A few simple strategies can help you stay on track and avoid the seemingly inevitable burnout.
Owning a business is both a demanding task and taxing endeavor. It doesn’t matter if you’re a one-person show or a C-Suite executive: stress levels can become overwhelming and debilitating. During my first two years of running a startup, there were times I felt like burying my head in the sand and second guessing my judgment in taking on this endeavor. But at the end of the day, I’m happy I stuck with it as the rewards far outweigh the efforts.
As I approach year five of running my business, I’m recognizing that in the early stages of development I put far too much effort into my decision-making process. I would frequently turn myself into a nervous wreck by worrying about all the outcomes of a decision I’d already made. More often than not, I would use up all my energy pinpointing the hazardous potentials of a decision rather than preparing myself with any necessary solutions in advance. As you would expect, this had a negative impact on both my business and my physical health.
I found myself unintentionally neglecting tasks that required immediate attention and ignoring my health. Once I came to terms with my shortcomings, however, I made some minor adjustments that proved to give major results. The following are two strategies I used that helped me tremendously with avoiding an entrepreneurial meltdown, and although there is no “right way” to handle all the tasks of running a business, I think you’ll find these methods to be incredibly helpful.
Map Out Resolutions
As I mentioned previously, I would often waste valuable time and energy overanalyzing and scrutinizing my every decision. Let me be clear, there is no place for this in running a successful business, and once I came to that conclusion it took a heavy weight off my shoulders. What has assisted me in my decision-making has been to take a step back and literally write down on a piece of paper two potential outcomes: one of them positive, one of them neutral. I have made it a point not to recognize anything in a negative manner; rather, I label it as “neutral” assuming it will provide less favorable results.
Even when everything doesn’t go according to plan (and I can assure you it won’t), there is always another avenue you can take that may just be a blessing in disguise. Once you have your potential outcomes listed, write down the best solution to each one and force yourself to run with it. That way, you are ready for any curveballs that may be thrown your way and you won’t stress yourself out with finding a viable solution when you already have one in place.
Give Yourself a Break
I mean this both physically and psychologically. Give yourself a pat on the back for recognizing that you have just educated yourself through experience, which is I’ve found to prove more valuable than anything provided in school.
On the flip side, it’s also important to release your mind and body from the daily operations of running your business. Just like a computer, if your brain is working on overdrive 24/7, it has the potential to shut down. You need to give it time to reset to avoid the possibility of a burnout.
This didn’t come easily to me initially because in the first few years, since bootstrapping was a key factor to my business’s success. Though vacations may need to be few and far between, it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t take a breather, even if it’s just in your own home. My wife was a pro at turning our home into a one- or two-day retreat. If there’s only one thing I could thank her for, pushing me to take a much-needed break would be it.
Although there are many other factors that come into play, these two points were incredibly useful for easing the pressure. There are still some times that I catch myself reverting back to my old ways, but when this happens I like to reference one of my favorite quotes from Elbert Hubbard: “The greatest mistake you can make in life is continually fearing that you’ll make one.”
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
Image credit: CC by D. Sinclair Terrasidius