When Burnouts Strikes...And What To Do About It

December 04, 2016

As an entrepreneur fueled with the drive to grow your business, it’s both easy and dangerous to ignore the signs of “job burnout” when it rears it’s ugly head.

Blame it on the A

Defined by The Mayo Clinic as a state of “physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work”, burnout often starts with the intoxicating adrenaline rush of pursuing one’s passion professionally. In a  2014 piece for Entrepreneur.com Sandi Krakowski, CEO and founder of A Real Change International nails it when she describes “The ‘rush’ that entrepreneurs talk about” as “a place of ‘flow’ where things come together, and seem effortless.”

Converts are especially at risk of riding the adrenaline wave into rough waters. Free from the golden handcuffs of previous comfortable yet uninspiring jobs, new entrepreneurs are buoyed to new levels of productivity. Add the inspiration that comes from working a small and plucky team of people with shared passion for bringing a growing company’s vision to life, work is finally FUN. Why go out to lunch when the team can order in and keep the good times rolling?  If it’s not dark when you leave your workspace, are you really winning at startup life? As Vince Lombardi once said “Winners never quit and quitters never win right?”

When reality strikes 

While winners never quit, they do pace themselves.  “Adrenaline can push you forward, but too much of it can drain you completely,” startup coach Scott Eddy shares in his blog post Are Entrepreneurs The Real Adrenaline Junkies. When we fail to focus on the limitations of our humanity, symptoms of burnout begin to emerge. It becomes difficult to focus on any one task.  Your emails become less succinct and laden with typos. When brainstorming with your team, the ideas that sound so grand in your mind come out sounding…well…something like this comical cautionary scene from HBO’s Silicon Valley.

To make matters worse, the personal relationships that are most needed to get through difficult times have likely already taken a beating.  Even the closest of  friends can only take so many cancelled dinner plans. Chances are your family is tired of the way you lurch toward the buzz of your mobile phone with the frenzied reflex of a new parent waking up to a crying baby. In the absence of adrenaline, the tension and pressure of trying to hold things together could even impact your long term health, leaving you at higher risk of suffering from chronic exhaustion, depression and even heart disease in the long term.

Stay self-aware to prevent burnout

The key to preventing burnout is staying committed to recognizing one’s limitations with the same drive, focus, and discipline it takes to start a successful business. Next time you feel the urge to cancel another happy hour or skip another workout, remember that your mental and physical well being is your business’ most important resource. Compared risking everything you and your team have built, what’s missing an arbitrary deadline or two?