What happens when you don’t see the flame before the burnout
So my husband is occasionally right. Notice I say occasionally. I have admitted that in public before but probably under my breath and mumbling while slurping a tea. It’s not that he doesn’t deserve to be told he’s right but he’s kind of smug to live with after. In spite of his occasional rightness, this time he was bang on. He saw it coming long before I even saw the spark of flame. It was the most spectacular 10 of a burnout you’ve ever seen.
Let’s define burnout first shall we? Because I have to tell you when I found out what it actually is and what it does to you I was shocked. I’ve worked in healthcare for 13 years and was still shocked. So here is what helpguide.org defines it as because the Canadian Mental Health Association came up empty when I checked their site:
Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.
Burnout reduces your productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.
How does burnout impact your life and how do you handle it? Well, it’s different for different people. Some hit their burnout and drink heavily. Not my thing. Some hit their burnout and self medicate. Also not my thing. Some hit their burnout and turn to retail therapy. Really not my thing. Weird I know. My burnout? Well I just keep on heading straight towards the flame like an loony moth until one day I burst in to aforementioned specatcularness (It’s word but please don’t look it up) which is usually a lot of curse words, mixed with some very loud shouting and followed up with apologies right before I burst in to the worst ugly faced cry you’ve ever seen. One of those soaking someone’s shirt with a running nose and tears kind of ugly cries where you are partly incoherent and mostly hoping your knees don’t completely give out.
Why do I describe my ugly faced burnout cry to you? Because I’m an entrepreneur. With two businesses and a networking group. And two teenagers. And two dogs. And the husband I mentioned earlier. And an aging mom. And life. And no where in all the articles that I’ve read about entrepreneurship did I ever once read an article about burnout. Until after the day I flamed like bacon on a BBQ. Ironic? Somewhere someone was having a hoot at that one. So I share my ugly faced burnout cry to let you know that it just might show up on your entrepreneurial journey too. If I can spare one person the holy moly of walking in to that flame with no warning, then sharing the UFBC moment is worth it.
Here are 10 links to 10 articles that I wish I’d known about before my husband had to be on the receiving end of some pretty profane language and a thorough soaking of his Papa Smurf shirt:
8. http://www.inc.com/guides/growth/20792.html – a jackpot article
9. http://www.virgin.com/entrepreneur/richard-branson-how-to-avoid-burnout-as-an-entrepreneur – really basic advice but it’s nice to know billionaires have issues too
10. https://www.ted.com/playlists/245/talks_for_when_you_feel_totall – not an article but if you process better by listening then this might work for you.
So what’s the point of sharing my story and these resources? To assure you that if you are starting on or are currently in your entrepreneurial journey and don’t read at least one of these articles or take in a TED or two, you have a big chance of burning out. Hopefully you have a support system like my forgiving, Papa Smurf shirt wearing hubby who doesn’t have an aversion to ugly faced crying or the runny nose it produces. If you need to find someone who can handle runny noses, take a moment to take stock of who in your network you could rely on to talk about your situation. It is vital not to let the emotions that lead to burn out build up to the point of explosion. The damage has already been done at that point and though the crash can prove cathartic (let’s face it – sometimes crying helps. I don’t care what your chromosomes are) it’s probably better to be proactive about flame prevention.
I still firmly believe that I’m capable of doing more than is probably healthy for me and will probably still struggle with what the articles frequently mention as “life balance” but at least now I know I’m not alone. If you’ve had your spectacular burnout already and care to share – Great! We’ll add your story to our growing resource and send you a “I survived burnout” t-shirt. Just remember to try and have someone on your team who has fire safety training. Or at least an extra clean t-shirt.
Yours in ‘trepping.