“Sometimes I worry about being a success in a mediocre world.” Lily Tomlin
If you own your own business, it is very easy to burn yourself out. There are three tracks that lead to the stress and the feeling of powerlessness that create extreme exhaustion, otherwise known as burnout. One track begins with worry. This article looks at the steps along that track and what you can do to help yourself before you get burnt out.
There are so many things that can go wrong when you run your own business. How many times have you lost sleep because a contract fell through, you couldn’t make payroll, a big box store was moving into your market, or employee morale or productivity was low, etc.?
There are also many things that can go well when you run your own business. Some of us worry about success, too much incoming work, too much income leading to higher taxes, too many golden opportunities, or expanding the business. If we are prone to worry, we can easily find something to worry about!
Unfortunately, the more we worry, the more we have reason to worry. Worry can cause us to overextend ourselves. We may work longer hours, take greater financial risks, promise faster turnaround on projects, take on more responsibilities, or make more commitments than we have the time to fulfill. Worry can fatigue our minds and overextension can fatigue our bodies. Between the two, we have a disaster waiting to happen, which gives us additional reasons to worry.
When we overextend ourselves, we aren’t able to meet deadlines, follow through on promises or fulfill expectations. We have even less time to plan, monitor, and trouble shoot so that we can get off of this downward spiral. The quantity and the quality of our work suffer. Who said: The faster we go, the behinder we get? Now we really have something to worry about!
When worry causes us to overextend ourselves and fill every waking hour with work, we have no time to rest or replenish ourselves. This lack of balance in our lives can be devastating on many levels. If we work to provide for our families, the more we work, the less time we have to spend with our families. Our relationships begin to suffer. If we pride ourselves on being a good parent, spouse, life partner, sibling or child, this will take a huge toll on our sense of self worth.
Without balance in our lives, when bad things happen in our business we have nothing else to bolster us up. We lack sufficient resources to respond to business troubles in a constructive, problem solving fashion. Exhausted, we easily fall prey to worry and fear.
When we worry so much that we overextend ourselves, filling every available hour so that we have no balance in our lives, exhaustion and fatigue cannot be far behind. The more we push ourselves, the more exhausted we become, and our health will suffer. Inadequate rest, meals eaten on the run or not eaten at all, long hours spent hunched over a computer, at a desk, or on the road- will all eventually impact our health.
Now there’s another worry nightmare: if we are too sick to work, deadlines won’t be met, clients won’t be served, everything will fall to pieces and our business will fail. Let’s not even consider the cost of health care, particularly if we don’t have health insurance coverage.
We quickly start to stress about everything because we are so exhausted and driven that we have no objectivity. Fatigued, in poor health, dealing with ruined family relationships, we end up with no coping mechanisms in place. As a result, a pervasive feeling of powerlessness can further paralyze us.
It may be human nature to worry, but worry never solved anything. Anonymous said it best: “Don’t tell me that worry doesn’t do any good. I know better. The things I worry about don’t happen.”
When we worry so much that it paralyzes us with fear, we have a real problem. Don’t let it get to that point. When worry starts to take over your life, take a step back and take a deep breath. Be thankful for all of the gifts, both large and small, in your daily life. Then make a plan.
I won’t insult you by telling you, don’t worry, be happy. I think that a more useful mantra is: don’t worry, take action!
To help those of us who are highly stressed or facing burnout, I have posted a white paper on Hot Tips for Good Mental Health on my website at https://laurelandassociates.com.
In next week’s Tip, we will look at the third track to burnout that begins with insufficient income.
May your learning be sweet.