If you work as an entrepreneur long enough, you’ll eventually get burned out. Over the last ten plus years of being one, I’ve gotten burned out once. It was when I was 21 years old and lost a million dollars of borrowed money.
I was working a lot of hours; I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing, and I was losing a bit too much cash. Many people felt sorry for me as I was a burnt-out 21-year-old who was a million bucks in debt, but I feel lucky that I got to experience that.
Why? Because it taught me what I needed in my personal life and in business to avoid burnout while working 24/7. For the last seven years, I’ve been able to work 70 hours a week without a vacation… yet I don’t get burned out.
So, what’s my secret? Here’s how to avoid burnout while working 70 hours a week:
Have a cheering section
People will be skeptical about your abilities as an entrepreneur and about your business. People will discourage you and tell you how you are screwing up… especially when you are starting out.
By no means am I saying that you should ignore these people because every once in a while they will actually have good feedback for you. But at the same time, you need to create your own cheering section. Whether it’s your siblings, parents, friends or significant other, you need people who are going to encourage you.
What I’ve found over the years is that if you have a cheering section, it will push you to work harder and it will encourage you to keep pushing forward… especially during the tough times.
Love what you are doing
I learned this one the hard way… if you hate what you are doing, eventually you are going to get burned out. I lost a million bucks in a bad venture because I was involved in a company that I didn’t love, which means I didn’t put 110% into it.
When you feel like you are working a lot, sooner or later you’ll become exhausted and then eventually burned out. When you are working on something that you love and are passionate about, it won’t feel like work. When you enjoy something, you won’t mind putting in the time and effort that is required to make it succeed.
Make sure you aren’t just doing something for the money. Life is too short to be spending your time on the things you hate, so focus your time and energy on the things that you love.
Create a great culture
If you are constantly working alongside individuals who aren’t passionate about the company and who don’t care about their jobs, it will create a work environment that isn’t fun.
I enjoy going into our office because of the people… I couldn’t care less about our fun perks or the cool design of the office. I love working alongside my team members because they are fun and smart and they teach me a lot of new things. Plus, we have a lot in common, and we don’t mind challenging each other, which makes us all improve ourselves.
Perks like a fancy looking office and free soda don’t compare to being around great people. Make sure your company has an awesome culture like Zappos because it will make working that much more fun.
And if you are wondering how Zappos has built an all-star roster of employees, they actually offer everyone money to quit before the candidates even start the job. This helps them weed out all of the bad apples.
Break up your goals
As an entrepreneur, you need to feel like you are accomplishing something. If your business isn’t growing or even hitting your goals, you’ll eventually get frustrated. When you feel like you are constantly failing and doing everything wrong, it can easily lead to burnout.
What I’ve found is that by breaking up your goals into much smaller ones, you are more likely to accomplish them. And as you accomplish more of them, your business will grow, and you’ll have a sense of accomplishment.
Focus on creating goals that can be accomplished within a week’s timeframe. Make sure they aren’t too easy, and don’t worry if you don’t hit all of your goals. If you are hitting every single one, it means that you aren’t setting big enough goals.
Workout every morning
Did you know that working out gives you energy? Going to the gym every morning before work will not only give you more energy, but it will also help fight fatigue.
My friends usually make fun of my workout plan, but it really works when it comes to preventing burnout. Every morning I go to the gym, do around 15 to 20 pull-ups, and then peddle on a bike for 20 minutes while watching TV. I then lift weights for 5 or 10 minutes.
I end my workout session by hitting the spa. Just like how I spent 30 minutes in the gym, I spend 30 minutes in the steam room each morning before I start my workday. I’ve found that the steam room is a place I can go to relax and not think about work.
When you are first starting out, you don’t need to do this as much, but when you are in business for 5 or 10 years, you need to start treating yourself. It doesn’t have to be from a financial standpoint either…
It could be as simple as going to the movie theater to escape reality for a few hours. Or it can be getting yourself a weekly massage, which should help you relax.
I reward myself each week with an hour hand massage, which focuses on my fingers, wrists, and arms… this weekly treatment eliminates my carpal tunnel pain.
Whatever your escape may be, treat yourself every once in a while because it will make your life that much better. Again, the treat doesn’t have to be financially related, it could just be something simple that makes you happy.
The biggest way I prevent burnout is by raging out once a month. My friends and I typically fly into Vegas on a Friday night, party really hard, and then get back to work on Saturday.
The key with raging out is that you have to go all out and not do it too often. I’ve found that once a month is the sweet spot as it makes you look forward to the event. If you rage on a weekly basis, you’ll quickly get tired of partying, and it could also have a negative effect on your work.
Your version of raging doesn’t have to be partying in Vegas… it can be anything you want. Just go crazy once a month, and you’ll find yourself to be a much more productive worker.
I’ve found that even if I don’t do the above things on a monthly basis, I don’t really get burned out. The number one reason for that is I love what I am doing and I don’t see it as work.
Even when I hang out with my friends, I still talk about my work because I am addicted to it. And they talk to me about their business as well. We all work 24/7, and we enjoy it.
The tactics above may not work for you. You just have to figure out your formula to prevent burnout. Just think of it as a big A/B test on your life.