So everybody except you thinks that you are moving at a ridiculous pace putting in 80-hours a week, still secretary to the Chama and an involved parent. Watch Out!.., burnout lies ahead.
Burnout is a feeling of being mentally, emotionally and physically drained. The feeling you have when you are perfectly healthy and cannot get out of bed in the morning. This occurs when a tremendous amount of stress piles up over time. In a conquest to conquer yet another challenge, creative entrepreneurs have burned themselves out. Some more than once.
You might wonder, “Where is all this pressure coming from? Creatives are not supposed to be under pressure anyway”.
The kind pressure that results in burnout is both internal and external.
Internal pressure is mostly a result of one’s own drive, goals and ambition. To become the best, most recognised or successful in your field requires a lot of work. Achieving that in a short span, means that you pile an incredible amount of hours into your work with little time for other things. This will most likely end up in burnout.
External pressure is a constant factor that most fail to manage well. The clients expectations, the expectations of others, family obligations all form part of external pressures that result in burnout. Quick initial growth may result in a surge of orders that need you to work 16 hours everyday just to cope. The end result is usually burn out.
Can you identify burnout? If you are working at a crazy pace and suspect it is more than what the average person in your field is doing. Watch out for any of these.
- Fatigue /Lack of energy – Do you feel tired in the morning after a solid 8 hrs of sleep? Instead of feeling energized, you can barely get out of bed.
- Poor Health – Minor ailments like colds, acid reflux , acne have become part of your life. Furthermore, you seem to have developed dementia in your 20’s or 30’s and everyone can tell you are not eating well.
- Anxiety – The pressures you are facing cause an increased production of the stress hormone cortisol. This will cause a lot of negative emotions such as helplessness, panic, fear.
- Low Productivity – You can tell that your productivity has fallen. You no longer chase after clients as much as you did and you can’t seem to do things that were routine anymore. You also cannot tell where that time has been spent.
- Loss of Motivation – What made you tick? Does it make you buzz with excitement as it did then? Have you completely lost the drive and most crucially the vision?
Burnout can be managed if you are able to spot the symptoms and work on it before it kills your creativity. Some of the ways you can manage or forestall burnout include.
- Reduce Workload – The number one reason for burnout is excessive workload. You might not realise, however if work is controlling every aspect of your life, then cutback.
- Balance your life – If you live your life by the rule of the thirds. 8 hours work, 8 hours resting and 8 hours recreation and you might never encounter burnout because you recharge everyday.
- Delegate – Some tasks are more taxing than others. As a creative entrepreneur, delegate these to others who are in a better position. Hire a manager or an accountant or a personal assistant and ease the burden.
- Disconnect – Make a habit of disconnecting from work when you are not there. It might not be possible for some jobs but most creative entrepreneurs can. If you have delegated, then it should be easy to just go home and not check emails or answer calls.
- Sabbatical – This is the most radical step and I suspect the biggest reasons why people quit jobs, sell their valuables to backpack around the world. Take a long break from work and do other things, you might rediscover your mojo.
Watch it, burn out has killed some creative careers out there.