How to avoid burnout as a business owner
I’m not a marathon runner (although I did run a half marathon on my 21st birthday with almost no training) but the phrase “hitting the wall” has always stuck with me.
For those of you who wouldn’t consider yourself to be athletes either, “hitting the wall” is a term used in endurance sports.
Hitting the wall: a sudden fatigue and loss of energy which is caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles.
You’ve been running for miles and miles, and suddenly you have to stop because you have nothing left in the tank.
Well, a week ago I “hit the wall” in my business, creatively speaking. My creativity, enthusiasm, passion, excitement, connection, drive, motivation, and energy all dried up. I had nothing left to give.
I’m used to feeling tired. I’m used to feeling anxious. I’m not used to feeling indifferent. It was scary to me to suddenly not care. To be so detached from my work, my passion, my purpose. I did not like it at all.
I wasn’t sure exactly what to do to restore my energy again but I figured hitting the emergency brakes and stepping away for a week couldn’t hurt. So I unplugged from social media, emptied my schedule, and promptly got taken down by a pretty nasty cold (of course!)
While I was recovering, I realised that I truly learned nothing from my half marathon experience in 2017. I failed to prepare then and I had failed to prepare now. I hadn’t given myself enough fuel to keep going. I was bent over, legs shaking, struggling to catch a breath – just emotionally and mentally this time.
The way I see it, building a business isn’t that different from running a marathon.
A lot of people talk about doing it someday, few actually attempt it.
Many start but don’t make it to the finish line.
At the beginning you energy feels limitless but somewhere around the middle you find it’s not. Your goal feels almost impossible. You’ve come too far to turn back and you still are nowhere near the end.
I could go on and on. The similarities are unending. So I did a little researching into “hitting the wall” and how athletes go about preventing the unfortunate circumstance of it happening to them.
Here’s what I found and how I’m applying it to my business journey as well.
how to avoid burnout (or hitting the wall):
Fueling before you start (aka carbohydrate loading)
I’m not talking about big plates piled high with pasta. Instead I’m suggesting filling up on things that inspire us. What sparks your creativity? Maybe like me, it’s books, podcasts, and conversations.
It’s asking for help instead of muddling through and trying to do it all on your own.
It’s building a network of friends, family and other business owners to support and sustain you as you attempt something nobody else has ever done before.
Replenishing what’s lost
Like those gel sachets that give runners a quick sugar hit, we need to replenish our energy along the way.
I think that looks like making time for self care, regular breaks, and time off. We need proper, intentional rest. Not the kind where you’re scrolling on TikTok or checking in on emails every now and then. The kind of rest where you’ve got nothing to do and nowhere to be.
Lowering your intensity
To keep a steady pace, you gotta start slow. That means being realistic about what you can actually accomplish in a day, choosing what’s most important and focusing on that. It’s setting achievable goals for yourself right now in this season. It’s setting the boundaries you need to protect your energy because you know you’ve got a long way to go.
The beauty of life is that we can start afresh any time we want. I don’t know about you but I’m great at saving my intention setting for January. But we also don’t have to wait until then. Now is as good a time as any to check in with yourself.
How are you doing today? Really?
How can you take some of the wisdom from endurance athletes to help you maintain your pace and cross that finish line? If you can relate to this blog post at all, I would love to hear from you! Drop a comment below.
Love this and couldn’t agree more, Megan 😊 I’m here to chat when you need. Might be due a catch up! Similarly, I did Outward Bound (which includes a half marathon) without really training at 18 😂 It proved to me I can persevere through challenges, but prep definitely wouldn’t hurt. I’m going through another big learning season in business right now.
Definitely keen on another catch up! Oh gosh, yes preparation is everything. I can’t wait to hear more about what you are working on!
This is soooo true. I have a few drafts of blog posts about opening a business that I have never dated to share. But maybe I should.
This also relates a lot to parenthood.
I had to make space for time and mental space. It’s a work in progress and I thi k it may always be.
Self-care for me now looksike acupuncture, craniosacral therapy, breathworks, bath and wine 😜, romance books and crappy TV shows and I love it.
Every 13 weeks, I take a week off.
I am also considering not having appointments during my periods and just catch up on admin, from my couch in my pj’s… To make this whole journey sustainable. We’ll see if I get there. I am trying it this month.
Thank you got sharing this 😘
Ooh! I would love to read those blog posts. Totally, it is always a work in progress. I love all of the different ways you take care of yourself and the idea of taking time off every 13 weeks! I need to be more intentional about the breaks I take throughout the year. Thanks for sharing!
I feel like it’s also so easy to keep going and avoid taking a break until we absolutely have to take one sometimes. I hit the wall and have to stop instead of replenishing and refuelling along the way! Which isn’t great because leading up to hitting the wall everything starts to slide.
Love this post Megan 🙂
That’s exactly what I do Steph! Definitely working on being intentional about planning and taking breaks regularly from now on.
“It’s asking for help instead of muddling through and trying to do it all on your own.”
This resonated with me so intensely. I realized that asking for help can include saying “Hey, I’ve been considering xyz. What do you think?”. Making decisions is a big part of running a business and it can lead to feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. I have definitely hit a wall many times. Really appreciate you sharing this and knowing I’m not alone. 🙂
Omg yes! It can be so tiring having to make so many decisions on your own. It makes me miss having co-workers to bounce ideas off. I’m so thankful for business coaching and support groups to help with this. It’s really vulnerable to admit you need help but it can be so life-giving.