If you have ever worked for someone else, you know how tempting it is to look at the boss and think that he or she ‘has it easy’. After all, she gets to come and go as she pleases while you do all the hard work as she talks with the customer and then judges you on your performance. You don’t have much, if any, say-so about how she runs the business. How hard can her job be?
Assuming you have more than just a few years experience under your belt, chances are you have revised your opinion about the boss having it so easy. Many employees see only that the boss can tell them what to do then visit the golf course whenever he wants. What they don’t see is what you know: being responsible for the success of a business is a task that can wear you out, take a toll on personal relationships, and affect your health negatively. While an employee may be able to labor from eight to five - and leave their work at the office - as the boss, your work follows you wherever you go and can actually lead to burnout.
is the term applied to someone who experiences long-term exhaustion and loss of interest in a particular activity. In this article, that activity is work. Symptoms of burnout include:
- Constant exhaustion, tiredness or feeling physically rundown
- Excessive self-criticism
- Negativity, depression, cynicism
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Blowing up over inconsequential things
- Physical symptoms such as stomach problems, weight gain or loss, inability to sleep or sleeping excessively, shortness of breath
- Feelings of helplessness
- Carelessness, excessive risk taking
Does any of this sound like you? Has your American dream of business ownership turned into a nightmare that is consuming your life? Do you know anyone to whom this may apply? If so, read on because there is hope. There are some simple steps you or they can take to avoid or begin to recover from burnout.
Be True to Yourself
Remember the excitement you felt at starting a new job or opening your business? The world was your oyster and you were out to harvest the pearls - on your own terms and in your own time. Fast forward to now, when you realize that you’ve had to compromise some of your principles to gain a competitive advantage or simply keep your customers. And that bit about doing things in your own time…well, that only applies if your time is the same as that of your suppliers and customers.
Most of us start a new business with great hope. Sure, there are fears to overcome, but hope wins out and we put our entire being into building a successful business. Later, though, we learn that the demands on our time can become unbearable. We start wondering why our spouses and children can’t see that we work hard, because we are doing it for them. How else will we afford to give them the things they want and need to keep up with their peers? In extreme cases, we lose that which we hold the most dearly – our families.
It’s no secret that you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of someone else, even in a business. Taking time to exercise, eat right, and get enough rest is essential to avoiding burnout. Allowing yourself to be constantly under stress - without any kind of break - is a recipe for disaster. Allow yourself the luxury (a/k/a necessity) of having ‘downtime’ when you can just relax and be you. The word “vacation” comes from the Latin term vacatio, which means freedom from something. Similarly, “recreation” comes from the Latin recreatio, meaning to restore or rejuvenate. When was the last time you were free from the cares of running a business or took time to restore even a little bit of your sanity?
What are your core values? Have you been forced to ignore those values in order to build your business? Take a look at what you feel is important in life and make sure your business is helping you to support those values rather than pulling you away from them. It is a certainty that the stress of living with a situation that violates your principles will wear you down quickly and completely.
Are you one of those people who hold things in? Are emotions luxuries that you think you cannot afford? If so, think again. Don’t allow little things that irritate you from day to day build into mountains that can only be cleared away with dynamite. Sometimes, we feel that putting up with others’ idiosyncrasies or fixing their mistakes, without confronting them about their errors, are a price we must pay for peace. All this does is eventually cause an even greater problem. It’s best to deal with problems as they arise before they deal you or your company a fatal blow. Remember, you are the business owner and you have the right to communicate your expectations to your employees and have them met.
The Slightest Change can do Wonders
A management consultant once suggested to his staff that doing the same thing over and over again would cause unneeded stress. Something as simple as varying the route they take to work would reduce that stress. The consultant was right.
If you find yourself doing the same thing over and over again, the rut you are in can lead towards burnout. Try to vary what you do. Find ways to improve or change your product or service. Perhaps there is a better way to deliver your product or service. Not only will a slight change help reduce your stress; the resulting improvements could increase your profits.
Do you feel like you are always pressed for time? Maybe you need to take a look at your time management skills and make a few changes. The failure to accomplish what you really value during a day puts a damper on how you feel about the success of your day - and yourself. Find ways to take care of what you feel are the priorities and let go of an inability to get to less meaningful tasks.
It is said that laughter is the best medicine. Though it can be hard sometimes, try to find humor in your day. The business of running your company is very serious, but there is generally a lighter side to the day in which you can take some pleasure. It’s these little moments that can make work fun and, when you enjoy your work, you are far less likely to experience burnout.
When you started your business one, two or five years ago, did you think it would be where it is today? If the going has been tough, you can at least celebrate the victory of still being in business. Establish milestones in your business and take time to celebrate reaching them.
Let’s face it, running a business is extremely tough and can wear you down quickly. Make sure you take measures to reduce the effects of the day-to-day stress and achieve success in both your business and personal life. Don’t forget that part of the stress comes from the financial needs and challenges inherent in any business. If you need help in managing those commitments, give us a call. We can help you control the stress and enjoy your life more!