We’ve all been there… staring at the computer screen with a massive todo list staring back and feeling like your energy level is blinking on red.
Burnout isn’t just a feeling, according to the World Health Organization Burnout is a syndrome characterized by “feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.”
Getting to this mental state as a women entrepreneur is no day at the beach with a margarita in hand, it’s having responsibility and stress stare at your in the face with your hands tied. The experience is frustrating, exhausting and infuriating. The deeper you get into your burnout the harder it is to get out of it leading to the inevitable need to completely change your work environment, leave or job or close down your company.
As the WomenAmbition founder I understand first hand how this burnout feels when building a company or running a side hustle, jobs become demanding, companies hit roadblocks, family & friends demand our attention… I have to admit I’ve let the ball drop on more than one occasion. Learn more about how I overcame entrepreneur’s block.
To start us off, here are the four main areas that can take startup founders straight to burnout ville and ways to avoid each one!
1. Not all Entrepreneurs Are Workaholics
Overworking is a common theme for male and female entrepreneurs, which is typically glamorized for men… criticized for women. Many times it is because we are crazy passionate and get so obsessed with our work we can’t stop won’t stop but other times it’s because we have things that we simply can’t avoid doing. The more successful your business, the more clients you find, the more work that must get done and usually on a shoestring budget meaning the founder ends up being the wo(man) for the job. Seeing as women entrepreneurs receive only 2% of all VC funding, female founders will be forced to wear more hats than men who can delegate work out to their teams.
To avoid getting burnout from overworking you can:
- Delegate work: Do the tasks no one else on your team can do and delegate the rest, it’ll take time to perfect but is the only way to grow
- Prioritize work: Build realistic daily and weekly todo lists
- Say no: What a liberating word
- Plan your workload: How many hows can you realistically put in? Plan your todo list for that!
- Progress over perfection: Let go of perfection and prioritize progress
2. Is the Bang Worth The Buck? Pick Your Reward
Why did you start your company or project? Did you experience the problem first hand? Do you want to be your own boss? What intrinsic and extrinsic rewards are motivating you to keep moving forward when things get tough?
When the rewards of building your company doesn’t equal the amount of time, energy and money you’re putting into it then odds are you’re going to feel like it’s not worth it to continue. To avoid this type of burnout you need to define the rewards you’ll have when this company becomes successful. Will you have enough money to have more options? Will you gain the freedom to work from anywhere and travel the world? Will you make an impact on people’s lives? Define what is worth it to you early on so when the going gets tough you’re prepared to push through.
3. Choose Your Community
Who do you spend the most time with inside and outside of work? Who you surround yourself with is incredibly important, especially since burnout is so contagious. It could be your co-founder, employee or even partner that is filling you with negativity and draining your energy. Sometimes you can’t simply remove these people from your life or surroundings so instead try these techniques:
- Empathetic Listening: Ask them how they’re doing and listen to understand without judgement
- Personality assessments: Ask your whole team to take an assessment like this free personality test to better understand how everyone works
- Grow your community: Add more people to the team or join a mastermind group with people who can help balance you out and make you feel better. WomenAmbition’s online community if a good place to start here!
4. Connect Everything To Your Values
What are your personal values? Do they line up with your company’s values? Misaligned values is a quick and sure fire way to slowly get burnt out. You might not have the power to change your company’s values, especially if it’s just a job to earn money while you build your side hustle or company. So how can you avoid this?
By creating a mindmap that discovers multiple ways your current job can still connect with your values. Take one of our community members Lilly, she is building a sustainable fashion brand and working at a travel company. She’s feeling burnt out since she knows how much pollution travel adds to the environment and the company’s values are extremely misaligned with her own.
In order to avoid burnout Lilly builds a mindmap where she discovers the money she makes at the travel company will help to give people jobs in developing countries, educate people on sustainable fashion and help to lower the amount of waste in production. Not only that but her marketing role at the travel company will prepare her to run marketing campaigns for her sustainable fashion business, which is directly linked to her core values of both freedom to be her own boss and helping to increase sustainable fashion brands.
So, now we turn it over to you! How do you beat or avoid the burnout? Write your comment on this post to enter the contest for a $50 Airbnb gift card to escape and treat yourself to a new adventure!