How to Prevent Burn Out

Being an entrepreneur is a blessing and a curse. It took tremendous effort to arrive at this location. You saved up enough money or perhaps you have enough existing business to support yourself. You are finally doing what you want to do, on your own terms.


But freedom also comes with responsibilities. You need to ensure that you have a steady source of income. Those bills are not going to pay for themselves. So we go out and hustle, hard. The days are long but it never seems there is enough time in the day.

Entrepreneurship is called ‘The Grind’ for good reason. We have business on our minds around the clock, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Business occupies our first thoughts in the morning. We think about it while walking the dog or perhaps during love making. Our business is the greatest love affair we ever had. It borderline drives us to madness. There is no disconnect from the grind.

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Eventually, you will become exhausted or burnt out. It is not a question of if it could happen, but when. You may already be burnt out if you experience one or more of these signs:

tired man

Burnout Signals

Here are four signs that you might be burnt out. There is no timeline as to when burnout occurs. Some may feel this way in as little as one month. Others may feel this way after a few years.

You feel easily stressed and irritated. This is the most obvious signal. This is when you feel easily triggered by the normal ebbs and flows of business. Issues which normally seem easy or non-events turn into epic disasters.

Triggers could be a person or event. And those triggers may not necessarily be about work. For example, you found yourself angry all day because you spilled coffee onto yourself earlier in the morning. You were already dealing with the pent up stress and it manifested itself through the coffee incident.

People around you recognize that you are stressed. Your family, friends and business associates may feel they are walking on eggshells around you. They view you as a ticking time bomb that may explode for any reason.

Do not expect them to willingly tell you their thoughts. They may be hesitant because they are fearful of any negative reactions from you.

Diminished productivity. You may find yourself spending four hours on a two-hour project. Or perhaps you feel that you cannot find new solutions to a current problem. The well spring of your mind feels like it ran dry. Another scenario is that you just do not want to work at all. You are disinterested in your ever growing stack of paperwork.

You are experiencing health problems. This comes in many different flavors. In each circumstance you are not feeling your best and your body is responding negatively.

Below are one of many possible health problems:

  • You cannot sleep more than four hours each night. Or maybe you find yourself oversleeping.
  • Did you gain or loose a lot of weight recently, despite a conscious change in diet?
  • Are your eyes twitching?
  • Do you have frequent migraines?

Self Care is Important

The best way to prevent burnout is through self care. Self care involves avoiding the negatives and promoting the positives. Positive things (or situations) renew your physical energy, clarifies your mind and gives you fresh perspective. Below are some suggestions to minimize the negative and promote the positive in your life.

Manage Difficult Situations

Make sure that you preplan in advance how you choose to deal with a difficult activity. Activities may or may not involve others. Whenever possible, impose limits (time or conversation), select a preferred meeting location, or create a financial budget. Let’s discuss how to do that in detail.

woman juggling timeTime Limit

You may need to meet with a difficult client soon. Their personality (or politics) irritates you for whatever reason. But you realize that you find yourself particularly irritated after talking with them for more than two hours. To prevent yourself from becoming unprofessional, you set a 1.5 hour appointment with them. Do not feel afraid or embarrassed to set this boundary.

Topic Limits

An election year is coming up soon and your employees or clients are very vocal about their political affiliations. These political activists are trying to persuade you to vote for or against a candidate. Perhaps they are religious and want to preach their religion to you. The point is that someone wants to talk about a hot button issue with you.

Avoid becoming emotional by avoiding potentially divisive topics. If you can, tell people that you choose not to discuss issues surrounding religion, politics or sports. Enforce it by telling them you will not speak about those issues as well.

Another suggestion is to change the subject. You can change the topic in numerous sophisticated ways.

I prefer to use transition statements. For example, I might say, “Talking about sports, I know that client A also is interested in rugby. Do you know much about client A’s interests?” That shifts the conversation from sports onto client A. The video below discusses other practical transition ideas.

Select a Preferred Meeting Location

Also, you may choose to meet in a location where you feel most comfortable. For example, you may choose to talk with a difficult client over the phone rather than through video. A phone conversation will prevent a client from seeing your face if you feel irritated or upset. If you must meet in public, select a calm and neutral environment. Instead of meeting in an office, meet at a bagel or coffee shop.

Create a Financial Budget

A lot of people feel stress and regret from spending far more than they originally planned. Avoid the stress by writing a budget and sticking to it. And if necessary, share your budget with others. Do not let a salesperson or others try to persuade you to spend more than what you feel comfortable with.

Identify your Happy Spot

happy man at deskTake from 30 minutes up to one hour to identify what things bring you joy. These must be positive and not self destructive things. For example, you may enjoy smoking (fill in the blank), but your lungs are not in agreement.

Take a piece of paper out and write out what your happy spot looks like to you.

Is it visiting a certain relative?

Do you enjoy going to the park with your kids?

Taking your dog for a walk?

Identify what (or whom) makes you happy. After you do that, make a deliberate effort to schedule breaks in your scheduled to enjoy things that bring you joy. Whatever you choose, make sure that you put it in your calendar so you (as well as others) know self care is a priority for you.

Allow Yourself to Feel Unpleasant Feelings

Life is hard. It is okay to feel angry, sad or disappointed. These are natural and normal human emotions. Do not ignore them or try to suppress them.

Serious emotional problems like rage or depression may manifest if you do not deal with them properly. There are many positive and constructive ways to deal with negative emotions. Physical exercise, talking with a friend, or creating art (write, paint, draw, sculpt) are some ways to feel better and combat stress.

Consider Meditation.

Meditation will help you center yourself and be honest with your feelings. There are no specific rules to follow. Here is a video explaining medication for beginners.

Did you recently experience burnout? What did you do to recover from it? I would like to read it! Please drop me a line in the comment section below.

Need help with your work/life balance?

Schedule a free, 30-minute conversation with Denise.

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