You used to love your job.
It was the reason you got out of bed in the morning. The reason you went home feeling satisfied and fulfilled at the end of the day. But somewhere along the line, something changed.
You’re stressed. You’re tired. You’re irritable. Now, that thing you used to enjoy doing feels increasingly like a chore. You’re doing something that would have been unthinkable just a few months ago – entertaining the idea of quitting.
You’re burnt out.
It happens more often than you’d think, especially to entrepreneurs. Yours is a difficult profession, given to long hours, high stress, and (in many cases) plenty of social isolation. These wear on you faster than you might realize, especially if you’re the kind of person who’s invigorated by social interaction.
All that is bad enough without accounting for the fact that entrepreneurs are far likelier to suffer from anxiety and depression, as well as a lovely ailment known as imposter syndrome. It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like; the nagging idea that you’re nothing more than a fraud and that everything you’ve achieved is invalid. I can’t count the number of talented, brilliant individuals I’ve met who, when I spoke to them about their passion, expressed the belief that they only accomplished what they did through dumb luck and good timing.
All of the above makes for a particularly nasty cocktail of suffering and stress. A constant, poisonous source of mental radiation nobody can endure for long. Once you’ve fallen into that pit, pulling yourself out can seem impossible.
But it isn’t.
Let Yourself Take A Break
Working seven-hour weeks is fine in small stints. In the long run, however, it’s not sustainable. You need to balance your personal life and professional life. You need to take breaks.
Ask yourself when the last time you took a vacation was. And I mean a genuine vacation, one in which you were completely disengaged from your career. No work emails, no quick meetings with clients, no small projects.
Just you, your loved ones, and a whole lot of relaxation. I imagine the answer is either “I can’t remember” or “never.” First thing’s first, that needs to change.
Find some activities that make you happy. Stuff you enjoy doing. Spend time with friends and family.
Do all these things for as long as it takes to get better – and don’t even think about work while you do.
Figure Out The Root Cause Of Your Burnout
If you only take away one thing from this piece, it should be this: everyone can benefit from therapy. If you suspect you’re suffering from burnout, look into mental health professionals in your area. Find one you think might have a good handle on what you’re feeling, and set up an appointment.
It doesn’t make you weak, nor does it make you flawed. Banish those thoughts from your mind – the stigma our society has built around mental illness is extremely toxic. If you broke your arm or suffered a heart attack, you’d think nothing of going to a doctor, right?
Then you should also think nothing of speaking to a professional, either.
It might take some time, but together you can figure out what caused you to burn out in the first place. Together, you can get back to your best self.
Therapy. Rest and relaxation. Time with friends and family. These are all critical to recovering from burnout – and to avoiding it in the future.
Moving forward, I’d recommend having at least one day a week where you do nothing that even remotely resembles work. Actively relax and spend time doing what you enjoy. That could be a passion project, a personal hobby, or just spending time with friends and family.
The important thing is that you do it. That you give yourself time to rest and recharge. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how talented or passionate you are.
You’re not a machine, and you shouldn’t treat yourself as one.