In his sophomore year in high school, one of our sons achieved a 4.6 GPA on his way to gaining an International Baccalaureate Diploma. It was a great achievement, but it came at a heavy cost. Despite being over 6 ft tall, by graduation he weighed less than 120 lbs. The doctor diagnosed him as being medically malnourished, due to an unusual condition that meant he preferred to work than eat or sleep. His was a classic case of educational burnout.
Burnout: exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.
This type of burnout is unusual, but it is far more common amongst entrepreneurs, who are at risk of burnout because of their type-A personalities. Entrepreneurs tend to be very passionate about their work, and are willing to take high risks. They are often also more socially isolated. These factors combined with limited safety nets can lead to entrepreneurs, who already think they have a lot to prove to both themselves and their competitors, taking on too much.
Entrepreneurial burnout is quite sneaky, though. Because EVERY decision is on YOU, you often don’t know what’s coming until it has already arrived – so how can you tell when you’re on your way to getting burnt out?
Being in a mental fog or having a hard time focusing are the most common signs that you’re on the road to burnout. Becoming irritable or annoyed much more easily, is also a signal that you may be heading for burnout. In many cases this can also be accompanied by chronic fatigue which can slowly creep up on you, and serves as a red light that something is wrong and needs to change.
If you find yourself lying awake all night thinking about work, then waking up in the early hours, and unable to go back to sleep you will end up with insomnia. Insomnia can have a very serious impact on our physical and mental health; in fact, sleep deprivation can have a more negative impact on a person’s cognition than alcohol does. Insomnia will lead to fatigue and muscle aches, probably a weakened immune system and eventually depression. From here it’s a short trip to negative coping mechanisms such as overeating (leading to weight gain), abusing alcohol or drugs, or even spending an excessive amount of time in the gym. Feeling burned out at work won’t just affect your performance in the office but you will also start losing interest and passion for almost everything you once enjoyed. Unfortunately, if burnout gets to this stage, the only thing we can do is completely stop.
It is important to understand that we are more susceptible to burnout when we are driven by our work. They key to avoiding burnout is to recognize the signs we are heading in that direction and take quick action and not to wait until the problem gets out of hand.
“Self-awareness is your most important attribute.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
Recovery from burnout;
Although some cases of burnout require professional assistance, thankfully many entrepreneurs are able to recover by just taking a short break and making some minor lifestyle adjustments, before allowing things to go too far.
It is helpful to have a perspective on your lifestyle and dedicate regular time to rest, relaxation, and time with the family. I’d also encourage everyone to take up a hobby that allows them to get away from the work routine. Be especially wary of allowing your work to become your hobby.
At times we all feel frustrated, stressed, bored, resentful or even overworked, and probably experience mornings when simply getting out of bed is a challenge (especially during the Ohioan winter season). But if you feel like this most of the time, you may be dealing with burnout. Hopefully our tips in the article can help get you back on track, but if you feel that you need more, please contact at Jager at (440) 506-4347 or firstname.lastname@example.org.