Business Advice - The secret to not burning out
Michael Dalip, author
The Secret to Not Burning Out in Business In this fast-paced world, we want everything to be done now. We want everything to happen now. For some of us, we want everything to have been done and to have happened yesterday. Whilst many in the corporate world agree that this is the wrong attitude to have, there is little they are doing to change this approach – because let’s face it, secretly, they want you to push yourself to your maximum capacity for their benefit, at a great detriment to yours. Terms such as ‘work-life balance’ and ‘time poor’ are used regularly, without proper attention being paid to the consequences of always trying to get more done, and the fact that longer workers hours and poor social life and mental health is often the result. I remember the time I used to work at a Financial Planning firm years ago before I had kids and it all seemed normal. Hey, check my e-mails at midnight before bed? Of course! Tend to clients’ requests even at 4am in the morning? You’d be crazy not to! Get to the office by 8am and leave no earlier than 8pm? That’s got to be a given if you want that promotion right? The unfortunate consequence is that we burn out, and we burn out fast. Whilst this isn’t a statistic that is closely looked at, 45% of the population will personally suffer from a mental health event at some point in their lives according to the Australia’s Health 2018 report. Majority of these will occur because of pressures at work and from family (because of working too much – or supposedly not working hard enough for some). What is burnout when running a business? Burnout is a state of chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. A person suffering from a burnout can no longer be able to function effectively on a personal or a professional level. That being said, burnout doesn’t just happen overnight. You don’t wake up one morning and all of a sudden have burnout. You develop signs of physical and emotional exhaustion over time such as chronic fatigue, insomnia, forgetfulness, anger, depression, anxiety, loss of appetite, increased illness, and for some, even experiencing physical symptoms such as chest pains, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal pain, dizziness, fainting and headaches. When you are burnt out, you also experience loss of enjoyment in the little things that used to give you a sense of fulfillment, you are more pessimistic, you feel very isolated even when you have your family and friends surrounding you, and you feel heavily detached. For some, you might even experience feelings of hopelessness, increased irritability and lack of productivity. If you want to improve productivity consider studying business courses online or study a diploma of business by clicking here for course details. How can you prevent burnout in business? When you are trying to climb that corporate ladder, it might seem like a great idea to overdo everything – over impress, over work yourself, over think everything. Stop. Just stop overdoing everything. You don’t need to be a General Manager at 30. You don’t need to be the CEO at 35. You don’t need to conquer the world at 40. The average life expectancy of a boy born in 2016 is 80.4 years and the average life expectancy of a girl born in 2016 is 84.6 years. If you conquered everything at 40, what are you going to do with the remaining 40.4 or 44.6 years of your life? You need to learn to slow down and cherish everything around you. Make sure you take that month off each year and travel, or re-connect with friends and family you haven’t seen in a while, or take an art class and savour the beauty of your creativity. Take the time to relax and slow down. Your body is not built to withstand such high pressures you place on it and you need to take care of it, or risk being one of the thousands who battle with mental health issues. In Australia alone, the top disease burden for those under 45 is suicide, self-inflicted injuries and anxiety disorders. We need to work on ourselves and check in on our friends to make sure they’re not suffering from burn out. What can be done to prevent burnout in business? 1. Get more done in less time – researchers have found that our attention spans only really last for 90 minutes. So work hard for 90 minutes and take a 15 minute break to re-energise our minds and bodies. Schools in Denmark are already practicing this and only have their kids work for 90 minutes before taking a 30 minute break; then working again for 90 minutes and taking another 30 minute break. They continue this until it is home time. They have found that the kids learn better, are much much happier, and they have less behavioural problems. I teach this to all of my Diploma of Business and Diploma of Accounting students. I tell them that whilst chasing their dreams is important, they have to take care of number 1 (themselves) first and foremost. So each class, we do a yoga session before starting to clear their minds so that they can truly focus and get more done in less time. 2. Don’t be afraid to say no – we hear a lot of talk about opportunity cost. Every commitment you make has a financial, emotional, social, physical and time cost attached to it. Weigh up what is of a higher priority for you. Only say yes to the right tasks and invitations and don’t be afraid to say no. 3. Make yourself the most important project – don’t just have a 5-year plan. Have a 30-year plan. You might want to achieve something within 5-years but at what cost? To your health? To your mental state? Don’t forget that you’re chasing the world for your own benefit. Working longer hours is unlikely to make you more successful or productive. Do an audit on what is and what isn’t working for you and pay attention to what is consuming most of your time and energy. Seek out a mentor who can provide you with some wisdom on helping you achieve your goals without compromising your physical and mental health. Remember that successful people think strategically about how they are living, working and getting things done. Don’t forget that you are the most investment you will ever make.