Entrepreneurial Burnout And What It Taught Me
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
We often think of life as a series of grand events or milestones. The truth is, your life is made up of minutes, hours, and days that add up to months, years, and eventually your entire life. Therefore, your life as a whole is going to look like a combination of your most common days. With that in mind, how closely does your typical day resemble the life you’ve imagined for yourself?
I was burning the candle at both ends.
At 31, my typical day looked nothing like the life I’d imagined for myself and my family. I was working hard and more than ever at our rapidly growing company. As an entrepreneur, I’m always happy to put in the work. However, my hands were in so many parts of the business that I couldn’t get anything done. Under pressure, I thrive, but still couldn’t manage to get “caught up.”
During that time in my life, work was stressful, but my home life was even more so. My husband and I made the decision to move in with my mother-in-law. We wanted to help take care of things after my father-in-law passed away. It would appear to be a good idea at first, but the reality of my domestic situation was that I was caring for my children, as well as two capable adults. Additionally, I was attempting to manage the household without any outside help. My husband wasn’t showing up like I needed him to. I felt like I was alone in trying to create a life for all of us, not just myself.
My weekends were more exhausting than my weekdays. By the time I checked everything off the list, it was time to head back to work on Monday to do it all over again. This is what entrepreneurial burnout looks like. I was trying to do it all and have it all, but I was coming up short. My typical days looked nothing like the fulfilling and adventurous life I dreamed of.
Something had to change.
One morning I arrived for work, pulled into a parking space, and just sat in my car. An overwhelming feeling sank in of not being able to continue on like this for even one more day. I felt like the work would never end and that I would never be able to get the help I was seeking at home. I was at a breaking point.
The only way I could fathom escaping the constant demands from those around me was to check myself into the hospital. I was that low. My husband met me in the hospital parking lot. I told him in no uncertain terms that I could not maintain doing everything on my own any longer. His help was needed at home. I needed some relief. That was the very first baby step in a purposeful path for real change.
Changing my days to change my life.
That conversation in the parking lot wasn’t the magic bullet that conquered our problems. In fact, things continued to get worse for a time, and that made me angry. That anger was motivation to overhaul my life. Reflecting on the thought about who I had wanted to become for myself before I’d taken on the role of becoming what everyone else wanted me to be.
I had to make major changes in my daily life to create a life I could look back on with pride. I made a decision to prioritize my health, my kids, and my career, in that order. In addition to writing down what I wanted to start doing, I made a list of all of the things that I was going to stop doing. Since we all have an extremely finite number of hours in the day, it’s vital to eliminate daily tasks that aren’t serving you. If a habitual activity is standing in between you and your goals, I would recommend seeing if there is a way to eliminate or delegate it.
Learn from your entrepreneurial burnout.
This time in my life was as fruitful as it was challenging but only because I chose to learn from my struggle, shift my perspective, and take action. Here are a few bite-sized pieces of wisdom burnout revealed to me.
- Recognizing, admitting, and accepting that you are experiencing burnout is the first step to creating real change. You are only one person, and as upsetting as it might be, you have to make peace with the simple fact that you can’t do it all.
- Find your motivation. For me, anger was fuel for change, but this motivational element can be different for everyone. Whether it’s a struggle, grief, or even a streak of good luck; it’s important to look at what pushes you towards your goals and then harness that!
- Knowing what you want out of life is key. If you are moving through your days without goals or a plan to achieve them, you will likely never get where you want to go. Life is the ultimate journey, and just like you wouldn’t venture out on a cross-country road trip without a GPS or map, creating the life you want requires a plan.
- Take the right action. If you’re experiencing burnout, you take action all the time to get things done. But those aren’t necessarily the actions that lead to your dream life. You must take inventory of what you do on a daily basis and decide what should stay and what you have to let go of in order to move forward.
This is your sign to create change.
If you’re struggling with entrepreneurial burnout, don’t give up. This is your sign to create change and redirect your actions towards a life that aligns with your true self. If you’d like to hear more about my story and how you can harness your own experiences to create a life even better than the one you dream of, check out my new book, #KeepGoing.