This post about feeling burnt out and experiencing entrepreneur burnout
was written byguest author, Ana Kinkela, Women’s Leadership Coach
Let’s talk about entrepreneur burnout…
As an entrepreneur, I know your to-do list is endless.
As in, just when you think you’ve crossed everything off the to-do list, there’s another list, if not on paper, then in your head, that’s calling out, requesting you conquer it.
And I know, you pride yourself on getting it all done, on hustling, growing that business, and feeling like you achieved all your goals, created impact and made the money.
All of that is part of the entrepreneur life – you gotta do the actions in order to get results, right?
What I see happening for so many entrepreneurs is that they are tired all the time, oftentimes dread getting up in the morning to go work on their business. And they’re experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety, isolation, and a general lack of happiness with life.
In other words… major entrepreneur burnout.
Some of you are making good money by hustling hard, and others are barely getting by, despite your strong hustle game.
You might be asking yourself:
“What am I doing? Is this really how I want to spend my life? Working? Feeling fried from my day, with zero energy for anything else? Do I even want this business? Can I even sustain this? Am I even made for this entrepreneur life?”
Chances are, you did not start your business in order to have less time and less happiness in your life. And certainly not so you could be feeling burnt out.
More than likely you started your business because you wanted to create an impact… You wanted more freedom and more money.
However, somewhere along the way, it became all about the action and the “doing” (so you could build that business), and all the goals for freedom and happiness became something that you could get when you __________ (insert whatever measure/external goal you use to determine your success).
The thing is, you won’t find the happiness and freedom when you reach whatever goal you’re working towards…. Because there’s always another goal. Another thing to do and achieve.
The hustle won’t stop no matter what you achieve and how much you make until you make the decision to REWIRE how you are BEING, so you can create more space for joy, connection and flow in your life and business (because it’s not just possible, but also VERY necessary).
What if I told you that you could have happiness and freedom NOW, while you grow your business?
What if I told you that being in constant hustle mode is actually preventing you from expanding your impact AND your income (no matter where you are financially right now)?
What if I told you that whatever doubts you’re having about yourself and your business can shift fairly quickly when you turn your attention from your business, and more deeply into yourself?
Here are five ways to reconnect with your business (and yourself) so you avoid entrepreneur burnout and so you don’t leave your business behind in the dust:
(Slow down)…. to go fast
Every burnt out entrepreneur I’ve worked has also been in a space of confusion and feeling lost.
It’s either come from the space of “is this what I’m really supposed to be doing, in the way that I’m doing it?”and/or “I feel like I’m throwing spaghetti at the wall and nothing is really sticking or working like I want it to.”
Burnout is the cause of constant doing, without the practice of honoring what’s within you.
If you don’t nurture and honor what’s within you, you can’t see the way forward until you create space to listen.
Like, truly listen.
You got into entrepreneurship because you had an idea.
You had a creation to bring into the world.
And that creation came from the uniqueness of who you are.
If in the process of bringing this vision into the world, you completely turn away from that voice inside of you, and you essentially ignore it in favor of checking things off your to-do list, you lose connection with the very thing inside of you that brought this vision to life.
And that thing inside of you is the pulse of your business.
It’s what provides clarity and direction on where you are going and most importantly, WHY.
When you’re in the hustle (that leads to feeling burnt out), you’re all in your head and disconnected from the heart.
Which is why you need to slow down. Put the to-do list down (no matter how long it is), and allow yourself to drop into the heart to hear what it NEEDS right this moment.
And then listen and do THAT thing.
When you nurture yourself, you nurture your vision. A plant can’t grow without water and sunlight, and neither can your vision or your business.
Once you slow down your pace, and give yourself some relaxation time, connection, and play, what once felt like an impenetrable wall, becomes an opening.
It allows you to step outside of the box, think differently, and most importantly, SHOW UP differently.
If you are running on empty and experiencing entrepreneur burnout, that is showing itself in your business, no doubt.
Your clients feel it, and your potential clients feel it.
If you don’t stop to pour into yourself, what’s left of you to pour into your clients and work?
It’s all connected. Once you show up for yourself, you’ll show up for your business in a completely different way, and that will result in more clarity, more sales, more success for your clients and more alignment in everything that you are creating!
When you slow down and give yourself time and space, the quality of everything you do goes up and allows your business to flourish from a more grounded, stable, impactful and expansive place.
Prioritize your pleasure and play and interweave your to-do’s within that.
Cross things off your to-do list that either don’t yield high impact results, or hire out for tasks that aren’t in your wheelhouse (cause those tend to take twice as long as others).
Draw boundaries with how long you work and do smaller but more focused spurts of doing, with play and pleasure in between. Make it fun and easeful, instead of stressful and hard.
You get to set the mood of your day and the flow of it. Because it’s your business and your schedule. You don’t have to live by anyone else’s rules or expectations (at least when it comes to your business), except for the ones that feel in alignment with your heart.
When you shift into a space of power as it relates to your time and how you do things, recognizing how the “should’s” are impacting the way you are operating your business, everything starts to transform and shift.
Questions to ask and journal about:
- If I trusted that everything was going to work out in my business, what would I want my work schedule to look like? How many hours a day would I work? And when?
- If I approached my day from the perspective of play and pleasure, what kinds of things would I want to include in my day? And when?
- What are the tasks in my business that take more of my energy (or that feel draining)? Are these tasks necessary and yielding the results I want? If they are, is there a way that I can delegate these tasks to someone else? And if you can’t delegate the task, how can I make this task FEEL different? How is this task helping me? And is there something from the past that’s influencing how I feel about this task (ex: balancing your money books- does it feel draining because of money stories you have? If so, how can you go about clearing those out, so the task doesn’t feel as heavy as it does?)
- What are the rules and “should’s” that I’m operating from in my business? List them out. Where did I learn those? Do those rules align with me? Or do I need to create different ones? And how can I create different rules that combine my skills with what gives me pleasure and joy? (ex: I have to write blog posts every week. If that’s a rule you hold, where did you inherit this rule from? Does this rule align for you— do you enjoy writing blog posts? If no, what do you enjoy doing, that could help communicate your message differently to your audience?)
(Tune into)… your body and listen
This relates to the process of slowing down because let’s face it, it’s so easy to say:
“Hey you, slow down already!”
… And it’s another thing to actually DO it because 99% of the way you behave is UNCONSCIOUS.
So we need to address the body and the unconscious parts, in order for you to create real, sustained change.
A part of the slowing down process is the practical and rational part I addressed above: what can you cut out, and how can you prioritize yourself more…
… but another part of this is teaching your body HOW to slow down with YOU.
You see, after months, years and most likely decades of hustling, your nervous system is used to going and going and going.
And when you try to slow down, your body starts to freak out because it’s asking itself:
“Wait, aren’t I supposed to be doing something?? What am I missing? What’s wrong?”
Enter in anxiety, feeling nervous, experiencing more rapid breathing, maybe some sweating, and your breath shifting into your chest.
Your nervous system has been trained for a long time in a certain direction and pattern, and it now thinks this is “normal”. (But umm, no – entrepreneur burnout is NOT normal!)
So when you try to transition your system into a different way of being, it needs to catch up and learn something different.
Because your body and your mind are so interconnected, when your body reacts in panic and anxiety, so does your mind. That’s why when you’ve tried to slow down in the past to relax or take a vacation, the body starts to panic. And that’s when those thoughts start to creep it, wondering if everything will be okay if you don’t do this one thing in your business, if it’ll be okay if you don’t look at your phone today, and so on.
Part of the way you calm the mind’s response is to calm the body’s response.
(I’ll talk about the mind part in another section of this article).
The first thing you need to do in order to calm the body’s response is to practice relaxing the body on a regular basis.
So even though you might be feeling anxiety, and it’s not feeling good (because anxiety never feels good), it’s time to remind yourself that this is happening because your body has been WIRED in a certain direction, and that you’re not feeling this discomfort because something is actually objectively wrong right now.
Teaching the body to relax has as much to do with practicing relaxation techniques, as it does with developing a trusting relationship with the body once again.
Think about it: most people who have been hustling for a while, haven’t really spent a lot of time focusing on what their bodies really needed. It’s probably been more about grabbing the quickest and closest thing you could find to food, exercising your body from a “should” mentality and not because this is how you actually enjoy to move your body, neglecting pains because there was “no time”, and so on.
Not everyone fits this, however, take some time and reflect on the question of how have you been tending to your body? And then adjust accordingly.
Below is a list of things you can do to help the body rewire into a space where it can relax more easily, and feel more nurtured over time:
- Practice restorative or yin yoga: that’s right. No vinyasa or intense hot yoga classes all the time. Just slow, gentle movements that provide plenty of time for rest. Here’s one you can do today.
- Meditation: Commit yourself to regularly meditating every day. If it’s difficult for you to sit and focus for longer periods of time, start small and build your way up. Start with 3-5 minutes, and then gradually increase. There are plenty of apps that you can download to support you on this, including HeadSpace and Breethe.
- Listen to what the body needs and develop a more trusting and nurturing relationship with it: beneath the surface of the anxiety that your body is reacting to, there are things it’s needing. Ways that it wants to be nurtured and seen.
Think of your body as a person that you are in a relationship with.
What does your body really need? What does it want to eat and how often? (separate from rules and expectations of any diets you are on unless they are required by a medical doctor)
Are there pains in your body that you’ve ignored that need to be addressed?
How does it want to move (without the voice of expectation as it relates to weight and body size)? Does it crave dancing, biking, or just more rest and sleep? Does it want a bath or a massage?
Whatever you are hearing, do the work of taking care of these things, and providing them to the body. The more you nurture your relationship with your body, the more you begin to actually deeply trust yourself. And inner trust is truly one of the most important foundations to running a business that’s not only successful, but also feels in alignment to you because you stop listening to the should’s, and you start listening to yourself.
(Access)… the inner critic
Let’s talk about the role of your mind in this process, and why it’s important to shift the relationship that you have with the part of you that drives your life and business bus at 200mph.
We live in a culture that prioritizes and rewards being busy and outwardly successful, over feeling joyful and present in everyday life. Whether or not you consciously agree with this kind of culture, if you live in it, you can’t avoid being pulled into it. It’s no surprise so many of us experience entrepreneur burnout!
Social programming has a way of wiggling itself into your unconsciousness, and often times most people don’t even know this programming is playing out!
People wear their busy schedule like a badge of honor (so many articles have been written about this!), and by living in this kind of culture, unconsciously most of us have developed the belief that the busier we are, the more successful we are (or seem), and the more successful we are, the more worthy we are.
There’s a voice that often becomes associated with this endless striving to BE better, to DO better and to achieve more.
It’s the voice of the inner critic. That part of you that inserts itself into every task you do in your business, wondering whether you’ve done it well enough, and fast enough.
It’s the part of you that’s always pushing you to do just a little bit more, perhaps even screaming in your ear, telling you you’ll never be successful, and that you’ll be a failure if you don’t achieve or do whatever it thinks is important for you to do.
If you don’t believe, allow yourself to practice observing your thoughts for a day and simply take brief notes on it.
What s the voice in my head saying to me now? Is there a theme that I’m noticing? What’s the overarching message it’s sending?
I’ve never met an entrepreneur without this voice, and it’s one of those parts of you that drives your ambition and helps you to improve and strive even higher than you might have thought possible in any given moment in your life.
However, when taken to an extreme, it also becomes a toxic voice, not because it’s bad in and of itself, but because that part of you is scared of what might happen if you do actually slow down.
It’s afraid of what might happen if it’s not there screaming in your ear.
It’s wondering: will you ACTUALLY fail then? Will you drop the ball? Will it all fall apart?
As humans, it’s pretty natural for us to automatically attach to our thoughts, with the assumption that what our thoughts are telling us is absolute truth.
If you’ve done any mindset work, you know that one of the first steps to shifting mindset is actually practicing acknowledging that our thoughts are only thoughts and though they feel true at the moment, creating space between yourself and the thoughts you are having is the first step in accessing the voice of your True Self— the part of you that knows you are enough, that you are worthy and capable of everything you aspire to do in this world (more on that later).
It’s so important to start to acknowledge the voice for what it is: a part of you that wants to protect you from something that your ego mind really fears, whether it’s failure, fear of not being loved or liked, or fear of people finding out that you’re really a fraud.
There are many other fears that might be showing up unconsciously, however, those are a few that I’ve often seen when working with my clients. These fears generally originate from somewhere deeper down inside of you, and they are often connected with fears and hurts from earlier in life (childhood to young adult years).
There’s a lot of really deep and worthwhile internal work that can be done here with a coach or a therapist, however, if nothing else, developing a different kind of relationship with the inner critic inside of you will help immensely.
When in hustle mode (leading into entrepreneur burnout), people really identify with the inner critic. You see the world through the eyes of the inner critic, and when that’s the lens through which you understand yourself, it’s hard to step away from the hustle and the doing.
A lot of people are aware of this voice because it’s so loud and it’s often mean and harsh. But most people fight this voice, try to push it out of their minds, and actually end up using their work to avoid the voice, because the more they do, the quieter the voice is, which only reinforces chronic hustling.
Here are important things to remember and practice when dealing with the inner critic:
- Don’t fight with the inner critic, get curious about him/her. Ask the inner critic questions about itself, as if you were trying to get to know a person you just met. Follow your natural curiosity: when did it emerge? What’s it here to do? What is it afraid of? You can either journal with this part or do a meditation with it, picturing it sitting right next to you.
- If in this process you feel anger or other emotions coming to the surface that are keeping from stepping into the energy of curiosity, gently and respectfully ask those emotions to step aside for a minute, in service of getting to know this part a little more.
- Do your best to identify when the inner critic comes up in your every day, and interact with it, instead of fusing with it or avoiding it. Acknowledge that it’s there, and get curious about why it’s showing up right now, and what it’s there to protect you from and/or teach you.
When we do the work of showing up within ourselves with curiosity, it becomes easier to understand all parts of who we are, and therefore shift the power from this part of you running your life, into your True Self leading the way, with all your parts integrated within you, rather than being pushed away (consciously or unconsciously) away from you.
Ultimately shifting away from a place of burnout is about learning how to interact with the part of you that drives you to such an extreme.
This doesn’t mean getting rid of the drive, but allowing that part of you to become more moderate and healthy for you (and your business!) — and also avoiding feeling burnt out (big plus!).
(Visualize)…. your big picture vision
The hustle will keep your head stuck in the practicality and necessity of the every day, and if your head gets stuck there long enough, pretty soon you lose connection to WHY you are actually doing any of this.
What makes this personal to you? What do you truly desire to create in your life?
It’s so easy for the WHY to get lost in what has to be done both personally and in our business, and once the connection is lost, we generally start to circle in doubt of self and in doubt of the whole business.
Take some time and write out your WHY.
Sit in meditation with it. Really tune into the feelings you are experiencing in this future version of you and your business.
Who are you BEING in this future vision of your life?
What would be different about your thoughts, actions, your surroundings, your friends, how you are spending your time? How would you feel about yourself? What would you be experiencing?
This is not only for the purpose of helping you to reconnect with your WHY, but it’s also to help you in creating a blueprint for how you can step into that level of BEING now.
And I’m not talking about surrounding yourself with the material things that you’re picturing if you can’t financially afford it. What I’m saying is how can you tune into the frequency of what you are experiencing of that future version of yourself right at this moment?
Bridging that gap between where you are now and where you want to be isn’t about hustling even harder in order to “arrive” somewhere else (and thereby creating entrepreneur burnout), pushing away anything or any part of you that isn’t directly influencing the bottom line of your business. This only reinforces your current patterns and it doesn’t help you to expand to a different level.
What NEEDS to change is how you are in relationship to yourself and your business.
The more you align your way of BEING now, with the BEING that you see for yourself in the future, the more success, alignment and abundance you will feel today.
You can feel success right now because you already are successful.
You can feel abundant right now because you are already abundant.
You can feel joy right now because joy is available to you when you shift your attention towards it.
It doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be hard things in life and business, because there will be. And it’s not about bypassing your uncomfortable emotions— it’s actually the opposite.
It’s allowing yourself to be with and accept whatever shows up, which is what actually helps you to feel your abundance, success, and access to joy.
Once you stop making yourself wrong for what you’re feeling and thinking, for where you are right now…
Once you stop judging yourself so harshly, and you start shifting into accepting and building a relationship with all of those things inside of you…
Your whole relationship with yourself and your business begins to change, and through that process, you unveil who you already are at your core, without the limitations and thoughts that have accumulated along the way.
This work is always about unveiling yourself more, rather than changing yourself.
And entrepreneur burnout is ultimately a wake-up call for reconnection with yourself, your truth and your power.
Focusing on your why and on who you are BEING is helping you to access the “deeper you” underneath all the stories and should’s that often times rule our lives.
We all do it. And that’s okay. It happens because we are human.
What matters is that we can recognize when we’re steering off the path and getting lost in things that don’t serve us or the bigger picture vision, and are only keeping us stuck somewhere that doesn’t lead to true fulfillment and joy in our life.
And yes, not everything can be joyful, however when we choose to insert joy where we can, in whatever ways we can, perhaps some of those things that just aren’t joyful, feel a little less hard. And that makes a big difference when all is said and done.
Don’t lose hope of what you know already rests inside of you.
Listen to the inner knowing within you and trust it.
And when it’s feeling like nothing is working and that it’s all falling apart, just create space for you to feel all of that, and know that it’s not absolute truth, but a part of you that’s screaming to be seen and heard.
When you turn towards yourself instead of away from yourself, this whole entrepreneurship game changes and your ability to expand into the next level accelerates, with more ease and joy sandwiched in between all those to-dos.
About the Author:
Ana Kinkela is a spiritual leadership coach who guides women into embracing all parts of themselves by helping them shed layers of social, cultural and familial conditioning so that they can reclaim their Wildness and step into their power, truth and joy. She primarily works with driven, passionate entrepreneurs who have big visions, but who are often feeling stuck and lost because of the internal messages that play over and over in their minds which prevent them from fully showing up and leading as the embodiment of who they really are. Ana brings a unique perspective to her work: she is a therapist by background, holds a master’s degree in social work, and is a certified therapeutic yoga instructor. Her work centers on embodiment, love of self and community, conscious leadership, spiritual growth, attuning to the cycles of nature as a pathway to greater alignment, and living and leading in life as your True Self. You can follow her on IG: @wildsoulspeak