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What’s Your Plan for Avoiding Burnout?

by Michael Iverson

Working closely with entrepreneurs, I think I can say that most enjoy their work to a high degree.  As a group, they are upbeat and passionate about business.  Most control their workplace environments, their hours of operation, and the people who work with them.  All of those things make coming to work a lot more pleasant.

At the same time, many entrepreneurs have the capacity to be obsessive.  The very trait that drives so many of them to succeed can also lead them to work extremely long hours and experience bouts of anxiety.  The combination of long hours and anxiety is a recipe for burnout.

Caution: Burnout Ahead

Several years ago, I came across an Inc. magazine article entitled Ten Signs You’re Headed for Burnout.  Here are a few of the warning signs that are most common among business owners.

Anyone experiencing one or more of these signs is either already suffering from burnout, or it’s just around the corner.

Strategies to Beat Burnout

To beat burnout, you need to eliminate the factors that contribute to it. Sounds simple enough, right?  But, it’s not.  The tendencies that brought you to the brink of burnout must be confronted, and that may cause you some discomfort in the near term.

Relinquish Some Measure of Control – This is a tough one for most business owners.  The need to be on top of all aspects of the business is part of your DNA.  Are you able to give up a little control for the sake of your well-being?

Short-term:  Make an honest assessment (perhaps with the help of an objective outsider) of how you can offload one significant responsibility to a member of your team.  As an example, one self-contained project that makes sense for some owners to offload is implementing a new technology to improve the business.  If you understand the benefits to be gained, is it necessary to be involved in the nuts and bolts of implementation?  Why not assign that responsibility to a capable staff member or business partner?

Long-term:  On the TV show Star Trek, the captain’s most reliable surrogate was referred to as Number Two. Owners who develop a reliable Number Two at work are able to achieve a better sense of work/life blend.

Make Your Health a Top Priority – If it’s not already a priority, commit to this important lifestyle change.  Daily exercise is the best way to relieve stress.  Ask your doctor about the right exercise for you and work it into your daily routine.  Meet with a dietician to address easy ways to avoid bad eating habits.  Eliminate electronic devices from your bedtime routine as a way to improve your sleep.

Take Time Away – It is absolutely essential to get away from work to sharpen your most important tools – your mind and body.  Steven Covey author of the book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” refers to it as sharpening the saw.  Refresh both by giving yourself some well-deserved rest.  Experience something new and out-of-the-ordinary as a way to renew your spirit of adventure.  Take vacation if that’s all you can manage at the moment.  If you are in position to take more time, consider a short leave of absence.


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