You don’t have to look too far these days to find a burnt out entrepreneur. Blood-shot eyes, unshaven stubble, and eyes glued to a computer screen run amuck.
With funding woes, competitive pressures, and a surplus of tasks on the to-do list, entrepreneur burn out is almost considered inevitable for many startups. At some time in your career as an entrepreneur, you can come to expect burn out. You can expect to be pulling-out-your-hair stressed, living-off-Cheetos, and lacking any form of a personal life.
That’s the life of a startup entrepreneur.
But you didn’t leave your 9-5 just to develop acid-reflux and a mean case of anxiety. You did it because you wanted to change the world. You did it because you couldn’t go an entire night without rattling on about your latest business idea. You did it because you were too passionate not to. So, why burn yourself out before you can achieve your dreams?
Avoiding ‘Entrepreneur Burnout’
Don’t get me wrong—being an entrepreneur is tough. You’re building something entirely new from scratch. But entrepreneurship is more enjoyable when you can cross the finish line in one piece.
Start a morning routine.
What’s the first thing you do in the morning? Check customer e-mails? Look at website traffic? How you start your morning sets the tone for your day. How you live your days sets the tone for your life. Whether it’s working out, journaling, meditation, cooking a hearty breakfast, or just going for a walk, a morning routine will force you to focus on yourself, give you a daily reset button, and teach you how to stop being a perfectionist. It’s hard to strive for perfection when you’re doing the same thing every day. Don’t run well today? No problem—you’re going to get up and do it again tomorrow.
Boundaries are the blueprint for your life. They’re the conscious rules for time management. They indicate exactly what you’re willing to put up with, when you’re willing to work, and your priorities. Instead of limiting the opportunities coming your way, boundaries can focus you on the most promising ones. You’d be surprised how easily people want to follow your boundaries once you actually set them.
Make stress work for you.
Stress isn’t your enemy. In fact, it’s the only thing tightening your muscles, making you more alert, and giving you the energy to meet that deadline. You’ve got to learn to distinguish between productive and unproductive stress. If you can do something about it, like handle a customer crisis, then it’s working in your favor. If you can’t, (i.e., getting stuck in traffic) then it’s a message that you need to drop some obligations or schedule your time better so you can be effective at everything you do.
Celebrate your success.
We’re quick to be tough on ourselves, but not so easy to deliver praise. Celebrate every success, no matter how small. You want to get a massage or spend the afternoon golfing because you worked hard all week? You have my permission. Taking time to revitalize yourself means you’re more effective when you’re back at it. Meanwhile, treating yourself doesn’t just mean extravagant celebrations. A few well-placed breaks throughout the day will do wonders to keep you on the ball.
Get good at looking bad.
Stop taking yourself so seriously. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and heartache if you just realize this right now: you’re not perfect and you never will be. No matter how many times you fall off that horse, keep getting back up. But always do it with a laugh. You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to look stupid. A lot. Learn to embrace it and enjoy the journey of entrepreneurship. It’s all part of the fun of being an entrepreneur. Most people will forget your faux pas, and will like you better for your sense of humor, anyway.
Building a company is a lot of work. Don’t make it any more difficult on yourself than you have to. Have some fun, keep your eye on the long-term goals, and always remember why you’re doing this in the first place.
It’s your passion that is going to get people behind your startup. Happy people change the world. Burnt out people just fuel their own egos.Now get out there and change the world.
Mike Iamele is a Corporate Wellness Coach, who specializes in helping entrepreneurs and executives manage stress, avoid burnout, and put their energy back into their passions. Catch him at www.bostonwellnesscoach.com, where he blogs advice for finding balance every weekday or on Twitter @mikeiamele.