There is a very real and dangerous issue plaguing today's entrepreneurs: burnout. And, get this. The more passionate you are about your business, the more likely you are to suffer from burnout, according to this Harvard study.
I see references to resilience in entrepreneurs being tossed around as being a good thing, and it is, but the meaning of resilience is usually grossly misinterpreted. Resilience is about recovery from hard work and stress, not about pushing yourself to the limit. And, recovery requires self-care. Just as athletes need to allow for muscle recovery; entrepreneurs need to allow physical and mental recovery time.
Many entrepreneurs claim that there is no time for self-care; they almost always put themselves last on the list of priorities. These are the entrepreneurs who struggle, not only personally, but with achieving their goals. In fifteen years of helping entrepreneurs realize success and happiness, I can tell you that those who learn self-care achieve success faster, smarter, and with greater ease. They learn how to become truly resilient entrepreneurs. That means taking the time to recharge, making different choices, and yes, taking some calculated risks. This excerpt from yet another Harvard study says it well.
"Mustering your resources to 'try hard' requires burning energy in order to overcome your currently low arousal level. This is called upregulation. It also exacerbates exhaustion. Thus, the more imbalanced we become due to overworking, the more value there is in activities that allow us to return to a state of balance. The value of a recovery period rises in proportion to the amount of work required of us."
After reading that information, you may be thinking, "I really should take a vacation." Well, this isn't about prescribed tasks like taking frequent breaks, extravagant vacations (face it, vacation prep and recovery can be stressful) or spending the weekend at the pool with your cellphone nearby.
Resilience is gained by the benefit of taking time out to do things that are specific to your recovery needs. These are the actions and activities that are most likely to get your mind off of work so it can fully recover from work stress.
It's important to place yourself at the forefront, rather than allowing your self-care to be an afterthought. You may resist this idea at first, viewing it as counter-productive, but it's just the opposite. As a result of frequent and solid recovery time, you will be more clear-headed and gain more strength. You will work faster and smarter. You will get your health in check. You will make better decisions, feel fewer negative emotions, and be more creative. In other words, you will get yourself unstuck.
Set yourself up for self-care success.
The key here is to get your mind completely off of work and enjoy whatever it is you're doing at the moment. Think about how you can be more present during your time away from work. Put away your cellphone during meals, for instance. Focus on the people you are with, instead of allowing your mind to drift back to work. At work, keep stress at bay by restricting interruptions so you can focus intently on what you're doing.
What recharges your batteries?
Next, think about what makes you feel cared for but doesn't cause additional stress as you prepare for it. A massage, time with friends who know how to pamper you, seeing someone like a therapist or a coach who will not only listen but hear you. Asking for (and graciously receiving) help from others. How about time in nature? Meditation, yoga, exercise, a proper diet. What recharges your batteries?
Say no to things that you do out of obligation or for the purpose of pleasing others. This is not to suggest that you avoid activities with family and friends, but that you explore your reasons for doing them. Also, say no to employees and clients if their requests are frivolous or out of bounds.
What stops you from taking this time? For many entrepreneurs, it's that they're busy doing non-entrepreneurial tasks. Define these responsibilities and hire someone to take them over. I've said this in so many of my articles--that's because it works. When you spend your time mostly on money-making, growth activities your business will thrive.
Develop a growth mindset.
Change your perception of self-care rather than have a fixed, negative mindset around it. Self-care is not about indulgence--okay, maybe sometimes it is--but mostly it's about taking care of the engine that makes your company run, that's you. Do you consider an oil change for your car indulgent? No, it's akin to self-care, so why do so many entrepreneurs resist it?
Schedule daily time for yourself.
Lastly, schedule at least one hour a day to do something you enjoy and/or recharges your batteries. Choose something that will take your mind completely off of work. Also, prepare for a good night's sleep by avoiding activities that stimulate your mind for at least one hour prior to bedtime. Restrict blue screens from the bedroom.
It's time to put the oxygen mask on you first, others next, not the other way around. Now breathe and relax for a moment. Notice how good that feels. Take this opportunity to make a list of ways to restore your energy and find true resilience. Then, just do it.