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Running on empty & dealing with burnout

Brrr

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Jul 28, 2019
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Hi Guys, I just wanted to take a moment to get the forum's thoughts on burnout and just the feeling of running on empty.

I know there was a great thread going on about entrepreneurial depression and the like, but I wanted to just discuss this one specific aspect of entrepreneurship. To give context I operate a seasonal business and am coming to the end of my second season, I've worked flat out for around 150 straight days from anything between 10-16 hour days (maybe the odd 6 hour day for special events and occasions) and am starting to really feel it now. It is partly due to me seeing the "end" in sight, but I just feel like I am running through the motions and have lost drive and creativity to lead and do as well as I should.

For me the main symptoms are:
  • Permanent fatigue
  • Loss of focus and clarity
  • Decreased motivation
  • Missing the "spark"
I feel like this is all normal, and in fairness, I've gone through major developments for the business that has required me to step it up multiple times in the last few months. Nonetheless, I still am annoyed at myself for not being able to keep up the same level of performance and I often feel like I'm on the verge of negative spiraling thoughts. I wanted to know your opinion on the topic of burnout, in particular:
  • When is burnout appropriate and to be expected?
  • Does everyone get burnout?
  • Are some people immune to it?
  • How do you increase your "capacity" to do work before burning out?
  • What is the best way to "reset"?
I have around another 30 days of solid work before I wind it down for 2019, a nice relaxing holiday has been booked and I know that's going to do the trick to reset my mind but I often feel like I'm still too weak and would love to hear other peoples experience with this.
 

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broswoodwork

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I'm in the same boat. As near as I can figure, we self-employed guys need to find a way to fire ourselves from one job at a time in our businesses.

The big guys talk about it all the time; "work on your business, not in your business," but we stubbornly forge ahead.

Did you come up with any ideas to streamline your business since this thread? EXECUTION - Let’s grow an ice cream business!
 

Esquire

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This is something I've been trying to overcome for years. Can't say I know the solution. If I did ... I wouldn't have the problem.

The best I can come up with is ...

One ... don't skimp on sleep. The effects of mental exhaustion seems ten times worse when paired with a sleep deficit. When I'm well rested ... it does not bother me as much. This to me means go downstairs, pull the shades and turn off the alarm. Wake up when your body tells you wake up ... and then sleep in a little more.

Second ... I like to break up the day. Get out. Take walks. Get some blood circulating. Refresh your mind. Sometimes I find a glass of wine cuts down on some of the mental exhaustion ... but if you have to press on, it can also make you sleepy. Something to consider.

The other thing I find that helps is flooding myself with ton of white light. There are about eight bright light bulbs pointing at my face at all times. For whatever reason, being flooded with light wakes me up and gives me the energy to push through whatever I need to do.

I guess the last thing I would add is do your best to eliminate and delegate the stuff that drives you nuts. It's not always possible. Sometimes you have to do some unpleasant things ... or at least I do. Just try to keep it at a minimum.
 
OP
OP
Brrr

Brrr

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Jul 28, 2019
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Did you come up with any ideas to streamline your business since this thread? EXECUTION - Let’s grow an ice cream business!
Not to derail, but yes and no. I've hired more people to do production and serving but in a sense, I've just upgraded my own job to mostly management (but I still end up the person that fills all the gaps) which has freed up a little time.

The freed up time, however, is not being used that efficiently. I almost feel like it's given me a bit of "ah finally some breathing room" in which I do some healthy stuff like working out and meal prep but also some time-wasting stuff. I should be really be putting in work to get stuff ready for next year, but it's hard to get myself to do it when I know I've got most of the winter to do it.

More relevant to the actual thread, I also don't feel like I am in the right mindset at the moment to do what is best for the business. I just don't feel like I'm properly functioning at the moment and that my decision making is compromised to some extent, I need to that break to reassess things properly and look at my business with fresh eyes, but I don't know if that is the wrong way to look at things or if it's a failure as a business owner to need scheduled breaks to reset or weather is a symptom of having a bad business or not a strong enough "why" or vision.

That's where the self-doubt comes in, you start to ask yourself "am I feeling this way because I'm building a bad business".
 

maverick

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Give yourself permission to unwind by allocating you-time. Take a walk in the park, play video games, watch netflix.. whatever works for you.

Nobody can sustain working on their business 24/7. 365 days a year.
 

Timmy C

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I find I have periods of months where I burst out of the gate sprinting, I am even shocked at what I can get done.

Then I burn out and still work, but go slower while I think about stuff.

Slowing downs alright you gotta enjoy life along the way a bit if you can.
 

broswoodwork

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That's where the self-doubt comes in, you start to ask yourself "am I feeling this way because I'm building a bad business".
It sounds like you're building an amazing business! The market has responded with so much love for you and what you do, that it wants more and more of you and your product. Inspiring really. :)

Can you take a 1 hour vacation everyday, boxed out with no intrusions, to celebrate you and what you've accomplished? It's a trick I learned from a therapist. Unfortunately, I only apply it sporadically, but when I do, I feel a bit more recharged.
 

Kung Fu Steve

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Tagging @Kung Fu Steve to see if he has thoughts
I have a lot of thoughts... a books worth at least... :rofl:

@Brrr to give you some context. I've dealt with burnout a bit.

First business was 5 years, 7 days a week 12-18 hours a day. Only day off was Christmas (if you can call drunken relatives a day off). It was really hard to turn that off... even after I did, I started up a new career in the personal development world... where I've been working again 16 hours days... and then I decided to buy a business on top of that... and do some coaching on the side...

Here's what I've learned:

There's a business strategy component, an emotional component, and a health component.

On the strategy side, I think you're already creating systems to get the business running more on autopilot (A great book for that is E-Myth Revisited). The reason McDonalds stores around the world can be run by 15 kids is because the systems and procedures are so on point that anybody could do it.

To teach this we explore what's called "the value chain". It's giant conversation and something I coach on quite a bit.


For the emotional side (usually the most draining part of it), keep close track of your beliefs and thoughts throughout the day. "There's light at the end of the tunnel" implies you're only doing this for "rockstar happiness" -- meaning you're only happy during the celebration.

Again, a much BIGGER conversation but the trick is not to achieve to be happy, but to happily achieve.

If life were perfect, how would you enjoy the process along the way?


Finally, the health part is probably the major one. I couldn't figure out what the hell was wrong with me. I was exhausted all the time. I couldn't keep up anymore. People started to tell me "well you're over 30 now" -- holy shit it was time to find new friends.

I got my blood tested and I was so out of whack -- it was clear why I felt like shit all the time. My adrenal glands were fried (which I can almost guarantee yours are now), my Vitamin D and Free Testosterone were through the floor, and my cortisol levels were all kinds of screwed up.

I get my blood tested every 90 days now. Do regular cleanses. Cut out caffeine completely, and really limit alcohol (and other inflammatory stuff like dairy and sugar).

It's dramatically shifted things for me. I'm actually excited to be back to work on my crazy schedule.


I did also take 2 "vacations" these last two months. I've never done that so it was cool. It was tough to disconnect mentally but I had some great friends and adventures to keep me preoccupied.
 
OP
OP
Brrr

Brrr

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Jul 28, 2019
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Thanks everyone for your great words of encouragement, perhaps I was just being extra hard on myself that day. I ended up giving myself a half-day off today to sort out my personal stuff and a cafe ended up contacting me to be supplied with my ice cream all over winter and for the summer, which is some nice news to have! (coincidentally happened to be an incredibly pretty Hungarian girl, but that is a side note)

@Kung Fu Steve yep the E-myth is basically my bible, it's my job for this winter to work on manuals and structure the biz. This last summer I was basically trying lots of different ideas to try and better understand what works and what doesn't, which is part of the reason why it's been so demanding and intense. I think that's given me a good understanding of the next steps.

I am loving the process 99% of the time, but I think you are right that I need to create a more sustainable and enjoyable growth process. I think the bloodwork and supplementation might be good ideas. Bit hard on the avoiding dairy and sugar part though haha
 

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