You’ve probably heard that tired old joke – Whatever a woman does, she has to do it twice as well, to be thought half as good. Five different surveys spanning three decades in two different continents all drew the same conclusion – that women have to work harder to overcome the strict(er) performance standards imposed on them by society.
Why is this important, you might ask? Well, succeeding as an entrepreneur is hard enough. Succeeding as a female entrepreneur, on the other hand, takes blood, sweat, and tears… and then some. If you're running your own business, then you understand this all too well.
You’ve dedicated your life to see your dream come true. The journey hasn’t been easy, and it’s not about to let up anytime soon. The long hours, grueling routine, and chronic stress can take a toll on your health.
Here are some of the warning signs of entrepreneur burnout you need to look out for and what you can do to prevent it.
What Is Entrepreneur Burnout
Many women often underestimate the effects of chronic stress on their overall wellbeing, especially if they don’t have a healthy outlet for it. If you work too hard for too long, you’ll eventually get to the point where you want to give up on your business altogether.
Entrepreneur burnout doesn’t happen overnight. It’s something that builds up over time after a series of repetitive strains, and seemingly harmless events all cause your mind and body to start shutting down.
Symptoms of Entrepreneur Burnout
Is it possible to spot entrepreneur burnout signs before it becomes a problem? Here are the five main symptoms you should look out for.
1. You Can’t Stand the Thought of Going to Work
Think about the excitement you used to feel when you first started your business. Every new day brought with it untold possibilities. Regardless of the challenges, you were still thrilled about going to work.
Now, if you would rather lie in bed all day than get up and go to work, it’s a sign that you’re headed for burnout. If the passion you once had for your business has been replaced by negative thoughts and feelings of dread when you think about what awaits you, then you might need to hit the pause button on your life and figure out why you’re feeling that way.
2. You Can’t Stand the People You Work With
You handpicked every single person that works for you and with you. You welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with your clients to help them deliver on their vision. So why do all these people seem to be getting on your last nerve lately?
Why do you often find yourself snapping at your employees over the most minuscule issues? Why are you constantly frustrated by everyone?
If you find yourself losing your patience quickly, especially over small issues that would previously never elicit such a reaction from you, you might need to take a step back and evaluate what the root cause of your frustration could be. You’ll likely find that it has nothing to do with the people you work with.
3. You Feel Exhausted – All the Time
Exhaustion is the textbook sign of entrepreneurial burnout that many female business owners ignore. For many, being exhausted all the time becomes the new normal. If this describes you perfectly, you probably blame it on the strains of juggling your career and family life, and not being able to find the perfect balance between the two. This, however, shouldn’t be the case.
It’s normal to get exhausted from time to time, but if you’re feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally drained the majority of the time, and start to suffer physical ailments as a result, then it’s a sign of a much bigger problem. It’s your body telling you that you need to take some time off for yourself and recharge.
4. You Can’t – for the Life of You – Remember Why You Started Your Business in the First Place
The vast majority of entrepreneurs are grounded-optimists. It's ingrained in their DNA. They're tough and resilient. They stay the course through the highs and lows. They understand exactly what they signed up for when they decided to embark on this adventure.
From time to time, you’ll feel overwhelmed, and feelings of disillusionment might creep in. This isn’t necessarily a sign that your business is going under. It’s just a physical manifestation of your internal insecurities. Most business owners recognize this as such and simply power through it, keep their heads down and do what needs to be done.
While it’s okay to have those days when you feel like throwing in the towel, it’s a red flag when you feel this way for too long. If you’re cynical and disillusioned about your business lately especially when you’ve not achieved certain milestones you had set, don’t be so hard on yourself.
Seek an objective third-party opinion on how your business is doing. If they don’t sound alarm bells, then there’s a good chance that it’s all in your head. This is a warning sign of impending entrepreneur burnout.
5. You Don’t Feel Connected to Anything
Have you ever gone to work, and you feel strangely detached from the day-to-day goings-on of your business? There are urgent deadlines that you're not even the least bit concerned about. It's almost like you're having an out of body experience, and you're operating in robot-mode – simply going through the motions and not being present.
You feel like there are a million other ways you would rather be spending your time. The motivation you once had to build a big flourishing business has fizzled out after a series of unmet expectations. You’re drifting through with a “so what?” mentality, and you don't care whether your business closes down.
If you’re battling these feelings daily, this is considered the hallmark of entrepreneur burnout, and you need to rethink the way you’re living your life beyond your work.
Entrepreneur Burnout Recovery and Prevention
So, is there a way to recover from and avoid entrepreneur burnout altogether? Well, yes, there is actually. You need to think of your business as one of the many facets of your life that make you tick. You need to give it the same level of importance (not more) that you do everything else.
Here are five proven ways you can use to recover from entrepreneur burnout and prevent it from reoccurring in the future.
1. Be Mindful of How You Start Your Day
Start every day with a morning routine that’s all about you. The moment you open and begin responding to emails or text messages, you've given away your power over your agenda for the day to others.
Instead, consider using that time to calm your mind and start the day on a positive note. Read, meditate, journal, practice visualization, or workout to get those endorphins flowing. Then set an intention for that day and stick to it. Repeat the ritual every day to ward off “decision fatigue.”
2. Tame Your Thoughts
It’s so easy to get fixated on the aspects of your business that are not working that you forget the parts of it that are thriving. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to be mindful of your thoughts and stop yourself when they start to drift into the negative zone.
Write down all your accomplishments and keep building to the list. Focusing on what’s working will prevent you from getting overwhelmed when things don’t go according to plan.
3. Don’t Think Too Far Into the Future
One of the most effective entrepreneur stress management techniques involves focusing on the “here and now.” When faced with a challenge, rather than focus on how you’ll get it done – which in most cases is a herculean task – just focus on what you need to do next.
Make a list of solutions, prioritize them and keep crossing them off the list as they get done. A series of small steps will get you to where you need to be.
4. Stop Comparing Your Business to Others
You are your own toughest critic. Building a company from scratch takes time and effort. No two business models are the same, and there are many variables in play that determine the rate of your progress. So, focus on why you started the company instead. Avoid deprecating self-talk and appreciate every part of the journey towards greatness. It will all have been worth it in the end.
5. Take Regular Breaks
One of the most effective ways to stop burnout dead in its tracks is by taking regular breaks every day, every week and every month. Take a 15-minute break after every hour of continuous work and use that time to quiet your thoughts, stretch, and practice deep-breathing meditation exercises.
Be intentional about taking the weekend off to recharge, and every couple of weeks, take a week off to do something that feeds your soul. If it’s good enough for Bill Gates, it’s good enough for you too.
Put Yourself First
Society has programmed women to believe that they can only achieve excellence if they work long hours and sacrifice everything else in the process – their family, their health, their mental and emotional wellbeing… everything. This is why the number of entrepreneur burnout cases is on the rise.
Your health and wellbeing are just as important as your business. So, don't take it for granted. Use the tips in this guide to avoid burnout and live your best life as you build your business. Don’t suffer in silence. Your company thrives when you thrive.
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