Burnout has been a major topic of discussion the last few years. As entrepreneurs we are constantly hearing about EVERYTHING we should be doing in our business, how to be a better business owner, how to be more productive, and all the things.
Heck, that is a huge topic of conversation on the blog honestly!
But can we switch the roles a little bit? Instead of being so focused on the go, go, go of entrepreneurship, let’s talk about the true enemy that comes along with it… burnout.
Not only knowing you’re in burnout mode, but how to pull yourself out of it too. Take a life inventory about where you’re at in alignment with your values.
How to Prevent Burnout as an Entrepreneur
Burnout can be a beautiful indicator of finding your voice in your life of what aligns and what doesn’t, and it’s never too late to course-correct things in your life.
I’m sharing some vulnerable things about my own experience and journey through burnout; stories that I’ve never shared before! So here’s what you need to know about how to prevent burnout as an entrepreneur.
Recognizing the triggers
I’m gonna tell you about the time I hit burnout. And it was at a time that looking back, was expected, but also unexpected.
It was Fall of 2020 and I was in the week leading up to my very first digital course launch. I was SO excited to deliver my first live webinar and put out to the world the course I had put too much heart and energy into.
I honestly didn’t think I was THAT overwhelmed at the time, because I was feeling great. BUT the kicker was, I was 6 months pregnant.. so the hormones were raging!
And I didn’t really realize or expect it, but I hit a huge wall and had a meltdown. I mean uncontrollable sobbing in Trents arms (this is not normal for me, mind you).
The weird part about it was it wasn’t triggered by anything that happened in my business, it was triggered by me feeling like I wasn’t being nice enough to someone. And then I felt like I was being a huge brat and I felt so horrible about it that I had a meltdown.
Call this pregnancy hormones, call this burnout breakdown.. I think it was a combo of both.
The point is, if you are overloading yourself with too many things, with too much pressure, ANYTHING can trigger a breakdown (at least in my experience anyways).
Recovering from burnout
I pulled myself together, rode on that launch high for a week or so, and then took a long, much needed break and down time for myself to recover from what I didn’t even realize was burnout.
Part of this also was committing to what I normally was able to do, but being pregnant realized I couldn’t do as much, so I had to learn that balance real quick.
But also, I’m really glad that this happened to me (and this wasn’t the only time I hit a burnout breakdown, this was just my most recent).
What I found was, when you start to recognize your triggers, you can start to put boundaries in place for yourself and your business, so that you can recognize the signs and stop them before they come on.
And the point of boundaries isn’t necessarily to keep everyone OUT of your business and life, but they’re more so to protect yourself withIN your own present life.
I hate to say this, but you may have to experience and test your own boundaries to figure out what your threshold is because everyone’s is different. Meaning, you may have to experience a burnout breakdown to know what your limits are.
And although I don’t promote or encourage that by any means, I also want you to know that you’re not broken if you do experience it. It doesn’t mean that you’re incapable, and it also doesn’t mean that you aren’t cut out for entrepreneurship.. It is very normal, and you are not broken.
Know the pace you need to work at
One thing about entrepreneurship is, it’s a marathon not a sprint. I know that you want to show up every day tackling everything and more, but this is what leads to burn out IF you are not doing it in a way that fills your cup and leaves space for yourself.
But the hard truth we sometimes need to hear is that: the work is in the rest.
Sometimes you just need to take a step back and break down your work week, and I mean really break it down! What can you accomplish and when, for not only the best results for your business, but the best results for YOU and your sanity!
Going 100 miles an hour every minute of the day is going to leave you feeling exhausted, so set your own pace. And listen, social media isn’t making this easy on us creative entrepreneurs, let me tell ya!
The amount of pressure that is on us to continuously create, create, create new content every single day is EXHAUSTING.
I don’t care, no matter what you say, no matter how much you love creating the content that you do… it gets tiring.
Create content you love
That is also why it’s so important to be creating content you LOVE. Because don’t get me wrong, for me, making Reels and Tiktoks about photography education is hands down my favorite type of content to make.
More than personal content, more than wedding photography work content, that is why I do this!!! Because it’s the easiest and most enjoyable content for me to make.
I think it’s because I do it coming from a place of service. I know and hope that the education I put out there is serving and helping someone. That is the heart behind my brand, and what I do.
I literally do this podcast FOR YOU. It would be EXHAUSTING if I did it just because and I didn’t genuinely LOVE doing it.
So find the thing that sparks joy and motivation in your work, and also know that it’s okay for that to pivot and change as well. But also know that you need to find a work pace that works for you.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be pumping out so much content that you run yourself to the ground. Create from a place of service, enjoyment, and love, and you cannot go wrong.
When you start working at the pace you need, your business will work around it. You will be surprised that no one around you will freak out if you change to what you need!
Knowing when it’s coming on and what to do
So maybe you’re listening and you’re thinking “How do I know if I’m burnt out?” or “Okay, maybe I’m burnt out but what are the signs?”
It’s super important to recognize the signs and also use them as a compass to gauge where we are at on the burnout scale.
Some signs of burnout could be: energy depletion, increased mental distance, feelings of disconnection, lack of control, lack of social support, and unclear work expectations.. These are all signs of burnout.
It can cause physical damage like insomnia, high blood pressure, sadness, anger. And that’s not even touching the toll it takes on your mental health! Not great, right?
What can you do?
I have some suggestions for you: if you feel like this is resonating with you, or if you are noticing you are experiencing some of the triggers or feelings, (mind you, I’m not a doctor, these are some things that have helped me) if you are able to get support, get support!
NO ONE said that you have to do this alone. A good question that my business coach asks me is: Where could you get extra support that you’re not asking for right now?
As entrepreneurs, we tend to want to do as much as possible on our own, that we forget that we don’t have to! We forget to ask for help, and to offload tasks onto our teams if you have one.
We also forget to put ourselves first when needed because we’re so busy trying to fill everyone else’s cups before our own. That’s why I love client experience so much because THERE IS a way to serve the heck out of your clients without running yourself to the ground.
But once you can identify your triggers, you’ll be able to gauge when they are coming on, and then from there you can learn how to navigate around them to prevent yourself from hitting a burnout breakdown.
Whether that be finding something to do that makes you happy, fueling your body with healthy food, moving your body, anything that will help you navigate around hitting that point.
Make a list of what inspires you to pull you out of it
Having reminders of what drives and motivates you can help keep your mood high when you’re noticing the feelings creep up. What are you doing this for? Who are you doing this for? Go back to basics and look at your business why. Does it still ring true and does it inspire you?
Gratitude lists have been proven to help elevate your mood and reduce negativity. You can be grateful for small things – maybe you got a good parking spot at the grocery store or the rain stopping just long enough for you to get inside.
Nothing is too small or silly. You can of course put big things on your list, but if you are already feeling overwhelmed, start small.
Change your work space
Making your work space a positive place you enjoy being in can also help inspire you when you’re feeling the funk start creeping in. Put up a vision board, light a candle, maybe some white noise. Set the mood and make your work space a place you want to be, not somewhere you dread to go.
It can also be as simple as finding something that brings you JOY. Find the simple things in life that bring you joy OUTSIDE of your business.
Yes I know that we truly and genuinely love working in our businesses, but when was the last time you felt true joy doing something that is completely outside of it?
Having an outlet to rest and recharge outside of working is so important to offload some mental exhaustion and make sure you’re not depleting all of your energy. That way when it comes time to work, you’re energized and recharged instead of feeling bogged down.
When you can do that, that’s when your level of productivity is going to be higher too because you have taken the time to fill your cup and bring yourself joy first.
Know you don’t have to hop on every new trend
You do not need to hop on every single new trend that happens. That will definitely put you on the fast track to burnout.
But raise your hand if you’ve ever felt behind or like a failure if you didn’t catch the most recent trend, only to say to yourself: “Ugh, I’ll catch the next one” (I’m raising my hand right now fyi).
I don’t know why we put so much pressure on ourselves to constantly be doing the most trendy thing, or to always be up in the know of things. I mean, I do know why… It’s called social media and social media pressure.
But it honestly doesn’t have to be that way. You also don’t “have” to be posting 7 days a week to grow or stay relevant.
In fact, no one can really tell you how much you should be posting to social media because everyone has different requirements of what their social posting schedule looks like.
Maybe for you, social media isn’t even your #1 lead generator. So you don’t need to be putting as much effort into it. In that case, maybe you only need to post once or twice a week. Then, that doesn’t affect your inquiry rate.
Or maybe for you, social media is where ALL of your leads come in. Therefore, it’s more important for you to be present and posting everyday.
It looks different for everyone. So don’t compare yourself to what anyone else is doing because everyone’s business models are different.
And I also want you to know, rest assured, you most certainly are not behind or a failure if you don’t keep up with every single new trend!
Learn how to run the backend of your business with ease
This one is a little more of a business-y tip, but it’s also important!
When you can run the backend of your business without constantly overseeing it, this will reinforce those boundaries we talked about and help you set new ones. No more worrying about checking your email on Sunday morning because you know your auto response is doing the job!
Start with identifying your business activities and break them down. What is the process for each one? Aree there tools you use for specific activities? What can you delegate?
Go through everything so you feel confident in how it all runs. In turn you will feel more comfortable stepping back.
What softwares help you?
And that is just one thing to make the backend so much easier to manage. Start finding out what your softwares can do for you! So many of the tools you already use I’m sure have systems in place to make your life easier!
My life saver is Honeybook! Everything is so customizable. You are able step away from your business knowing that it is all taken care of.
But I also think the important thing to think about with running your business is that you don’t want to work hard only to work harder.
And what I mean by that is, if you’re working more efficiently because of all the extra time you get back from having a well run business on the backend, don’t just turn around and use that extra time to work harder.
Take time to rest
I mean, hey, by all means you absolutely can!
But, I also challenge you to use that extra time to do something for you. Do something that brings you joy, and fill that extra time you have with something that fills your cup. Instead of turning around only to keep working even harder.
Find joy in the rest, because that’s where the true work happens. And listen, this is no walk in the sunshine for me.
When it comes to my business, I am a hard worker to my core. I love nothing more than working on my business. I genuinely love working. Working comes easy for me, it’s easy for me to want to work.
Where the true challenge lies for me is in the rest. I have to force myself to rest sometimes. And I don’t mean just moving my computer to the couch and turning on some educational youtube videos to work and calling that rest.. I mean true rest away from my computer and doing something I enjoy.
Finding a good support system
Building a support network – it’s okay if you do hit burnout, most of us will. But the important thing to do is to find people that you can be honest with without judgment in that specific area of your life.
If you’re feeling burnt out in your business, have good business friends, a coach, or community you can turn to to lean on during that time. If you’re feeling burnt out in overall life, turn to a partner or family member
Having specific people you can lean on for support is crucial in helping you through that difficult time. I’ll be honest here because I feel like this is a trusted community here.. I’ve struggled in the past to admit that I was burnt out.
My husband or my parents have called me out and have told me I should maybe consider slowing down. And I would say “No, no, I’m just fine” only to shortly after realizing that they were maybe right.
So sometimes having a good support system looks like having close people in your lives who can also identify and recognize your signs of burnout before you even can. Because sometimes we’re on such overdrive and running on such survival mode, that we can’t look up and see the big picture of what’s actually happening.
There have also been times where admitting to burnout was hard because at the same time. I was so grateful to have a business that is busy. So I didn’t want to come across as ungrateful or that I was complaining that I had a business that was thriving basically.
But there is such a difference between acknowledging your limitations and being ungrateful. You can be both.
My last piece of advice that my mom always tells me is: This too shall pass.
I don’t know what it is about that phrase that is so comforting for me in times of hardships. It’s the simplest saying, but every time my mom says it I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders.
And although I’m not your mother, I hope you can also find comfort in that saying!!
But at the end of the day, ask yourself in the midst of your hustle + bustle, what’s the destination I’m trying to get to? Does it actually align with my core values and brand mission? Or am I chasing something I just “think” I should be chasing?
Because the most important thing is that it’s the journey that was meant to be enjoyed, not just the destination! So do a self check-in and make sure you are enjoying your journey on the way to whatever you’re striving for that is aligned with you.
I really hope you enjoyed this post today! It was a fun and personal one to talk about. Which I love being able to do on this community here!
Be sure to check out more Gold Biz Podcast episodes here!