We are all super human! We leverage technology, people, resources and time to design, create and amass wealth. We conquer our goals and live our dreams. But do we really? If we are truly super human why are we burning out? Over the last decade, burnout among employees and yes, entrepreneurs too, have been on the rise. In the Forbes article ‘How Can We Stop Entrepreneurs From Burning Out?’, Maiko Schaffrath highlights that 72% of entrepreneurs report mental health concerns and founders are 30% more likely to experience depression than another member of the public. Are you still aiming to be super human? It is becoming increasingly more important for entrepreneurs to create a lifestyle that allows them to create impact in all areas of their lives…without burnout.
Alison pre-dates over-working to early 2008. She was at the tipping point of her career at the height of the recession. She was working as a retail manager and her team was cut by 30%. At that time, she felt so blessed to have a job, that she started making up for her absent team. She did her job, plus that of a visual merchandiser, human resources, inventory control and cashier. She was committed to having her store continue to perform out of fear of losing her job. Before she knew it, 55-hour work weeks became the norm. As her career grew the more she worked, choosing her career over her personal life, going to the gym and even close relationships.
Now fast forward to 2019, she was so used to working 55+ hours a week, one day at her desk she recounts feeling a little “off”. She felt really dizzy, but kept pushing, when all the signs said stop. The truth was she didn’t know how to stop even if she wanted to. Shortly after, she woke up on the floor, with only the memory of getting a glass of water. She was rushed to the emergency room, with dangerously low hemoglobin levels. Her female physician shared with her that her experience was not uncommon. In fact it was a common trait that she recognized among women. That life changing experience led Alison to truly understand that sacrificing her health was just not worth it. Since then she started making conscious lifestyle changes to put herself first. She now has a hard stop at the end of the day, doesn’t work weekends unless it is necessary (only a few things fall in that category), and don’t check email after 6pm. The new Alison now says, “I make time for me; I still love my job and it is very important to me, but not as much as my health.”
As an entrepreneur myself, I am no stranger to burnout. I am a wife, mother and business owner. Those are three full time jobs that despite the best attempt at balance, it all fell apart. I was working 16+ hour days with very little sleep, a racing mind and very little time for family, friends and non-business related activities. Selfcare? What was that? For several months I had gone without even a quiet hot chocolate moment. Some days I felt like I was crushing it. Other days, it was crushing me. Then it did! I was burnt out. One Friday afternoon my body put up an unstoppable and undeniable sign of protest and I was wiped out for three days. I thought I was superwoman, with all my workflows and technological efficiencies. I had a system for everything…except preventing burnout.
Why do so many entrepreneurs, especially female entrepreneurs burn out? I believe it is a combination of not being in tune with our bodies and our inability to create a lifestyle with an effective work-life blend. When you are able to listen to your body and understand when it reaches thresholds, you can start creating a lifestyle that incorporates your body’s needs as well as those of your business.
Here are 3 of my most recommended tips to entrepreneurs to create a burnout-free lifestyle:
- Create Blend vs Balance
All your life you have probably heard about work-life balance. The truth is you cannot truly separate the two to create separate entities to achieve balance. They are all blended together. As such, creating a blend is much more realistic, achievable and effective. Instead of trying to work 8 hours on your business and spend 8 hours with your family, look for opportunities to create a blend that helps you achieve all your goals. For example, if you are completing client follow ups, you may opt to do that while your child is taking a nap so you can be available for story or movie time when they wake up. Or perhaps you will create a work calendar and schedule that you share with you partner with a mix of morning and evening availability to meet your client’s needs, but also make time for a couples breakfast once each week.
Creating a blended lifestyle starts with identifying what matters most and creating ways to infuse them into your schedule in a practical and effective way. What step can you take today to start creating your work-life blend?
- Signs to Delegate vs Danger
As an entrepreneur it can be hard to delegate. And that may be true for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you are not able to make the time to train someone, lack of resources or perhaps no one will quite do it the way you need it done. While no one will care for your business the way you do, as your business grows and demands increase, without delegation, you get closer and closer to the danger zone. Delegation does not mean abandonment. Delegation can start with small steps or tasks. For example, you could consider delegating your social media posts and automations, delegating the building of workflows and software processes that you are not an expert in or opting to partner with aligned affiliates to increase lead generation versus marathon networking.
When you are able to delegate you are truly shifting from a business manager to a business owner. You are allowing yourself to take a step back, breathe, focus on the big picture and hold your delegates accountable. What tasks can you delegate today to avoid approaching the danger-zone of burnout?
- Focus on Health vs Wealth
Don’t be like the famous artistes whose music and memorabilia became million dollar items after they die. While your heirs may benefit, nothing will replace your presence. Buddha’s great words reminds us “To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” As entrepreneurs creating a lifestyle that allows us to focus, be present and include self-care is critical to business continuity and to service our clients. We are reminded by Reba McEntire that “All the money in the world can’t buy you back good health.” Unlike our wealth that we can potentially recover, our health once gone will never return to where it was. In fact, the healthier we are the more vibrant, productive, efficient and yes, wealthier we can become.
To create wealth, you need your health. What changes can you make today to increase your focus on your health?
The entrepreneur lifestyle is often glorified with pictures of people on a beach, working from luxurious offices and enjoying a vibrant and blissful social life. No glimmer or hint of burnout anywhere. The truth of entrepreneurship doesn’t have to be far from that, depending on the ideal lifestyle you envision and create for yourself. You can start by designing a lifestyle that creates blend versus balance, prioritizes delegation before reaching your danger zone and focuses on maintaining your health to create wealth.
Aldeen Simmonds-Thorpe featuring Alison Hemmings
Chief HR Transformation Officer and Coach at Aldeen Simmonds-Thorpe Consulting
Aldeen Simmonds-Thorpe is a HR Transformation Strategist, Speaker and Coach helping professionals and businesses to navigate and solve complex business and people problems enabling them to adapt, compete and thrive. She is a trusted Advisor and Coach to entrepreneurs and business owners helping them build sustainable businesses through community.
Alison Hemmings – Hemmings Consulting
Alison Hemmings is a heart-centered Career Coach, former Headhunter and founder of the ‘Happy Work Project’ helping professionals find and land their ideal jobs while creating a work-life blend that creates true happiness.
LinkedIn (Alison Hemmings): https://www.linkedin.com/in/alisonhemmings/