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4 Signs You Are on the Road to Burn Out

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4 Signs You Are on the Road to Burn Out

My husband, aka my business partner, has a little story he rolls out every now and then. It starts with him saying ‘You know when you fly and in the safety talk they tell you if there’s an emergency to fit your own oxygen mask first, why do you think that is?’ and ends with me realising that I’m on the fast track to burning out.

Being in business with your spouse isn’t without its challenges. But it also has it perks, one of them being an accountability presence. Someone to pull you up and call you out. Someone to remind you to slow down and start taking care of yourself.

Putting yourself first is a concept we’re not very good at in Australia. Our culture tends to lean toward it being selfish, but if you think about it, it’s anything but.

Not long after our oxygen mask discussion, he asked me, “if I had a limited food supply, who would I feed first, myself or the kids?” I answered the kids and I think many parents would say the same. “Well congratulations”, he told me, “You may have just killed the kids and yourself. They rely on you for survival and by putting their needs before your own, all you’re doing is weakening yourself. Instead, put yourself first, stay strong. Get better and more efficient at providing for them. Teach them. That is the only way you would all survive and flourish.”

In a lot of ways, owning a business is just like having a child. For many Small Business owners juggling business, finances and family is stressful and isolating. You get caught up in the chaos and become almost robotic to get through the day. The business comes first, you come last.

And BANG! Without even realising it, your life becomes about surviving that moment. All those grand plans you had to begin with, forgotten. Motivation gone. Forget about the next day, next week, year or exit strategy; that’s all a distant memory.

Prevention is the key to survival. Here are my top 4 signs you could be on the road to destruction and you need to start putting yourself first:

1. Exhaustion

For me, this is biggest sign that something isn’t right. It’s an early warning. I’m heavy and tired and no amount of sleep or caffeine can restore my energy levels. The cure is a break. Some time to breathe.

2. Lack of Motivation

After the exhaustion comes a complete lack of motivation.

Go back to your ‘why’. Why did you start your business and what are you aiming to achieve?

3. Short Temper

Hands up if when you’re stressed and tired you find yourself getting irritated really quickly at the smallest things.

The problem is, left unchecked, this type of behaviour can create huge cultural issues within a business.

4. Unhappiness

This is without a doubt the biggest sign that it’s time to start looking after yourself. If you’re unhappy, you’ve let it go too far. You’re now in a weakened state, the people that rely on you could also be in bad shape.

It is now time for you to work out what makes you happy.

I’ll be the first to admit I struggle with putting myself first. But with a business and a family relying on me to be a strong and capable leader I’ve had to learn fast. If you feel as though you are burning out please reach out to someone in your family or your network or seek advice from a medical professional.

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