Being your own boss can be a very rewarding experience, but I am of the opinion that burnout is a very real occupational hazard on that pursuit. One can easily find a myriad of thought leadership pieces with advice on avoiding the potential pitfalls of running a small business, and although this is important, little attention is given to the dealing with the reality that is burnout.
This phenomenon became very real to me recently, at which point I had to decide whether or not my hunger to succeed would come at the cost of my health and sanity. Fortunately, nature intervened and when simple bodily functions began failing me, I was forced to take a step back to reflect.
Focus on what is important
With so many things vying for your attention, it is of vital importance to always make the distinction between what is important, and what is urgent.
With a clearly defined, vivid, image of where I would like to take my business, I use the following guiding questions:
- Will this get me closer to achieving my goal?
- Do I have to do it now?
Anything that fails on the first question is frankly unnecessary, and a shortcoming on the second question should be delayed.
Outside of being privileged enough to have a personal assistant, being organised can save you time and unnecessary stress.
I would advise creating or finding a system that works for you in terms of the following:
- Documenting your thoughts.
- Managing your schedule.
- Managing client relationships.
More important than finding what works for you, is applying it consistently.
Do things that energise you
Outside of your daily activities related to the business, it’s critical to do more of the things that make you happy. I am alluding to those activities that leave you more energised after doing them, which can range from sporting activities, other hobbies, or just spending time with loved ones.
If time stops for you while doing it, you’re definitely on the right track in this regard!
We all need an outlet
In my understanding, some of the fundamental needs that people have are to be acknowledged, understood, accepted, and respected; meaning that we need human interaction.
This being said, avoid navigating ‘the road less travelled’ in isolation, and this can be done by surrounding yourself with people on the same mission because they will be able to relate. I meet for breakfast once a week with a group of people also running their own businesses, and besides holding each other accountable, having them as a sounding board has proven to be invaluable.
It’s okay to take time off
I was one of the casualties of the guilt associated with taking downtime. Thinking back, I did so out of some sense of paranoia that while I was relaxing, the competition was working tirelessly on refining their offering.
The truth is that you need to take time out to refresh your mind every single day, because this is when you synthesise and mentally digest information about what has happened, and plan your next moves with a clear mind.
Never forget that the aim is to enjoy the journey, because that is true success!