The conversation no one seems to want to have is the link between burn out and our desire to conquer the world.
I think it’s really easy to be caught up in the idea that if someone else can do something, you can too. There are so many small business people, startup entrepreneurs and freelancers looking eagerly to peers for advice. You see those amazing things the other person does with their business, and you start feeling insignificant.
You sense you’re behind the curve, almost left behind.
The tug of needing to know so many things is overwhelming.
It’s like an ocean.
And sometimes the waves get too big. Only there isn’t lifeguard to save you.
The anxiety and the feeling of exhaustion that chases you is burn out. There is no question. And even if you continue to put one foot in front of the over, that doesn’t mean burn out hasn’t got you in its clutches.
So when your dreams are crushing you, where can you turn?
Maybe there is a place. See if you can relate to the feelings described below.
There are so many things you could be doing for your business that you aren’t. Yet here are your competitors playing freely, enjoying the sunshine and playing at everything you struggle to do.
Their Instagram feed is luscious and liked while yours is barren. They are eagerly telling you about their DIY SEO or fantastic new partnership via their bountiful blog. They’ve been featured in some online magazine twice now, and you still can’t think of the story that’s newsworthy. Facebook for them is witty and delightful banter with customers. Yours looks dry and unsatisfying.
And you know these things. How these important things make all the difference. They leak into your dreams at night and steal the sleep right out from beneath them. They awaken you with dull aching sweats and moments of panic.
You’re in the wasteland. You are nobody.
You are not the cool kid with all the sassy content. You are the person who is chasing leads, looking after the business, and barely having enough time in the day to help your customers. Let alone throw hours you don’t have behind oodles of self promotion. You honestly don’t know how they fit it in.
Maybe you have a few things working for you. Maybe you do OK. But that pressure of seeing everyone else seem to nail it really hurts.
You’re reading all the right books and following all the right blogs. You’ve paid for the courses. You’ve joined the advice group.
And yet, it all seems like you’re peddling in pudding. If only you could work out what the secret is.
The business is pumping. The leads keep coming through. Your social media is the envy of everyone else. You’re always the first to manage to squeeze out a blog or two a month to keep the SEO Gods happy.
And yet, it’s like being a circus trained octopus. To keep all these plates spinning, you lose a little of yourself each week. Those grand dreams of doing your creative projects on the side or spending more time with the family are the first things to fall off the TO DO LIST.
Sometimes you are so busy, it’s hard to remember when you got out of your chair and made a cup of tea. It’s just you and a thousand demanding emails. And a list that seems to grow each time you put another pen line through.
And the pace, oh the pace.
If everything could just slow down for one minute. If the dark shadow of that deadline didn’t loom or emails didn’t sprout like mushrooms in a forest, you might find some peace. Everything is down to the wire. There is no more you and no more room to give.
As soon as someone doesn’t play ball, the stress is enormous.
There goes the carefree yet in control feeling. Here comes the hyper-stomach of dread. You can’t say no to that marketing request. You can’t believe you made that scheduling mistake. You wish the other guy would just get his stuff together properly so you didn’t have to send so many emails following up.
And the phone, oh the phone.
It rings and demands, disrupts and torments.
But you’ll get through because you have to. Teeth clenched, bum firmly planted in chair. One foot in front of the other you march through the important stuff (you can make it up on the weekend!).
As long as you keep the plates spinning, spinning, spinning.
You’ve put it off as much as you can. This project you weren’t that keen on in the beginning. You keep chiding yourself about not taking your business in the direction you want, but here you are yet again taking on a task you know you will have to force yourself to finish.
The days you allowed were ample. You could have taken your time. But now you are in the eleventh hour like a recalcitrant teen trying to do the assignment the night before the grading, hoping the damn client won’t notice.
If only you could win the work and not have to worry about the detail. Or that the elation of the deposit could carry through.
Why oh why is it so hard to find the motivation to simply knuckle down and do it?!
What happened? When you first started out, things were entirely too simple. It was easier to break through the work and make the movement you needed to towards completion.
But now, you are stuck, stuck in the rut. The mud is thick and the draw is short and you…oh how you wish you had one of those days back to squander.
Back to the project you go. You pushed it around your TO DO LIST like cold vegetables on a plate. But now, it’s crunch time. It’s time to swallow the medicine.
Why is it so hard to choke work down?
If you can relate to any or all of the above, chances are you are close to burn out. You’ve most certainly stopped doing your best work in favour of work that will simply get you from one job to the next.
It’s time to take a step back and realise the competitor you so envy is getting into your head. So much so, you are losing focus on what matters.
Or you’re so busy being the competitor everyone wants to be, you’re one bad day away from cracking up and crying down the telephone to a customer.
If you’re winning the business and then shying away from doing the business you’ve won, you’re an eyelash away from losing your business completely.
Don’t try to be everything to every person. It’s exhausting and makes most of us crazy. Take a moment to rethink your business and truly admit what you want to get out of it. After all, no one starts their own freelance career or small business with the intention of having a shitty time.
You chose this work because there was some lifestyle benefit. Take it back!
Your dreams shouldn’t hurt you. They should be the insulation against the bumps on the road you receive and the reason to still get up in the morning when things beyond your control happen.
Life is hard enough without making a rod for your back from the very ideals and ideas you used to hold dear.
And let’s get you back to the place where your dreams are the things that propel you forward.
Because if you can relate to this post, you’re clearly in need of some life realignment so you can feel better.
Tags: burn out, business, depression, mental health, motivation, overwhelm, stress relief
After growing up in a dusty farming district where happy moments were few and far between, Rebekah packed a bunch of books and headed off in pursuit of education, the sea and a sense of anonymity that simply can’t be found in a town of 200.
Keenly aware she was an outsider, Rebekah attempted to discover happiness via five universities, island living, and all the wrong kind of activities before she triumphantly discovered she was potentially the happiest marketing nerd alive.
Rebekah has carved out a career through connecting people. She spent over seven years working in the dating industry, has worked agency-side in the tough Asian advertising world, and now freelances in marketing and content creation for community, social enterprise and startup ideas.
When she isn’t listening to prog and post rock as it pours out of her partner’s guitar, she’s connecting women as the Head of Disruption for Discordia Zine, marketing and writing as Unashamedly Creative, advocating for freelancer happiness via the Freelance Jungle, or being reminded that life is random, creative and silly by her Labrador, Gibson.
Yesterday the world lost Chris Cornell to an apparent suicide.…
Marketing and business wouldn’t be where they are without scarcity…
In 2015, Hacking Happiness took ‘the myth of worklife balance…
Your email address will not be published.
Sign me up for the newsletter!
Subscribe to our newsletter