Being an entrepreneur can be a grind. Day after day, you have to commit to doing the small, disciplined things that will take you to the next level. The daily grind isn’t always glamorous, and it can take years before you succeed. In addition to keeping up with the demands of your business, you may have kids to take care of, a spouse who needs you, commitments to friends, neighbors or your church you need to keep; and yet, the to-do list for your job isn’t getting any smaller. It can lead to downright burnout, which makes everything in your life seem difficult – even simple tasks like getting out of bed in the morning.
Burnout is a real thing and entrepreneurship is a constant grind. No one is at the finish line cheering you on. You’re often on an island all alone, working hard to make your dream come to life.
When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re your own motivator. No one is making you get to the office early or work on the weekends. Yet, you find yourself going above and beyond because there are a million things to do, and the only option is to succeed. Not to mention the fact that if you have employees, you probably feel enormous pressure to hit your revenue goals so you can make your payroll each month.
I’ve been in this exact position. Being your own boss can be extremely stressful and it’s easy to burn out when you’re working 12-hour days with no gratification. No one is patting you on the back for putting in the work, and on top of the stress, working long hours may create tension at home with your family and spouse.
Even if you haven’t reached your goals yet, you still need to take time to recharge each week, so you can avoid burnout and keep working hard. Remember: you have to take care of yourself along the ride, or you’ll never reach your destination.
Here are five ways I’ve learned to recharge over the years:
1) I get seven to eight hours of sleep every night. I didn’t always do this and I know it may seem impossible for you at the moment. The reality is, the work you have to do will still be there in the morning. Do what you absolutely HAVE to do each day first, so the work that’s secondary is last and can be put off till tomorrow if necessary. Studies show your brain and your body only recover adequately if you get seven to eight hours of sleep per night. I’m religious about my sleep time and often get made fun of over it by friends and family, but I don’t care. I perform at my peak state when I have adequate sleep each night. This means that by 8:30 p.m., I put my phone up, head to my room for quiet time, and it’s lights out by 9:00 p.m. Then, I wake up at 4:30 a.m. to get my body moving so I feel energized and ready to take on the day. In all honesty, I do this 90% of the time, but there are plenty of times my kids get home late from practice and I’ll stay up to see them for a few minutes, but the majority of the time, that’s my time to sleep. I try to stick to this schedule on the weekends, too, give or take an hour. When I stick to this schedule, I find that my brain is sharper, my body feels more rested, and I start the day in peace.
2) Create a peaceful place in your home. Mine is in our backyard. After work, I come home, leave my phone alone for a few hours, chat with my kids about their days, cook dinner and connect with my husband. When the weather is nice, we like to cook dinner, eat outside, listen to music and get in the hot tub before bed – it’s a great way to unwind and recharge my battery for the day. If I’ve had a difficult day and I make it home before everyone else, I like to sit in the backyard in silence, take deep breaths and listen to the sounds of nature. I let all the negative thoughts of the day leave my mind and my body, so when everyone is home, I’m a more positive version of myself. Your peaceful place might be a local park or even your bedroom, just make sure it’s somewhere you can escape for just a little while.
3) Move your body! It may seem counterproductive to move your body in order to recharge or relax, but working out does that for me. I’m able to sweat out all of the emotions, hardships and stress I’ve been carrying and I always feel like a lighter, uplifted person when I finish. It’s hard for me to unwind and take a break from the thousands of thoughts that seem to be swirling around in my head, but I find that when I get out of my mind and into my body, I never regret it. If you don’t have time for an hour-long, intense workout at the gym, even just walking a mile around your neighborhood or doing a 15-minute yoga class on YouTube will benefit you.
4) Change up your environment. Changing your physical location gives you a new perspective in your life. For example, if you’re working from home every day and having a hard time getting motivated, change it up. Go work at a local coffee shop or cafe – just getting dressed and getting out of the house will instantly make you feel more motivated. If you have the opportunity to travel, I highly encourage you to go someplace that inspires you. It doesn’t have to be out of state or country either, even just taking a quick weekend trip to a new city can help you get a fresh perspective and recharge. An added bonus of taking a little time off is that I usually come back with a new business idea, too. I know a lot of entrepreneurs who haven’t taken a vacation in years because they think their businesses will suffer, but I promise you it’s actually the opposite. Your business is hurting because you’re burned out and are unable to bring 100% of yourself ever yday. Schedule a vacation at least once a year, even if it’s a mini staycation at home with your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode!
5) Make time for friends and family. Life isn’t just about work. I’ve had many years where work is what I thought about the majority of the time, but I’ve learned to work hard during a specific time frame so I can play hard, too. Have set hours when you work and leave all other distractions to the side, and then have specific friends and family time when you set work aside. I work hard during the day, and then once I get home, it’s all about my family. I try to always make time for friends, too, whether that’s planning a dinner out or even a girls’ trip. In my opinion, maintaining strong friendships is such an important part of being a successful adult.
I want you to think back to your last vacation, or the last time you spent some quality alone time. How did it make you feel? Start to notice your body and your mind and the things you do throughout your life that enable you to recharge. There’s no right or wrong answer, it’s all about what makes you feel like the best, most capable version of yourself. Find things that bring you inner peace and let you forget the stress of life so you can properly recharge.