
- Sometimes you get mad at yourself for not being able to stop thinking about business.
- Sometimes you wonder if getting a job would actually be easier.
- Sometimes you forget to give yourself a proper break.
- Sometimes you just want someone to call up and tell you you’ve won the lottery and can go live on an island and paint every day.
You’re not alone in feeling like this sometimes.
I also wanted to share my business burnout experience with you because if you care about your business and are actively growing it and pouring all your energy into it, you’re at risk of burning out like I did. Maybe you’re already there.
And if you are at risk, or you’re already there, then maybe some of the lessons I’ve learnt below personally will help.
How To Survive Business Burnout
1. Accept where you are, even if you can’t change it immediately
I was in denial for quite a while, even though the signs of burnout were there. I eventually figured it out and whilst I couldn’t change anything immediately I could accept that this was were I was. Giving the feeling of being rung out and on edge a label was helpful.
2. Make a plan for true time off
Even if you can’t take time off from your business right away, schedule it in for as soon as possible
I luckily had a 3 week holiday coming up, so could keep focusing on that. Knowing it’s coming helps you get through.
And make sure it’s true time off. Turn off the phone, the email, the social media apps and notifications. Allow yourself time to sleep, rest and be with yourself or loved ones completely. Tell yourself it’s actually good business practice (it is!) and you’ll be more productive and focused when you return (you will be).
3. Reduce your commitments
Cut out anything that isn’t essential when it comes to your personal and business commitments. Give the energy you do have left to your clients and the most important activities. Everything else can be put aside for now.
4. Try to forgive yourself, you’re only human
If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel crappy about the fact that you’ve got yourself to this point. But beating yourself up for being burnt out isn’t going to change much. Try and forgive yourself, look for the lesson and acknowledge that you’re human. You can do anything, but not everything.
5. Plan time out in the future
This was the biggest lesson for me. The main reason I got to the point of burn out was because I hadn’t taken proper time off for over a year. So, over the Christmas break Tim and I got out our diaries and scheduled time out for 2017. Long weekends, holidays and breaks. I also threw in a weekday “day off” every month to do whatever I please away from business. (This month, I’m going to go and help look after little hoglets at a local animal shelter!)
If you’re experiencing burn out, or feeling like you’re edging closer to it, I want to finally say this:
It’ll be ok and it doesn’t mean you’re a crap business person. And, there’s light on the other side, just give yourself the break you really need as soon as you possible can.
Experienced Business Burnout? Join The Conversation:
- If you’re struggling with burnout, when exactly can you give yourself time out?
- If you’ve experienced business burnout, what helped you most?
- Know someone who’s struggling right now? How can you help them?
Leave a comment below with your answers.
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