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I’m not sure about you, but I start to feel really tired this time of year… not sure if it’s the holiday rush, the weight of the entire year or the daylight savings fiasco (it is literally dark by 4 p.m. here in Oregon now), but it always hits me right about now. This year was different though; it was more than just the seasonal “being tired.” I realized I was burnt out.
Being an entrepreneur can be stressful, and we’re human — we can only take so much. Between marketing, payroll, taxes, inventory, family, friends, holidays, taking care of ourselves and the million other things that are going on in our lives, there’s a good chance burnout will happen. But, what if we could do things to recharge and refresh to avoid it?
Because burnout is so common in entrepreneurs, I wanted to share my experience and tips for bouncing back from it. If you’ve been reading my articles, there’s a good chance that you already know the last few years have been tough for me — both personally and professionally — and I think it finally hit me. Hard.
My shoulders were in a constant knot, resulting in headaches; my skin was awful — and I mean awful. I developed a mild case of eczema brought on by stress … on my face. I was irritable and tired and just extremely burnt out overall.
Related: Understanding Entrepreneurial Burnout (And How to Deal With It)
I knew I needed some time off, but as you know, taking time off as a business owner is pretty hard (not to mention, I just brought on three new clients … which is fantastic, but not ideal for taking time off). Such a simple task, yet so often unattainable. But, I honestly knew if I didn’t take some time off, it was only going to get worse. So, I automated as much as I could so that things kept running smoothly without me having to be involved as much as I normally am. Plus, with it being the week of Thanksgiving, I knew things would be slow.
And it was amazing. I let my phone die (gasp). Multiple times (double gasp). I slept in until 10 a.m. a few times — it has been years (definitely pre-kids) since the last time that happened!
I ate way more than I normally do and didn’t feel guilty about it. I drank delicious wines that I picked out and really enjoyed them. I took the time to drink and eat slowly instead of rushing through a pot of coffee for breakfast and eating lunch in front of my computer.
If you haven’t taken some time in a while, you need to. You deserve it! Figure out a way to automate as many tasks as you can or have someone close to you that you trust take over, even partially, while you recharge. I can honestly say that I’m refreshed and ready to take on 2022!
Here are some tips that can help you get ready to tackle 2022 too.
1. Get clear
Get really clear on what you’re doing and why. I spent a good bit of time reflecting these past few weeks on where I want my business to go in 2022, what I need to do to get there and why I want to do it. It was a great exercise that really helped me reduce stress because I now had a very clear goal and from there I was able to map out how to get there.
Take some time and think about your priorities. Then, think about your time. Are you able to achieve your priorities with the time you have available? If not, what needs to change? What can you improve? What do you need to add or let go to get there?
This helps you focus on what you really want to do in your business so that you can stop wasting time, energy and money on things that aren’t serving your purpose. Do you want to spend more time with your family? Do you want to make more money? Do you want to add new products or services to your business this year? Figure out what they are and write them down. Then, map out what needs to be done to get there.
Like I said above, I let my phone die multiple times, and it was amazing. There wasn’t a constant urge to check my phone. I didn’t jump when I heard a notification buzz. I was able to be present with my family. Don’t get me wrong: I still checked my phone and responded to things if I needed to. But, I didn’t let it rule me, which I have a bad habit of doing. I knew there were certain times where I could just keep it off, and I did. It was awesome.
Maybe try letting your phone die every once in a while or turn it off at 7 p.m. and just unplug for the rest of the night. Also, try to avoid checking it first thing in the morning. I noticed a huge difference when that wasn’t the first thing I was doing in the morning. Seriously, unless you’re in a profession where emergencies happen quite often, try it!
Related: How to Spot Entrepreneurial Burnout (Before It’s Too Late)
Since I had been feeling so bad and tired, I hadn’t really been running or exercising. Let’s face it, who wants to go run when you feel like crap and have a pounding headache? So, to be honest, my running has been sporadic over the last year, and I wasn’t looking forward to getting back out there. I knew it was going to be hard because it had been so long.
But, I’m glad I did it. It sucked, but it made me remember why I do it. I felt like I accomplished something, broke a heavy sweat (which always feels cleansing) and was reminded that it’s my space to get creative and dream big. Many of my ideas come when I’m running. It’s just an overall good experience; it also helps that knot in my shoulder loosen up a bit!
Whatever you’re into — running, hiking, swimming, golf, etc. — go do it. Even if you can only squeeze it in for a short time. It is amazing how much better it can make you feel. It also helps your health in the long run. Has it been a few years? Start small. Been putting it off because it will be hard? Stop overthinking it and just go do it. You’ll feel and see results, not just in your body, but in your mindset as well!
4. Find mentors
This is a big one because as entrepreneurs this road can be lonely at times. There are just things that we go through that others may not understand. Have you thought about hiring a coach? I’ve heard great things about having a coach to guide you, but I haven’t tried it. There are tons out there. Do some research and find one that would work for you.
Not everyone has the money or desire to hire a coach though. If that’s the case, find some people that you can follow that provide motivation and useful information for you and your business. For example, two people that I closely follow are Gary Vaynerchuk and Lewis Howes. Both provide motivation, inspiration (which we can all use) and actionable business strategies that I do actually use in my business! They don’t know me, but that’s ok — maybe one day!
5. Connect with others
This is a big one. Sometimes we tend to work so much that we forget to just unwind and connect. Missed that annual camping trip because you couldn’t get away? Maybe you missed a fun trip to the beach for the same reason. It’s understandable that we have to miss certain things because we have a lot to take care of, but we need to take time to just be ourselves — not entrepreneurs.
So, try to schedule a fun activity with friends or family that you haven’t seen in a while. Maybe plan a trip and what you need to do in order to be able to take that time off. Or maybe just some drinks to catch up. You’ll feel so much better after!
Related: How Time Management Can Help You Avoid Burnout
Now, get ready to rest up and start the New Year like you never have before.