I wasn’t burned out. I was scorched.
In the previous seven months, I had launched a new online personal development business, received awards and high profile recognition for my work and was finally doing something that felt impactful and meaningful. To the outside world I’m sure things looked rosy. In fact, that’s how it was supposed to look in the shiny world of social media, where every interaction is an opportunity to connect as a professional.
Behind the scenes, it was a different picture.
My father suffered a severe heart attack two days after I launched my business, and the same hour that my face was plastered all over leading self-development magazine Psychologies, I discovered how at risk he was. My husband was unexpectedly out of work for the third time in two years, and despite the growth of my business, it wasn’t yet enough to carry the family over a financial stretch. I had no option but to knuckle down and return to my previous work whilst building a new audience, and serving my new clients. All whilst looking after three children during the long seven week summer holidays.
It was a turbulent period, with stresses that my children were facing too. Yet I had to carry on. There was no choice, and I knew that what I was creating was about so much more than me, it was about teaching people the power of mindset.
The irony of being a Mindset Expert.
No matter how much I know about mindset as a Master NLP Practitioner, I am still human. The effects of constant personal and business pressure with high level stress became too much, but I didn’t know how to stop. I didn’t have a mentor or coach at the time. I didn’t have anyone I outsourced to and I had yet to begin collaborating. It was all on me.
I coped for months. That’s what I am, a survivor. I knuckle down and get on with it. Once my father recovered, my children returned to school, my husband settled into a new job, it was a different matter.
It was as though I was on a speeding high-tech driverless train that I couldn’t get off. I wasn’t sleeping, yet I was exhausted. I couldn’t focus, and I was emotional most of the time. I wanted to be asleep, all day, every day. There was an element of shame attached to how I felt. I’m a successful, capable woman. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I just get my new business to a place where it effectively ran itself? Why was I so burned out? I couldn’t think straight, my brain felt fuzzy and unfocused.
I had to STOP.
It was then I realised something about my language. I’d been saying over and over that I just wanted everything to STOP. So it had. My body had given me the experience I’d asked for. It was then I decided to let myself do what was needed.
I allowed myself to jump from the speeding train, and lie face down in the mud for a while. I let myself rest. I let myself breathe. I changed my language and the way I thought about the pressure I’d been under. I put myself back in control.
Within days of allowing myself total rest, instead of fighting that need to keep going, I was ready back on my feet, prepared to enjoy the entrepreneurial journey again, except this time no driverless train for me.
Since then I’ve worked with high end business coaches to learn that parts of the business I didn’t understand, I’ve outsourced, I’ve collaborated. I’ve found supportive communities where I can share my vulnerabilities with other entrepreneurs who understand. I’ve worked to automate as much of my business as possible. Chiefly though, I’ve been better at recognising the symptoms of burnout when they loom on the horizon, and making sure I switch off or slow down as soon as I realise. Just this week, even mid-launch, I took some downtime and cancelled non-urgent commitments. Nothing is more important than my health and mental strength.
I realised that if I’m on this entrepreneurial adventure, I want to dictate the pace. I’d rather meander through the countryside, and enjoy the journey than be out of control and on a fast-track to burnout. That’s why I make a fundamental part of the work I do as a coach now about the element of fun and adventure in your endeavours. Because what is success if you can’t enjoy it?