Successful entrepreneurs burn as much energy as champion marathon runners; they not only run long, they also run fast. Some entrepreneurial ventures fail not from a lack of good ideas, but because they run out of gas. Here are 10 ways to avoid burning out before your race is run.
- Delegate. Trying to do it all is mentally and even physically exhausting. You have to find people you can trust, and then empower them to both make decisions and take care of details. Yes, letting go is hard, but if you insist on clinging to the rope, eventually you’ll lose your grip and fall into the abyss.
- Spot Check. Once you make the decision to delegate, your next problem is handling the fear that your business will spin out of control. The key to avoiding this worry burnout is mastering the art of spot-checking. By periodically and systematically auditing activities, you will gain confidence that your business is humming along – or recognize where it needs fine-tuning.
- Strategize. Without a clear strategy, your business will feel like a leaf blowing in the wind – directionless and unpredictable. Such a feeling cannot help but make an entrepreneur feel stressed. In contrast, having a strategy provides an entrepreneur with focus, direction and the ability to measure progress, enabling him or her to remain calm no matter how ferociously the wind blows.
- Cultivate Trusted Advisors. An old saying cautions that “it’s lonely at the top.” Since loneliness breeds burnout, make sure you have an inner circle of intelligent and interested people whom you can count on for advice, feedback, ideas or just to blow off steam.
- Vacation. If an entrepreneur is like a marathoner, then vacationing is like carb-loading. Just as runners need a big plate of pasta before the starting gun fires, entrepreneurs need occasional platters of playtime to prevent exhaustion.
- Exercise. Staying in good physical condition keeps you alert and energized. A well-rounded exercise program includes strengthening, flexibility, balance and cardio activities. Exercising takes time – 30 minutes a day or so – but pays huge dividends in terms of both the quantity and quality of your work.
- Eat Well. Exercise and diet go hand-in-hand. If you follow your workout with deep dish pizza, cheese fries and a supersize soda, you’ll spend your afternoons napping instead of working. On the other hand, a well-balanced diet helps keep you going full speed even on those seemingly endless workdays.
- Nap. Napping due to junk food overload is bad, but a 30-minute power nap in the afternoon may be just what you need to power through the rest of the day. If you think napping sounds a tad dainty, keep this in mind: If napping is good enough for the Chicago Blackhawks, it’s good enough for you!
- Drink. Drinking lots of water keeps your body and mind lubricated and agile. When it comes to consuming alcohol, however, moderation is everything. Guzzling a box of wine before breakfast: bad. A glass or two of red wine after a long day’s work: good. For many people, occasional, moderate drinking is physically and mentally relaxing, and may even help to reduce the risk of developing certain diseases. Learn more.
- Develop Your Spiritual Self. Whether through organized religion, meditation or something else, cultivating the spiritual side of your life brings balance, perspective and calm – all things invaluable to helping entrepreneurs muscle through tough situations and 60-hour work weeks.
As these suggestions illustrate, preventing burnout boils down to moderation and balance. In no way does this mean you should become less intense about your business. The point is, unchecked intensity quickly reaches a point of diminishing returns. That’s why for most people exercising 30 minutes a day is better than three hours a day, and why cultivating a handful of trusted advisors is preferable to a 100-person advisory council.
By the same token, working 60-hour weeks and doing nothing else may help you succeed in the very short run, but won’t help with what you really need – the stamina to run a marathon.