I sat soaking in my warm bath, candles burning, essential oils flowing, meditation music playing softly, and thought, “Screw this.”
I’m not sure if I can “work on myself” or meditate one more time. Can I just get a hard seltzer and turn on housewives instead?
Sometimes being an entrepreneur or self-employed is the best thing ever. We get to make our own hours. Ski on a random Tuesday. Take that Friday off to go to a friend’s bachelorette party. We report to no one, working when and how we want.
And sometimes it feels like the worst thing ever. We report to no one. There’s no paycheck that magically shows up on the first and the 15th. There’s no one to consistently share our successes and failures with.
Wherever we are when building the business, it becomes all-consuming. How can it not be? The business started with an idea, and now we’re busting our butts every day to make it work. It’s hard to remember anything else since it’s probably what we think about all the time.
Remember, we are not our businesses.
If a client says yes to working together, we feel amazing—like we can conquer the world. If a client says no to working together, we’re quick to wonder what’s wrong with me instead of factoring in that maybe they just got a pay cut and aren’t ready for our services.
Our business and entrepreneurial ideas become obsessions at times. I find myself brushing my teeth at 9:30 p.m. with my significant other asking, “Hey can I run something by you? What do you think is a fair rate to pay my new social media coordinator?”
We’re the people who in the shower think of the next best idea. On a Saturday morning, we wake up remembering someone we should’ve emailed yesterday. We get an idea for our next article and write it out way past our bedtime. We work on ourselves constantly, because when we’re in a good place, the business is in a good place. If we work for ourselves, we have the drive and the passion.
We love our businesses, but sometimes it becomes our everything.
Perhaps the constant internal work becomes too much and eventually leads to entrepreneur fatigue or burnout.
Like any relationship, we need to create healthy boundaries for our businesses. Through trial and error—let’s be real lots of error, I’ve learned how to navigate what I’m calling entrepreneur fatigue. The feeling when we can’t handle one more affirmation to think positive, the feeling where you want to roam the aisles of Target at 11:30 a.m. on a Wednesday instead of working on our website, the feeling when sometimes we want to bang our head against our desks and wonder where our creativity went.
Here are seven ways to conquer our entrepreneur fatigue:
1. Step Away from the Business.
Yes, I know this feels counterproductive or perhaps downright terrifying to step away from your business, your precious baby, for a couple of hours, or gasp, maybe even take a day off. But, think about it. Where have your most creative ideas come from? When do you get those “hits” of inspiration or creativity? Our best business ideas come from within, our intuition, nudging us in the direction to take the company.
I’m not sure about you, but seldom have those “hits” come to me when I’m sitting at my desk. My inspiration comes when I’m skiing, on a hike, listening to music, meditating, or getting a coffee with another small business owner. If you’re feeling burnt out, uninspired, or unsure where to take your business, you might need to step back. Carve out time during your workweek, block off your calendar—because remember, you get to make your own hours! Use that time to indulge in necessary self-care. Get outside, get your nails done, take a spin class, or sleep that extra hour. Trust me, when you have space from your business, productivity will follow.
2. Make Self-Care Meaningful.
Is there such thing as too much self-care or burning out on our self-care? It depends on where the energy is. I found myself in a routine of writing affirmations, visualizing where I wanted my business to be, and writing gratitude lists daily. These are all great things for self-care, however when it’s coming from a place of checking a box of one more thing on our to-do list, are we really feeling grateful? Are we really affirming ourselves if we’re doing it as another tedious task?
Check-in with your self-care routine. There could be too much of a “good thing” going on, which in turn isn’t a good thing! Let yourself breathe and find a couple of self-care practices that fill you up, not one more thing that drains your energy. As one of my entrepreneur friends told me, too much structure keeps you limited. You probably have some type-A tendencies if you work for yourself (I sure do!) so give yourself permission to be flexible and veer outside of your calendar.
3. Find a Community of Other Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners.
Like anything, unless someone has experience running their own business, the highs, and lows of entrepreneur life can be difficult for others to understand. Develop relationships with other small business owners to run your ideas by, share your struggles with, or ask them for advice and encouragement. Join networking groups or invite other entrepreneurs (even if you don’t know them!) out for coffee.
Other small business owners understand the hustle and hard work running a small business takes in the beginning, and I find are generally willing to meet. Be sure to foster these relationships, stay in touch, and don’t see it as one and done.
4. Sit By Moving Water.
Whenever I feel stuck or discouraged with the inevitable lows of running a business, I like to sit by the river in my neighborhood, watch it flow, breathe, and even close my eyes and meditate. A river, lake, or the ocean moves naturally—how it’s mean to. It doesn’t fight or tries to go upstream. The sound of moving water is not only relaxing and meditative but a powerful visual reminder to trust the process. Believe that the Universe is working for you, not against you. Be patient, notice the flow, and breathe.
5. Loosen Up, De-stress, and Have Some Fun!
Have you ever noticed on vacation new clients tend to book a call with you? When our energy is lighthearted and our stress is being managed, like on a vacation, the right people find us. Before we loosen up, our stress needs to be dealt with. Don’t be afraid to call a therapist, notice your feelings, take lots of deep breaths throughout the day, and try to be present in the day-to-day rather than scrolling through your phone.
Sometimes the inner work feels heavy, so try making your self-care fun! Dance, use bright colored pens, take a new route on your daily walk, call a friend, indulge in some bad TV, start a text thread with a few friends, draw a picture, swing on a swing, lay in the grass barefoot, watch a TikTok, or read your horoscope. Self-care doesn’t have to mean sitting on a cushion for two hours a day meditating.
6. Feel Grateful and Celebrate the Wins.
If you are a small business owner you are a goal-oriented person. Your goals, vision, and hard work pay off in time. However, what do so many of us do once we accomplish a goal we set for the business? Create another one and move on. Don’t forget to pause, reflect, and acknowledge your wins. Think where you were when you started your business and notice where you are now.
Try writing down all the successes you have had since launching the business. When we notice our wins we can then fully feel gratitude for ourselves, all the people we get to help, and however you spell God guiding us along the way. Gratitude shifts our energy, perspective, and brings in miracles.
If you’re feeling fatigued or frustrated from running your business, it’s only natural.
Give yourself grace and remember it will ebb and flow.
Most importantly don’t give up on your dream—do something for your business every day and trust the process.