The dream of being a business owner is exciting to some, and there is an excitement that comes at the beginning of such a journey. However the daily reality of doing business over a long period of time is far less attractive. For many business owners, there is little glamour in routine. We believe that hard work will take us somewhere better. So we work a little longer. Work a little faster. But like being on a treadmill, no matter how fast you move, you’re not going anywhere. We’re running as fast as we can, in a race that has no finish line and heading for burnout.
What is burnout? For business owners, it’s a time to take a long, hard look at what we’re doing and ask some difficult questions of ourselves. It’s a time to re-evaluate, and take advantage of some California Days. In my opinion, burnout is the loss of that spark that drove you forward as an entrepreneur. It is the loss of energy and satisfaction in what we are doing. It’s that feeling of uncertainty that takes away one’s ability to function on a daily basis. For some business owners, it can be terminal.
Emotional exhaustion occurs when the workload is so heavy that you get tired just thinking about it. The hurdle is not so much getting the work done as building the strength necessary to simply start working. Do you know that feeling? It’s not even 9 a.m. and you feel exhausted just considering all the tasks that you have to address. You feel tired just looking at the pile of papers on your desk. You woke up exhausted!
Then there is the feeling of detachment; you just don’t care anymore. You feel isolated and alone. People around you – customers, employees, anyone – are just more predators trying to tear a piece from your dwindling carcass. Ultimately we are so overcome by our workload that we just turn our backs on it and walk away. “I don’t care anymore. I wish I were dead!”
I know this all sounds pretty dismal, and likely the new business owners are too busy to relate to it. They’re running on their treadmills and don’t have time to think about it. Veterans who have invested in their careers as business owners know what I’m talking about. Burnout is real. Burnout is deadly. Burnout can’t be avoided, however addressing it can help you to mitigate its damaging effects. By understanding and addressing our needs as humans – and as business owners – we may be able to sidestep the more negative aspects of burnout and avoid the extreme manifestations. It’s not easy and only you can help yourself.
Burnout is the sum of the demands on you multiplied by your lack of confidence in your ability to get everything done. It hurts and it’s debilitating. For business owners, with no place to turn and no shoulders to lean on, what do you do? What can you do to re-ignite that spark of energy and enthusiasm that drove you to accomplish what everyone told you was impossible?
I don’t have all the answers but I can make some suggestions on how to infuse yourself, and your business, with that opening day exuberance. You can recoup that feeling of satisfaction that comes with building something worthwhile. You can bring back that sense of accomplishment. You can look back with pride and look forward with anticipation to a better day and a better life. There are solutions that can make it all worthwhile again. It’s not easy, but preferable to the alternative. There is no magic bullet that will help everyone, every time but there are steps you can take that will lead to sunny, California Days.