Hello from the kitchen table, my "office" for the past 7 months. It's been an awesome start to an amazing new career chapter.
But, as great as being a solopreneur has been so far, I worry that I'm precariously susceptible to burnout. The computer is always on (on my lap that is!), I am juggling multiple deadlines that never seem to end, and wearing the ten thousand hats necessary to run my own business.
Now don't get me wrong, I am in L.O.V.E. with being an entrepreneur, it's just some days taking a breath feels like a luxury.
And I'm sure you've felt similarly stressed at points in your life. I've coached so many people who are either already burned-out or are about 2 steps away from being there. You know the signs: you're tired, feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated to do anything because you've got just too much on your plate.
These feelings of exhaustion that come from having too much to do, they eventually lead you right smack up to burnout's front door. Heck, they'll even ring the doorbell for you.
How has burnout become such a familiar state?
Well, I’ve noticed that a lot of people will give and give and give to everyone: their kids, family, friends, neighbors and co-workers until they have nothing left over for themselves. Selflessness isn’t a bad thing, of course, but it is like ice cream—only healthy in moderation.
Folks, you’re most helpful to others when you’ve helped yourself first.
Before you say “I’m too busy” or “I don’t have time for myself,” let me just say that this doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive. You can start investing in yourself right away with these simple strategies that won’t cost you a dime.
“Do something today that your future self will thank you for.”
1. Watch Less TV at Home
I know, that Game of Thrones episode is calling your name. But let’s be honest, how good do you actually feel after zoning out in front of the screen for hours on end? If you’re like me, you’re lethargic, brain-dead and stuffed full of snacks you’ve mindlessly munched on….
I'm telling you, every minute of television you watch is one less minute you've spent being productive. Try going TV-free for a week or two and see what happens. Heck, try skipping it for just one day.
I gave up TV so many years ago and, yes, I am a social idiot when the conversation moves to what's going on with the latest and greatest TV show, but I've got to believe that this time invested differently will have a greater payoff in my life.
2. Get Moving
It’s hard to be at your best if you’re not giving your body the TLC it deserves. That’s like expecting your car to run perfectly without a set of good tires and regular oil changes.
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”
I get it. We’re all busy. We have jobs, kids, hobbies, friends. But the truth is we aren't getting any younger! The attention you give your body now translates to less pain and problems down the line. Plus, exercise can make you happier, healthier, more confident, and a better sleeper - who doesn't want all that?!
So get out and find your happy body-in-motion place. Mine is out running on a trail, but maybe yours is a good long walk or hitting the Pilates gym. Find what works for you but find something that gets your heart beating.
3. Learn Something New
I'm testing this one out for myself, trying to do something I've never done before at least every couple of months. Well, this is month number one and I signed up for an adult co-ed soccer league. Yikes! I've never played soccer before, but what the heck.
Learning something new puts your brain back into creative development mode. It forces you to think and work in new ways and that alone is a motivation booster right there.
When burnout looms, chances are it's because we've been stuck on autopilot a bit too long. Find something new to try, mix up your social life, venture out and discover somewhere you've never been. All of these will help push your brain back into gear.
4. Find Something That Scares You (and Go Do It)
“Your largest fear carries your greatest growth.”
What’s one thing that gets your heart racing? Going on a blind date? Public speaking? Sliding down the Sky Slide 1,000 feet in the air?
The things we’re most scared of usually challenge us to grow the most. They force us to believe in ourselves, become comfortable with being uncomfortable, and push our boundaries until we realize that we’re more capable than we ever thought.
So go to that networking event, sign up for that Toastmaster group, or tell your manager that you’re willing to handle the next big project that comes along. It might be scary as hell, but I bet that you’ll be glad you did it afterward.
Don’t Let Burnout Get the Best of You
You have to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help others. Doing what’s best for you every day isn’t selfish; it’s the best way to give 100% to others.
“Make the most of yourself… for that is all there is of you.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson