If you’re a budding entrepreneur, you know that no one will care for your company like you will. It’s your child, your baby, a living, breathing cluster of thoughts, ideas and actions that you know will change the world.
We have this idea that our company or product will not succeed unless we are always roughing it, giving 250% every second of the day for years on end until we end up on Shark Tank, receive funding from an investor and become Forbes Hottest Company of the Year.
While hard work, persistence and tons of grit are vital traits for entrepreneurs to have, they cannot be pushed to the max, all day, every day.
While most know, while I was working as a sales rep at a tech company in Austin, I was also starting off my own wedding planning company. I loved having the stability of a 9-5 income and a side-hustle to pursue my creative drive, but working 80+ hours a week, getting 6 hours of sleep a night, never exercising, and barely seeing anyone besides my husband wasn’t the life I had dreamed about when I was a newly graduated collegiate.
I remember visiting my friend in Paris for a week in February of this year and having her look right at me and ask, “How are you doing?”
Such a simple question, one that normally generates a simple answer of “I’m fine/good/great/okay.” really hit me. I soon found myself sobbing and telling my friend about everything that had happened over the past few months.
I told her about the weekly panic attacks, about my hibernation patterns of being so exhausted I would sleep for 20 hours after a month of getting 6 hours or less of sleep a night. I told her about the lack of time Jacob and I had together, due to our ever growing commitments outside of work.
I told her about how my self-esteem had taken a huge nosedive due to my lack of exercise and eating healthy (because when you’re working 80 hours a week, serving in church, creating a new business and trying to be the best employee at your actual job, eating and exercising become the last thing you care about.)
I realized I was sick. I was emotionally drained, physically fatigued, and mentally out of it.
Basically - I was suffering from burnout. And according to Google, burnout means “physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.”
Yup. That sounded about right.
After a week abroad and coming back to the states, I sat in the car with my husband as he picked me up from the airport, recounted my experience with my friend and said,
“I don’t know what I’m going to do or how I’m going to change anything, but I don’t want to keep living like this.”
To which he proceeded to say, “Well then I guess you’re going to have to quit something - and I think you should take the leap into your business full time.”
Fast forward 3 months and I put in my notice at work, became an official Corporate Dropout and proceeded to start rectifying the bad habits I had created in order to make sure my next career as an entrepreneur wasn’t going to lead to burnout again. I had been down that path and it had only taken me 2 years in the corporate sector to get there, so I was (and still am!) determined to not get to that state ever again.
One of the ways I stay away from burnout is by taking “off days.” I think my parents sometimes worry that I take too much vacation, however having time away from my house, technology and work energizes me so much, so when I come back from traveling I am able to give the 110% to my company as a refreshed CEO.
Whether it’s a staycation in Austin or an all inclusive trip to the Dominican Republic that my husband won due to his stellar job as a salesman (thanks Oracle!), getting removed from the everyday allows me to focus and restructure my vision.
As entrepreneurs, it’s easy to get tunnel vision and work day and night to make your business dreams a reality, but a little time off to refresh, rejuvenate and re-adjust our mindsets is sometimes the exact formula to avoid our burnout.
A practical, weekly way I do this is by having a Sabbath, a day of complete rest. As a Christian, we believe that God calls his people to take a day off of their normal schedules and worship. Many people do this on Sundays - they go to church, grab a bite to eat with friends, and end up watching football during the Fall.
While I love my Sundays, unfortunately due to my line of work, my weekends are jam-packed and there’s not much resting going on. That’s why during the week, for one day, I like to do things that energize myself and make me connected and grounded with Jesus.
For me, that looks like making my house a home, whether it’s a crafting project I want to do for our room, or filling my house with music (as I enjoy dabbling on the piano and guitar), or sometimes I’ll end up reading a really good book, (currently, just started “The Best Yes” as my next reading project.)
Finding that sense of relaxation is vital for me. If I go a week or two or even three weeks without a day off, like I frequently did when working Monday-Friday and then again on the weekends doing weddings, I burnout quicker than a half inch candle.
Rest is good, burnout is not. Finding that Sabbath-sense is so important to who we are as humans - we aren’t God, we will never be God, and we won’t be able to be our best selves without taking time to refuel, relax and readjust our mindset.
If you’re still confused on how to rest and avoid burnout then I suggest taking a look at the below 8 things I recommend to young adults who are on the verge of being just like me, six months ago and ready for a change.
Sleep - it does wonders for your mind, body, soul and emotions and it’s amazing how your viewpoint can change after a little time asleep.
Read - personally, I read my Bible and highly recommend it, however find a book that calms you and take time to get lost in its pages.
Fuel Yourself - don’t look for a glass of wine to make you forget your current state. Energize yourself with a good home cooked meal and tons of water.
Spend Time Alone - we are so used to living in a connected world, but shutting down and turning off our phones, computers and TV’s allow us to really get to the root of our burnout.
Journal - write and process your thoughts, dig deeper and address the bottom line of your desire to work past normal boundaries
Do Something You LOVE - playing music, singing, sports, swimming, hiking, fishing, crafting, knitting - you name it, if you love it, take time to do it.
Travel - if your schedule allows, unplug for a longer period of time and grab a friend, spouse or family member and get away.
Be Honest - talk with a friend, family member, spouse, counselor, or coworker and be honest about your health state. No one will chastise you for needing a break, and honestly, if they do - you’re probably better off cutting ties with them.