How to Recognise Burnout: 9 Unexpected Symptoms

symptoms of burnout

One day you wake up and decide that you’re ‘over it’.

Work, business, career… maybe even life in general.

But hang on a second!

If you´re experiencing any of the following symptoms you’re not ‘over it’, you might be burnt out.

It´s a serious condition of our times and a symptom of our striving entrepreneurial culture.

A lot of doing and not enough of the things that bring us back to equilibrium – like a focus on thriving physical health as a strategic imperative.

So before you pack up your ideas and throw the baby out with the bath water, check out the symptoms below.

Once you know you’re burnt out you can do what it takes to get in tip top shape again so you can keep moving forward with your ideas.

 

1. Your ‘who, what, why’ becomes muddy and confused.

 

Your holy grail collapses. You started off really clear about what you wanted to do, who you wanted to help, and why. But lately you can’t seem to connect the three to each other, and your mission feels like it’s fading before your eyes.

Reality check: This is brain fog. Mental clarity cannot co-exist with constant stress. Our flight-flight response was designed to help us make life-guiding decisions during short-term calamities, not for weeks and months of acute stress everyday.

Sometimes we need to step back, pause, celebrate where we’ve got to, and re-assess our strategy.

 

2. You can’t be bothered to tell people what you do anymore OR what you’re trying to build.

 

The front-end symptom of a muddy who, what why, it’s hard to convey excitement when you just don’t feel any. That natural energy & enthusiasm you had at first has dissipated and that’s translating directly to the tone, voice, style and vocabulary with which you talk about your ideas.

Reality check: Every person and every business needs a vision. A one page vision (learn how to write one here) is the single most important reminder of what you’re doing and why. Keep copies of it by your bed, at your desk, in your day bag. Read it on waking and last thing at night.

Read it when you’re down. It’s the original essence with which you started something. And it will re-ignite your passion when you need a firecracker.

 

3. You begin to resent your audience and customers.

 

For every offer, discount and flash sale that gets no clicks, enquires or purchases you begin to resent the people you want to help the most. Don’t they know what’s good for them? Don’t they know I’m trying to help them? Why the f*ck are they so blind to this incredible product or service I’ve created for them?

Reality check: Building a business takes time. Sometimes your offer bombs, your sales are low or non existent and it takes several iterations or a completely different direction to find commercial success.

You’re job is to experiment — to make something so incredible that your offer flies off the shelf, by researching, asking your customers for feedback, and iterating until you nail it.

 

4. Every single piece of feedback feels like gut-wrenching criticism.

 

At the start you welcome and actively seek out constructive criticism from your friends and family and your first round of customers. You want help to make your products and services the best things since sliced bread. But all of a sudden it’s relentless, doesn’t feel helpful because there’s just so much of it, and tweaking starts to feel like a full-time job.

Reality check: Once you’re up and running with legitimate customers you can organise more structured ways to get feedback on certain topics through things like Google Forms and Survey Monkey. You could do it quarterly or bi-anually to get a sense of how your stuff is serving your customers. And then plan a chunk of time to iterate and/or make significant changes to your product or service.

 

5. You write yourself off as a failure.

 

Nothing is working out how you planned it; everything is out of control. You feel a soul-deep sense of doom and even looking at your emails makes you regret the day you decided to start up in the first place.

Reality check: Business takes on a life of its own. Working long hours with your ideas and lead to a blurring of boundaries: where do you end and your idea begin? Many people refer to their business as ‘birthing a baby’ which indicates how intimately we connect with our projects. But you gotta remember: you are not your idea. They exist through you, but are not you.

 

6. You struggle to make clear decisions and stick to them.

 

One day you want to put your project in the incinerator and start from scratch; the next you want to take a 4 month trip to South America to find yourself; the next you want to become a yoga teacher (because who isn’t?); the next you want to go back to college to retrain in a new career, and the next you think it would be a great idea to re-position your business and re-launch it to a new audience.

Reality check: You have to learn to ask the most important question: What do I need right now. Working 24-7 is never going to solve your problems. And in fact the best ideas are born in a vacuum. Create some space in your life, do something different, and that inner well of creativity will flow through you again. You’ll get ideas in the shower, hiking up a hill, gardening, at the movies. But you gotta make time to do those things first! Having fun is the best way to fire up your idea machine.

7. You overreact to everything.

 

Your partner, friends and family get to meet your inner diva. Entrepreneurzilla!

 

8. You crave isolation.

 

You’re tired, can’t be bothered to tell people what you do, and dread the questions:

 

So how’s your business going?

How did that launch go?

Got many customers yet?

How much money are you making these days?

 

So of course you might want to avoid the awkward silence tinged with varying degrees of embarrassment and humiliation by hiding. At first you’ll convince yourself that it’s because you really need to focus; but really you just want to shut the world out.

 

Reality check: It’s natural to want to avoid the tough questions but there are two sides to this coin. One: There is some stuff you will share and some stuff you won’t share about your business. Ever.

Often people think that because you’re doing something new and novel they have the right to know how it’s going. But you also have the right to explain that there are some aspects of your business you just don’t want to talk about. Like your sales and… personal finances!

The other side is this:

There’s always something good you can share to build enthusiasm and support around your ideas. This stimulates conversation, gets conversation and ideas flowing, and inspires you to look at things from different angles.

You might talk about why you don’t use instagram, why you changed your target audience, how ONE customer sent you a rave review. Pick the most positive things happening in your projects and talk about them.

 

So how’s your business going? It’s going great! I’ve just started experimenting with Instagram.

How did that launch go? I had a 6% sign up rate (they don’t need to know it was a list of 6)

Got many customers yet? You wouldn’t believe the feedback I got this week from a beta tester.

How much money are you making these days? Tell them you live in an apartment 50 yards from the beach in Mexico and that might change their line of questioning!

 

9. You no longer enjoy creating or making.

 

Or that thing that you’re really good at that you started a business around in the first place. And it starts to feel like another task, or even chore. Maybe you don’t even feel like you care anymore. And that’s scary, and upsetting.

Reality check: Business is about so much more than being good at what you do. There’s planning & strategy, website, list-building, communications, marketing, working with clients, and — yes! — making, creating and iterating your ideas. That’s a lot of work to do. Each of the above are a full time job. In fact, in my formerly agency life you might get 80 spread across these various roles, and people were still working overtime!

But how do you divide yourself up and get it all done? Decide how many hours a week you want to work. 10 hours? 60 hours? And then as the founders from SoulfulMBA suggest, spend 50% on your product or service, and 50% on MARKETING.

This is just a starting point, but you gotta start somewhere, and you gotta stop burning the candle at both ends. Then you get dedicate time to build your business, and dedicate space to enjoy your ideas.

 

Can you identify with any of the feelings or thoughts we’ve just talked about?

 

Which ones do you recognise; and how are they affecting your life and work?

If you recognise any of the thought patterns above and what to bulletproof your mindset against them, you’ll love my signature course, The Freedom Philosophy.

It’s a mindset & lifestyle guide that helps you:

  • Enjoy a more joyful and meaningful process of growing your business into something successful.
  • Craft better, more effective plans that make better sense for your goals.
  • Experience more freedom as you shift your focus from making money to building a freedom life.
  • And avoid burnout.

 

Come over here to register and find out more.