How often does the topic of burning out come up in business conversations that you're part of?
I always thought burn out was a career thing. I thought you burned out by working for others, meeting deadlines, dealing with corporate crapola… but turns out a lot of my entrepreneurial friends have experienced bouts of burn out in the midst of doing work they love.
I asked several of them if they'd be willing to share a story and tip. Enjoy & please do add your own stories and tips below in the comments section!
Wendy Piersall Crashed & Burned For Lack Of Separation
My first business crashed and burned because I didn’t realize I was burnt out until it was too late. There was no separation between work life and home life. And since we were going through the recession of the early 2000’s, work life took over everything. I was on the computer day and night, taking whatever scraps of work I could find, and severely undervaluing my hours and talent out of desperation to pay the bills. I didn’t do anything to nurture or take care of myself, and was struggling with post partum depression on top of it. When it was time to finish up the last project, it felt like a first day off in 4 full years. It took two years before I could even consider the idea of being self employed again. Ever since, making balance and self care is a top priority – and 14 years and 3 employees later, it’s a formula that works!
Wendy Piersall is an artist, author and publisher of educational content for children. She has released two best selling books, written for Entrepreneur.com, appeared on the Today Show, and is passionate about making an impact on the world in many ways. Learn more about her at WendyPiersall.com
Donna Kozik: Beating Burn Out (And Its Kissing Cousins)
It’s the start of the new decade, but for many, it can feel like “same stuff, different year.”
Although burnout isn’t something I have ever experienced (I’ve done my Write a Book in a Weekend virtual event more than 80 times over 11 years), I do suffer from its kissing cousins, “bright shiny object syndrome” and “procrastination.”
I believe, though, these two fixes for these so-called maladies, can be the same. It starts with…
- Remembering your “big why.” Whether it’s losing weight or being a business owner, you have to self-motivate. Write down and review the reason you’re taking action. If you’re still feeling burned out, then…
- Give yourself permission to do something else. Instead of forcing yourself to work on your designated project, force yourself to read about something completely different for a few hours. This can help reactivate your interest in your chosen subject of expertise.
Give it a try and see if it works for you!
Donna Kozik is a USA TODAY & WALL STREET JOURNAL bestselling author who shows others how to write a book to use as a “big business card.” Pick up your free book planner at FreeBookPlanner.com.
Nicki Omohundro: Being On The Go Is Both Wonderful And…
I have felt burnout, quite recently actually. My travel schedule lately has been quite hectic and I've been on the go since the summer. I realized that I was burnt out when I dreaded being home because I knew that I would have to write all the content I was behind on. I felt as though I was in a deep hole of work with no end in sight. The idea of writing had no thrill and it felt more like a “job” and chore that something I used to love. I knew it was time to change when I just can off a press trip and a state pr agent asked about all I'd seen.
I actually drew a blank and couldn't talk about anything I'd seen what looking at notes or pictures. Recently, I made the decision to drastically cut my work travel schedule. I am being more selective about the projects I am taking on and saying no to a lot more than I ever have. When I write now, I have to “feel it” in order to do it. Less SEO content and more personal account on travel. I have also made it a conscious decision to do more self-care and lay down strict business hours. The rest I'm figuring out as I go.
Nicky Omohundro is a travel and active family lifestyle blogger and social media influencer based out of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She shares stories, destinations, and ideas on food, family, health, and outdoor recreation to help families find their own adventures. Her spirit animal is a caffeinated squirrel fueled by coffee, real food, and the desire to seek new adventures. You can find Nicky at LittleFamilyAdventure.com.
Audrey Walker Blackburn Identified Her Angst
I had no desire to work anymore even though I love my work. I lost interest. I lost my passion for a time. I did what I could to get an extended time to step away from work (a week) and I discovered what was causing me angst in my work. So I took action to make the changes needed and the burnout went away.
Many times it is due to overwork doing the work that least lights me up. I have to make sure I do my meditation daily, exercise, make time for those activities that light me up and solve issues or get rid of problem clients when they pop up.
Audrey Walker Blackburn is an accountant, wife and mother that works with businesses to help them make money and have a healthy bottom line. She is an entrepreneur and the president of Blackburn Consulting, LLC. She enjoys traveling, cars (fast ones!), and spending time with friends and family. You can find Audrey at BlackburnConsultingNC.com.
Michele Mere Knew Complete Burnout!
First, I had to get past my immediate denial and the excessive amount of time I was spending in bed. I was in avoidance that was making it worse.
Second, I made a big list of every single thing I had going on – tasks, projects, and responsibilities for each of my businesses and as a mom, grandmother, and daughter.
Third, I had to make the hard decisions about what to stop, what to delegate and what to continue. This was by far the hardest thing because for me it was the realization that I had built this massive business that I didn't enjoy. I had a big team, a lot of clients and I was miserable.
Fourth, I had to actually pull the trigger. It wasn't easy but I made the necessary changes and my life changed. And along the way, I figured out what I actually wanted.
Michele Mere is a decisive, driven and committed serial entrepreneur who helps successful business owners create passive income streams so they can stop working so hard and start enjoying the benefits of entrepreneurship. Her clients call her “The Results Lady.” As a business strategist, she uses her signature “Decisive Minds Business Building Method” to help entrepreneurs create profitable businesses. You can find Michele at DecisiveMinds.com.
Lou Bortone Recharges With Peers
I definitely have bouts of burn out… some times worse than others. I think my burnout comes from having been in the corporate world, where my progress (and pay) was always on an upward trajectory. I could pretty much count on raises and making more money every year…
Obviously, self-employment is a whole different animal, with ups and downs and zigzags.
So my burnout is usually a result of fluxes of income. I get fried when I work really hard to create a product or course and it doesn't sell as well as I'd hoped. It can be very disheartening… So I retreat… don't ask for help… withdraw – all the things I SHOULDN'T do!
However, when I reconnect with peers and colleagues – especially in person _ that's when I get recharged and bounce back.
So events where there are other online marketers or entrepreneurs help get me back on track – Because they “get” me and have been through the same thing.
So I try not to let the “pity party” last too long and have a “peer party” instead!
Lou Bortone has been a pioneer and thought leader in the video space since the launch of YouTube in 2005. He’s helped thousands of entrepreneurs and companies create and leverage online video to build their brands and dramatically grow their revenues. Lou is a popular speaker, author, and ghostwriter of six business books. He’s also the author of “Video Marketing Rules: How to Win in a World Gone Video.” You can find Lou at LouBortone.com.
Lynette Chandler Felt Truly Lost
Absolutely. It was so bad, it lasted over a year, making that year one of the worst. I remember ringing in the new year with so much anguish, I cried buckets New Year’s Eve. I felt lost. Adrift. Uncertain why I’m doing what I’m doing. No clue where I was headed to and no idea how to get back on the horse. Actually, I didn’t know if I even had a horse anymore. Some days, it felt like I’ve been riding someone else’s horse. Other days he was nowhere to be found.
For over a year, I coasted. And then I’d try giving myself a pep talk, square up my shoulders and say “You can get past this. You’ve done it before.” But it was all manufactured passion. Deep down, I knew this is a burn out like no other. One that signals a closing of a chapter and an opening of a new one. So I did. Started a whole new venture and it has been ah-mazing.
Lynette Chandler is a WordPress Expert, Web Designer, and Journal/Planner Designer. She has been mixing technology and marketing as a hobby long before she turned it into a successful work from home career. She is all about ways to use technology to make products (like WordPress plugins) that work well for marketing purposes. You can find Lynette at TechBasedMarketing.com and ThriveAnywhere.com.
Karin Crompton Knows Highs & Lows
Burnout is a sign that something's off. And thus far, it's not something I can power through. There's no effective strategy to muscle past the situation or reframe it or focus better or to have more fun or to delegate. It's just gotta go. The best I can do is catch the signals early and course correct.
Of course, I learned this by repeatedly catching them too late.
First major crash: In my mid-20s, I was working at a newspaper in Connecticut. I was a sportswriter when there weren't yet a ton of women sportswriters, and it was fun. A former three-sport athlete, I started out covering the local high school teams I had grown up competing against, and I knew the coaches and the schools.
Sports are amazing to write about. Not only are the games themselves fun to cover, but I enjoyed everything about the mindset and the goal-setting that athletes need to have. The narratives are dreamy.
And the highs could be pretty high. I once went inside the New York Yankees clubhouse. In 1995, I covered the University of Connecticut women's basketball team during their first unbeaten, national championship season. I enjoyed sitting courtside, wearing a press credential, being able to walk onto the floor, interviewing coaches and players … it was pretty heady being behind the scenes.
But there was another side. I was churning out copy every day, often multiple stories. I didn't fully enjoy the national championship game because I had four stories to send on deadline to a cranky editor (who may or may not butcher my words without a heads-up). I worked nights and weekends and holidays. The pay wasn't great. The atmosphere can be sarcastic and cynical.
And I found I didn't care as much about sports as I should have. I loved to participate, but I quickly learned I didn't love to watch as much as the other writers did. I wanted to go for a drink and talk about something else. I didn't care to quote stats or debate Greatest Player or pick apart some baseball games from 1954. I didn't want to watch games on my days off.
I wondered how I'd have a healthy family life while working these hours and concluded that I didn't want most of what I saw in my office.
A few years in, the job had become incredibly, painfully, difficult. I dreaded going in. I became one of those people who pseudo-cheerfully reply, “Hanging in there!” when asked how they're doing.
I remember an aunt asking me whether I was writing — meaning, was I writing anything for me? I felt guilty telling her I wasn't, and stumbling through an explanation about being so spent when I got home that I had no desire or brainpower to write anything else.
That was a clue: I had nothing left. Writing, the thing that had brought me joy and served as therapy when I was younger, had become way too hard. My energy was sapped. The excitement was gone. My body felt heavy. And my brain? Permanently fogged.
That's burnout for me. It's a heaviness. Everything feels soggy and weighed down: my body, my thoughts, my motivation. The thing I think I “need” to do becomes something I dread, fear, and resent.
I wish I could say I found a way to refocus or to approach that job with more joy, but that's not what happened. I quit. And the only regret I have is that I didn't plan my next move well enough and quickly fell into financial trouble.
I was still an amateur when it comes to burnout. I got too far into it and became paralyzed. Today I usually recognize the symptoms sooner and realize how to make course corrections earlier. I know the difference between needing to drop something completely versus needing to tweak it. And I know what essence feels like — essence is the antidote.
Karin Crompton is a writer from CT who helps others unlock their stories to add more compelling content to their websites. You know — living an examined life and paying attention to the words we use, whether it’s in our writing, our thoughts, what we read, or what we watch. You can find Karin at 2FavoriteParts.com.
Kimberley Wiggins Gained Powerful Insight
When I experienced a long bout of burnout for almost a year, it was surreal to me. I couldn't fully understand what was happening and why. I felt like I was at one of my lowest points and I was struggling to grow a business as well. It wasn't fair! I felt unloved, unworthy and couldn't find a way to love my business anymore. It was very difficult! But I am very thankful and grateful today for what I learned in that “wilderness” experience. Going through it was indeed very difficult but the insight I gained while passing through was golden. I learned three very important things that continue to help me when I am aware that I am sinking into a burnout experience.
What I've learned is:
- It doesn't last forever. Yes, it's important for me to acknowledge that it's just a phase and it will pass. That helped me to keep the faith in the midst of it all.
- The more action I create in my life, the quicker the phase will pass. Why? Because it gets my body, mind, and soul focused on something outside of that experience. Taking action, even small minimal ones, will help to move you past it.
- This is probably the most important of them all, that you have a support system in place that is pushing you of it and pulling you through it so you don't get stuck there in the burnout too long. Being aware and practicing good self-care are great preventive measures that help you identify when it's about to hit.
Kimberley Wiggins is an empowerment business coach and the owner of Inspired Women Amazing Lives currently residing in Mableton, GA where she is a Mother, Grandmother, and Fitness & Self-Love Advocate. She hosts the Inspired Women Amazing Lives Podcast where she interviews inspiring businesswomen who are living amazing lives as an example for other aspiring businesswomen. You can find her at InspiredWomenAmazingLives.com
Dina Hyde Felt Topic Burnout
I got burned out on talking about copywriting. I thought that I should just keep on posting articles about copywriting and marketing for my website, when I was targeting that phrase and other related phrases. Not only that, but I also got the idea that I should use an authoritative tone based on what I saw other marketers doing. Then I was going on social networks and talking about copywriting some more, thinking that if I shared my vast expertise, I could gain more clients.
Well… after years of talking about copywriting nonstop, I just burned out the topic. Sure, I still love to write sales copy and informative articles. Writing's my joy. If people want me to write their copy, fantastic! If they have someone else in mind.. that's great, too. But I will definitely never be involved in an online debate about copywriting again. And I'm good with that.
Dina Hyde is a copywriter. She sells rebrandable coaching courses, done-for-you blog posts & PLR articles at Wordfeeder.com
Now About Me: Have I Ever Felt Burned Out?
I can honestly say, I've never had the thought ‘I'm burned out' about my business. The more stories I hear from friends, the more curious I get about why that is.
Variety is one way I've avoided burnout. My business is brimming with it. When I'm tired of one thing I can switch to doing something else.
Outsourcing is another inoculation against burnout for me. I don't care for repetitive work in general and get antsy with projects that have too many steps involved. I cheerfully pay someone else to take care of these tasks for me – if they absolutely have to be done.
Then there's my complete willingness to swing the ax on projects that don't live up to my expectations. If I refused to let things go, I'd soon be burned out, that's for sure.
Saying I've never been burned out is not the same as saying I've never taken myself to the edge, overworked or had days when I just couldn't face a project. That happens with me as much as anyone. I see this as a normal part of being an entrepreneur. I operate in seasons of hustle and rest.
Let's Hear Your Experience!
Please add your personal stories about burnout in the comments!