No matter what kind of job you have, or even what your life looks like outside of work, our lives are filled with "should's" of all kinds. You should blog if you have a business. You should join and be active in Facebook groups. You should volunteer. You should use this, not that. You should workout five times a week.
Well, I think we need to let go of some of these things.
This is not a blog post with 15 tips to help you on Twitter, or a new secret about Squarespace. Those are great posts, but what I want to talk about today is an important part of the business owner life, but doesn't get talked about often.
Burn-out is a real thing.
You can deny it all you want. You can charge full-steam ahead acting like it's not exhausting. You can keep adding things onto your to-do list like you're the World's Best Competitive Juggler. But, eventually, it will catch up to you.
I know, because it caught up to me.
As a one-woman shop, I find that it's harder to "miss" work. Yeah, we brag about how we can travel whenever we want, and take naps in the middle of the afternoon. But, when you are the receptionist, financial officer, designer, and CEO of your business, there's a lot riding on your shoulders.
This week marks one year since I lost my mom in a car accident. On one hand, I've been very thankful to not be at a "real" job with limited vacation time available to me. On the other hand, there is still SOME limitations on how many days I can miss. I still have to make money, yo. So, I charged through 2015 as best I could.
And then, a few months ago, I (reluctantly) stopped volunteering at the church my husband and I attend. I was experiencing major burn-out on ... life, and hadn't given myself a break. Though I loved volunteering, it was another "should" on my list. A dear friend of mine that I volunteered with told me, You need to focus on living abundantly, not obligatory.
Live abundantly, not obligatory.
So, while this scenario takes place in my personal life, we need to apply it to our businesses, too. (I'm including myself in this, because I'm still working on it.)
Part 1 of avoiding burnout: do what you want, not what you should.
We do our best work when we fully enjoy the work we are doing.
Just because every other copywriter has THIS service package, doesn't mean you have to do it also - especially if you hate it. Offering said package is a) going to make you hate your job, b) not going to help you produce the best content for your clients. If you hate it, or it doesn't serve your business well, don't do it.
We went into business for ourselves for various reasons, but ultimately because we wanted to be happier – am I right? Doing things that take away from that are just going to make us unhappy, which will result in lower-quality work. The great part about being in charge of our own business is that we can do things the way that best works for us. Maybe that's only blogging once a month. Maybe that's one client at a time. Maybe that's only doing group programs. It doesn't matter what it is – make it work for you, and your clients, where everyone is happy.
Part 2 of avoiding burnout: actually taking breaks.
I'm awful at doing this, I'll admit it. I'll sit at my desk for 3-4 hours without moving. I'll somehow end up working 12 hour days. I'll forget to eat lunch until 2 p.m.
When I used to hate working my 8-5 job, I would make sure I got every minute of my allotted one-hour lunch break. I would take bathroom breaks or a short walk to the break room every hour. I clocked out at exactly 5 p.m. And now, because I love what I do, I do the complete opposite of those things. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that I now love my job (obviously), but there needs to be more balance.
It's easy for me to stop working when my husband comes home, but if he works late, then I just continue to sit at my desk and work. I would much rather get ahead on some blogging, rather than sit and watch Netflix alone. But again, finding that time to step away is important to avoid burnout. (And also... be a normal human, instead of a workaholic.) Here are three things I'm going to try and do consistently in 2016:
- Go swimming over lunch once a week
- Use my Timer+ app again to stand up every hour
- Have a pitcher of water at my desk to help keep me accountable for drinking water (which will also help me get up from my desk more often)
What do you need to change to avoid burn-out?
This next year, focus on living abundantly, not obligatory. In life, and in business. Be intentional about what you do. As I told my VIP list earlier this year, you can always make more money, you can't replace family.