In 2021, I was hit with a serious case of entrepreneur burnout.
I’m gonna take a wild guess and say that 2020 was a bit of a rough year for everyone. 😅
And for me, that sort of bled into 2021. For the latter half of 2021, I was utterly and totally burned the F out, friends.
We’re talking a full six months of majorly struggling with regular life and business tasks that used to come SO naturally to me.
I wanted to talk about this topic because I know I’m not alone. Burnout is incredibly common amongst entrepreneurs. But despite this, it’s a topic that usually gets glossed over.
Sure, there’s a lot of content around the importance of self-care or how to prevent burnout from happening in the first place. But from what I’ve seen, there’s less information out there on what burnout actually looks like, how long it can last, and the true root causes of entrepreneur burnout.
If you think you might be experiencing burnout, this post will show you how burnout started, some burnout symptoms I experienced in my business, and some strategies I’m using moving forward to regain balance and heal.
Let’s get into it! 👇🏼
In the summer of 2021, I went through some major life changes that not only affected my personal life but also affected my business.
This led to a six-month period where I was really struggling with my mental health.
After some reflection, I realized a huge part of why I burned out was that I was giving away ALL of my mental energy.
In my personal life, I was giving too much of myself away to the point where I was no longer living for myself.
And in my business, I was doing the same thing. I was giving, giving, giving, without prioritizing doing the things in my business that I truly loved.
Pretty soon, I was in a constant state of overwhelm and in the throws of entrepreneur burnout. 😩
So what does burnout really mean, anyway?
When I say I experienced burnout, I mean my brain literally shut off to the point that I couldn't get up and do the things that I love doing every day.
There were moments where it was a struggle just to wake up and do regular self-care.
Reading, as an example, was something I’d always loved doing but started to feel impossible.
And when it came to my business, there were some things that I simply just couldn’t do anymore.
One of those things?
Posting on social media.
While yes, I absolutely LOVE my career as a social media content strategist, I knew I was not in the right headspace to be creating content.
I got by only doing the necessities - if I had an obligation to another content creator or a product I’d agreed to promote.
And while I wanted to do more, there were times I had to put a full stop to my plans. For example, I had wanted to do a big launch for the one-year anniversary of the Creative Content Lab. But I had to put a stop to all of my preparations, including the social media content.
Technically, I could have pushed through and pumped the content out. I have a team that helps me after all. But it wouldn’t have felt good to put that amount of energy out into the world knowing that I wasn’t in place to serve and support everyone.
I knew it was more than just the content - it’s the DMs and comments that need to be replied to, it’s the support emails to answer, and it’s being able to show up for my community with high energy and enthusiasm.
And realistically, I wasn’t in a place to do any of that.
Postponing my launch and putting a lot of my business plans on the back burner wasn’t easy.
But throughout this six-month period of entrepreneur burnout, I learned so many lessons. I dug deep into what was causing my burnout and how I could change moving forward to create a business that aligned with my ideal lifestyle.
Here are a few things I’m focusing on to banish burnout and find more ease in my business. If you’re seeing yourself in my entrepreneur burnout story, I hope these strategies and mindset shifts will help you make the changes necessary to create a more joy-filled business, too!
1. Saying No to What Drains Me (And Yes to What Lights Me Up)
This was the year that I started to focus on what I truly wanted as a person and business owner.
In the past, I’ve always been a chronic people-pleaser. My default mode is ‘say yes to everything!’.
This year, I had to sit in the discomfort of telling people no.
I had to prioritize the things that truly mattered and made me happy in business. Even if it hurt other people’s feelings, or lets others down.
It definitely wasn’t easy. But now that I’m on the other side, I’m so happy I had the courage to let go and say NO to what was no longer lighting me up.
I got clear on the fact that doing social media management was no longer my jam.
While I’d previously stopped accepting new clients, and getting rid of clients I no longer aligned with, by the end of 2021, I realized I needed to stop altogether. It wasn’t even about the clients, it was about me.
I ended up passing on all of my clients because I needed to take this burnout and turn it into something productive.
My entrepreneur burnout helped me realize that my dream business wasn't being a social media manager or a social media agency.
It allowed me to re-focus and reprioritize my energy. Instead, I'm going to start focusing on the things that I love to do, which are teaching, educating, speaking, and creating content.
2. Building a Solid Foundation
Whenever I had a burnout in the past, it usually lasted for a week or two, or maybe a month.
But in this case, I experienced a six-month-long burnout - and that is definitely something that I never want to happen again.
While I know burnout could always creep back, I’ve put certain systems in place to make my business more efficient and remove as much as possible.
That might mean that in the short term, I make less revenue. But I know that I’m setting up a foundation for long-term success.
Taking a step back is going to propel me three steps forward.
I’m going to grow and scale in a way that’s sustainable, rather than growing too quickly without a solid foundation, and burning out (again).
My ultimate focus for the year ahead?
Working less, living more, and having my business work for me. 💪🏼
3. Designing My Days My Way
I used to try and be the person to wake up at 6 am and squeeze in a workout, followed by a 10-step morning routine, and then logging on to my computer by 9 am for a full day of calls.
Whew, now I’m the type of person who gets exhausted just reading that. 😅
Now, I won’t accept a phone call or Zoom call unless it's absolutely necessary.
I’m also allowing my body to wake up naturally. I’ve said goodbye to the 5 AM club and started waking up closer to 7:30, allowing myself to take my time in the mornings and eat a nutritious breakfast, and starting my day when it feels right.
By easing into my day, I’m allowing myself to slow down and start my days with calm instead of hustle. I’m giving myself the creativity and freedom to design my days my way as an entrepreneur, which ultimately to weeks, months, and years.
4. Abandoning Perfectionism
Adopting a healthier mindset is a huge part of abandoning entrepreneur burnout. When I was reflecting on 2021, I realized that I’d always been extremely hard on myself.
I resolved to give myself the grace to fail along the way in my business journey.
I never allowed myself to fail. I always beat myself up and tried to make sure every single thing in my business went ‘perfectly’. Being in a perfectionist mode kept me stuck in hustle culture for so long.
By learning how to say no, building a solid foundation, and focusing on the things that light me up and bring me joy, I *know* I’m going to create some awesome things in 2022 here at A Creative Co.!
I’d love to know…have you ever suffered from entrepreneur burnout? Does my story sound familiar? Let me know in the comments if you can relate.