When I burned out—I mean, crashed and burned—in my last business I had no one to turn to. I felt so alone and ashamed that I had ‘failed’ in my business. But the part that surprised me most about going through a period of intense burn out was how long it took me to recover. I can honestly say it took me about a year and a half (yes, you read that right!) to start to feel physically, emotionally, and mentally stable, good, and well. Let me just say this—I never want to be there again and I certainly don’t wish that upon any other business owner, because it was hard.
While every entrepreneur’s journey of burn out, exhaustion, or fatigue might look different, it is my goal to be open and transparent about my recovery and the steps I took to move forward.
While this is listed here as number one, it was not the first thing I did to recover; however, it has made the biggest impact. Energy begets energy. When I work out, my energy level peaks, I feel physically confident (as well as strong), which helps my emotional confidence, and it’s also given me a supportive, challenging community of friends I’ve made at the yoga studio I go to. Even on the bad days or the tired days, I go to yoga and it’s a complete and total perspective and body reset. I have never felt stronger, more fit, or energetic in my life. After all, how can you run and manage a successful business without having the energy to do so?
Like I said earlier in this post, I felt like a failure. Now, I realize failure is a stepping stone of success, but at the time, I was a mess. I was so hard on myself, because I couldn’t “hang.” I looked at my friends’ businesses and their success and just kept thinking, “Why couldn’t I make it? Why couldn’t I do it?” Not a healthy place to be for sure, but after I closed my business, I told myself that this was just a season of life. This season, too, shall pass and open up for something bigger and better. When those negative thoughts would creep in, I would push them away and try to do something more constructive. It didn’t always work, but it was a start. If you aren’t able to give yourself a little bit of leeway and some grace, then won’t be able to move forward into a place of recovery.
Entrepreneurs are extraordinary in all that we do, but we tend to have tunnel vision. We think and think and think about our businesses until our brain is about to explode. We sleep, eat, dream our business, so when something goes awry or not quite how we expected, we hyper focus on it. We concentrate only on the negative without giving the positives a second thought. In addition to gifting myself grace, I didn’t allow myself to wallow in the past. I accepted the past for what it was and began to look to the future for what I wanted to do next. I also gave myself days where I didn’t think about next steps at all—I remained present in my life, which was hard to do previously when I was working so much. Sometimes overthinking is the enemy of creation, so during your recovery, be sure to give yourself some mental breathing room.
Health had a massive impact on my recovery, but so did perspective. Right before I closed my business I started volunteering at a local animal shelter as often as I could. The things I had worried so much about with clients, with the business, or how things would turn out ended up not mattering quite so much as I thought. My outlook on my business changed entirely, because I became aware of the creatures and people out there in the world who were truly suffering and that needed help. Whenever I stress about something in the business, I always have to sit and ask myself, “Will this matter in a few days? In a month? In a year?” and if not, I don’t give any more attention to it. Not only that, but I love volunteering. The community I have found there, the feeling I get from helping these animals, and the impact I’m making is truly inspiring. I tell people to find a cause they love especially during a difficult time, because it will change your life in more ways than you could ever imagine (and speed up your recovery!).
I don’t even know who the person I was when I had my last business. I was miserable, I do know that. I stopped doing anything for joy instead I focused on eating for comfort, sleeping as often as I could, and just generally walking around like a zombie. I couldn’t tell you the last time I had done something for fun. I made it my mission upon burning out and moving forward that I would do more things that made me laugh or brought me joy. Since then, I host a monthly book club, am the coordinator for a local girl boss meet up group, I volunteer as often as I can, take any new classes or courses that interest me, travel more, see friends every week, spend time with family, and more. I made the decision that I wasn’t going to let my business run my life, instead it would be the other way around.
Now, these clearly aren’t all the ways in which I recovered from entrepreneurial burnout, but they are significant pieces of my journey that may be of some help or service to you in your recovery.
If you are in a season of feeling burnt out, I invite you to pick up a copy of my newest eBook, Endless: A Story of Entrepreneurial Burnout And Practical Knowledge On Preventing It In Your Business guides you through eleven practical steps to lead a more joyful, inspired, and stress free business.
Pick up a copy of the book today at the link above and start on your journey to reverse burnout in your business!
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