Have You Lost Your Spark? You Might Be Suffering From Burnout
When the alarm goes off in the morning, do you jump out of bed because you can’t wait to get to work? Perhaps you are one of those people who turn on snooze when the alarm goes off and go back to sleep until panic sets in because you are about to be late for work.
Hmmm, perhaps you have lost your spark for what you do? You might need a life coach or business coach.
As an entrepreneur, it’s exhausting to stay on top of your game and stay motivated to keep growing your business. Every day you must push through barriers just to get the business off the ground. Keeping it going can also be a struggle if you are constantly faced with unforeseen challenges.
Perhaps you’ve been in business for some years, and you are just plodding along. As a business owner, it’s easy to get yourself into a rut, go through the motions, and do what you have to because the business no longer inspires you. Perhaps you don’t have the same drive you used to have, and one day, this will catch up with you if you don’t reinvigorate your passion.
Before you can rekindle your passion for your business and thrive, it is important to understand your motivation.
Motivation in Business
The word motivation is banded around with many interpretations of what it means. Simplistically, motivation is what drives you. The more driven you are, the more likely you will succeed.
Motivation plays a critical role in making it an entrepreneur, and it also plays a vital role for those who have been in business for a while and struggling to find that spark they once had.
When we have a sense of purpose, we receive a jolt of the hormone dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is linked to pleasure and motivation. It’s what makes us feel alive and zestful. When we lose our sense of purpose, we fall into the trap of pre-programmed behaviors and lose our desire for creativity and achievement, making us feel anxious and unsettled.
Of course, the danger is that unless you get help to stay motivated in your business, this can lead you into the burnout cycle.
The Burnout Cycle
The burnout cycle is when you lose meaning in your work and business, culminating in physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. Psychoanalyst Herbert J. Freudenberg first coined the phrase in the 1970’2 and is a major cause for losing your spark.
Adapted from the original concept, think of burnout in your business as having seven distinct stages.
1. Honeymoon Phase
When you first start in business, you become obsessed with your new passion from the time you wake until you go to bed. This is known as the honeymoon phase, where you experience high commitment, energy, creativity, and passion. You are happy, fulfilled, and go the extra mile, and the adrenaline keeps flowing. Dopamine fuels your enthusiasm, and you feel like you can’t fail.
2. Shock and Denial
Reality sets in when you hit a rough patch and come face to face with unexpected complications. The rose-colored glasses come off, and you become aware that some days are easier than others. Your enthusiasm for the business and optimism begins to wane.
You may have underestimated that being in business is harder than you thought as your sales lag, your customers don’t pay on time, and employees cause problems. Shock and denial set in as you tell yourself, “This can’t be happening; I did my research and knew what I was getting into. Others succeed in business, so why not me?”
This stage brings the onset of stress where perhaps you avoid making decisions, neglect your personal needs, become irritable, where productivity and motivation lower.
3. Anger, Frustration, and Fear
As you grasp this new reality and meet with challenges you underestimated, you enter the next stage of the burnout cycle. You become angry and frustrated. Fear sets in, and you wonder what the future will bring. “Why did I even start this business? What a stupid idea? Why can’t I make it work, others seem to?” These thoughts sabotage your success.
It becomes more frustrating as you deal with how things didn’t go to plan. This makes you feel angry and disillusioned. You resist the temptation of getting some help like a life coach, business coach, or mentor. You believe you can figure it out yourself.
4. Doubt and Depression
By continuing to resist what’s happening to you and your business, self-doubt creeps in. You begin to question; “Will I ever get through this crisis?” “Will I ever make a profit?” “Will I ever find new clients?” Self-doubt kills motivation and cripples you into inaction.
By now, you become exhausted and feel as if your emotional and physical reserves are completely depleted. At this stage of the burnout cycle, overwhelm has completely taken over to the point there is nothing left to give. You lose your purpose and can’t even think about the future.
You wish you could wave a magic wand and live the life and business you dreamed of. You may even fall into depression, wondering why you started the business in the first place. You don’t want to take responsibility for your decisions; instead, you want someone to save you.
This burnout stage can become severe to the point where you definitely need to reach out to someone who can help, like a life coach or business coach. The danger, of course, is when burnout spirals out of control. If you sink too far into depression, you may need to seek the professional help of a therapist.
If you are going through the burnout cycle, the quicker you land at the acceptance phase, the quicker you will move forward.
It’s not until you reach this stage of the burnout cycle you realize, for you and your business to get back on track, you must learn how to overcome your struggles, adapt how you operate your business, and bring in some changes. You realize there is no magic wand that will instantly change the conditions around you. Any change has to come from within, which is why a business or life coach becomes your savior. It’s challenging to navigate your way from acceptance to reinvigorating yourself and your business on your own.
When you accept and acknowledge you will always face challenges in your business, you are ready to move on. How you respond to this realization brings you to a split-second choice that will determine your future as a business owner and entrepreneur.
6. Split Second Choice
As with everything in life, you can react or respond to burnout. You have a choice to either explore your options for the future or give up. If you give up, there is an impact of making this choice. If you choose to give up, will you live a life of regret?
The alternative is to rekindle your passion and make the requisite changes physically, mentally, and emotionally to drive your business forward.
7. Road to Recovery
Once you choose to reinvigorate yourself and your business, you begin the road to recovery, where you once again find that initial passion and drive that motivated you to go into business in the first place.
Rekindling Your Passion Begins With a Vision
The journey through the burnout cycle is quite normal, and many entrepreneurs and business owners experience it at some time during their journey. Some will go through it in a day, others in a week, and still others over months. It has nothing to do with your experience, talent, or self-worth; it’s a cyclable change you must learn to navigate to succeed in business.
The one thing that will rekindle your passion and bring back that spark is to create a powerful, compelling vision for the future.
Victor Frankl is a celebrated Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor. He’s best known for his 1946 memoir Man’s Search For Meaning, a meditation on what the gruesome experience of being imprisoned in Auschwitz taught him about the primary purpose of life; the quest for meaning.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Choosing their attitude is what Frankl believed sustained the horrors of the concentration camps. Having something to live for gave the prisoners the motivation to survive. It was their purpose, their vision of seeing themselves beyond the walls of Auschwitz, that kept them alive.
Frankl often cites Nietzsche, “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost anyhow.”
It’s your why – the vision you have for the future that will keep you motivated through the ups and downs in business. Without a vision, you literally lack the ongoing motivation to do whatever it takes to drive your business forward and make it a success. That’s because your vision appeals to the emotional brain, not the logical brain, and it’s your emotional brain that drives your belief systems.
Burnout destroys faith and trust in yourself and allows the seeds of self-doubt and defeat to take over your impulses, whereas a powerful and compelling vision keeps your dreams alive and your energy levels in check. Your vision becomes the most powerful motivator there is in business. It’s the one thing all successful entrepreneurs have that allows them to build a thriving business.
Preventing Burnout in Business
Working is a big part of your identity but doesn’t need to define who you are. Burnout happens as a result of unresolved stress. No doubt, as a business owner and entrepreneur, you want to work smarter, not harder. Here are four things successful entrepreneurs do to prevent burnout and keep on generating a constant spark and passion that helps them succeed.
They Keep Their Motivation Levels High
Motivation is the key to a successful business and what keeps them on track to achieve all their goals. The habit of staying motivated is the key difference between a successful entrepreneur and a business owner or one that falls into the burnout trap. Research tells us that business owners and entrepreneurs need motivation daily for their businesses to thrive.
Successful entrepreneurs and business owners understand they can’t do everything themselves. They are smart enough to employ people to do what they either don’t want to do or the things they are not good at. They know if they don’t control their day-to-day administrative processes, it becomes a major cause of stress.
By delegating tasks, they can pay others to do; it allows them to work on their business, not in it. This approach gives them plenty of opportunities to make strategic decisions aligned with their vision, values, and goals.
Becoming a workaholic is not sustainable. You physically and mentally need a time out to recharge and reflect; when you do, you make better decisions and have the energy to concentrate on what’s important in your business.
They Prevent Loneliness
It’s hard being at the top of your game and, at times, really lonely. That’s because entrepreneurs and business owners usually don’t have anyone to vent to or run ideas by other than their friends or family. While family and friends have their best interests at heart, they aren’t qualified to coach or mentor anyone in business unless they have been successful in business themselves.
Your staff can’t be your mentors or coach; they are too invested in the business and their own needs to be objective.
They hire a Life Coach or Business Coach to Guide Them
Savvy entrepreneurs and business owners tap into a mentor, business coach, or life coach’s expertise to keep them on track. It gives them a trusted confidant they can rely upon without worrying about how their thoughts will be received.
Because the business environment can affect personal relationships, a business coach also becomes a life coach and act as a buffer between their business and their personal life ensuring they don’t burnout.
Mentors and business coaches provide critical feedback in a safe environment, vital to growing leadership skills. They help entrepreneurs stay motivated and on track should they begin to fall into the burnout trap. They keep their vision burning bright and hold them accountable for the choices they make and their actions.
Ultimately you are accountable for everything that happens in your life and business, which is a heavy burden to bear on your own, which is why top CEOs and highly successful people invite mentors and coaches into their lives. Seeking feedback and having an independent and objective support system is an excellent way to keep you and your business in balance.
Learning to lead, learning to run a business is no easy task. It takes time and education to transform yourself into the leader you want to be. It all starts with learning how to hire and manage people. It is your communication and people skills that separate the wheat from the chaff.
To find out how you stack up as a leader. You never know what others see that you don’t see yourself. This kind of feedback is not always negative, perhaps you have great attributes and talents you weren’t even aware of.
Learn to Thrive Not Just Survive
80% of business owners do little more than just survive. They often make less than in full paid employment. They can’t take sick leave, they usually work longer hours and take less vacations.
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