#235: Taking a Break Instead of Burning Out - I'm BackFeb 07, 2024
How I Took 3 Months Off My Business to Avoid Total Burnout
Have you ever felt like you're sprinting through life and business, unable to catch your breath or slow down? As entrepreneurs, we often push ourselves to unhealthy extremes trying to scale our companies quickly. But what if there was a better way? What if we could build sustainable businesses that allow us to show up as our best selves each day, without requiring this constant hustle?
I recently faced this struggle firsthand and knew I needed to make a change before I burned out completely. At the end of last year, after a series of challenges personally and professionally, I realized I was no longer operating in a way that was healthy or sustainable. I started making mistakes that led me to lose trust in my own judgment. I felt mounting time pressure with endless tasks that seemed impossible to tackle. I knew if I kept up this pace any longer, I wouldn’t have a business left to run.
Why I Took a Three Month Break
I decided to take a full three months off from my business at the end of 2023. This was a scary decision, but a necessary one. Leading up to this point, I had been sprinting at an extreme pace for years—ever since I first started my entrepreneurial journey back in my early 20s. I’m now 40, with two kids getting ready to leave the nest soon. Hitting this milestone birthday while also facing the fact that my children are almost grown made me realise just how fast life is passing by.
On top of these personal revelations, I started to experience some warning signs that my hustle-hard mentality was no longer serving me or my business. I felt constant time pressure, unable to fit everything in. I was exhausted, with no energy left to bring my best self either at work or at home. When a long-awaited vacation unexpectedly got canceled last minute, I broke down crying—a clear indicator that I had reached my breaking point.
I knew something needed to change, so I decided to take the next three months completely off. No podcast, no social media, no work obligations whatsoever. It was time for me take a step back, slow down, and determine how to create a sustainable business that wouldn’t require me to sprint just to survive.
My Offline Journey
While offline, I focused first on self-care and self-reflection. I reassessed my priorities and created an ideal schedule mapping out exactly how much time I wanted to dedicate to both work and personal activities. When I put this ideal schedule into practice, I quickly realised there simply weren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything on my wish list. Something had to give.
I eliminated tasks that didn’t align with my bigger-picture goals and found ways to automate or delegate other responsibilities. I cleared the decks of anything unnecessary so I could focus exclusively on what mattered most.
During this offline period, I also traveled alone for the first time in my career. I disappeared solo to Fiji for five glorious days of reading, swimming, reflecting, and recharging. With no distractions or work obligations allowed, this was an incredibly clarifying and restorative experience. It gave me the space I needed to make some important decisions about what I wanted the next chapter of my life and business to look like.
Tips for Avoiding Burnout
After living through this experience of reaching a breaking point myself, I have a few tips for other entrepreneurs looking to build sustainable businesses that don’t require unsustainable sprinting:
* Know the warning signs. Pay attention to symptoms like lack of energy, decision fatigue, loss of self-trust, constant time pressure, or emotional breakdowns over small setbacks. These are clear indicators that something needs to change.
* Take control of your schedule. Map out your ideal schedule and assess whether it’s realistic. Eliminate, automate or delegate tasks as needed so you have plenty of time for self-care and other personal priorities.
* Prioritise self-care. Block off regular time for activities like vacation, exercise, nourishing meals, and other soul-enriching habits. Protect this time with the same focus you give your business obligations.
The bottom line? We all deserve to build businesses that empower and energise us—not ones that burn us out. By taking a step back when needed, learning to slow down, and putting self-care first, we can create professional endeavors that are rewarding, sustainable and built to last.
What's one small way you give yourself a break amidst the hustle of entrepreneurship? I'd love to hear your best tips for avoiding burnout!
To hear Tina talk about this on the podcast, click HERE.
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