Some days I wake up and literally bound out of bed and down the stairs because I can’t wait to get in front of my computer and work on a particular project. Other days it’s all I can do to roll over, pull the covers off my body, and put two feet on the floor. While I think this is normal (I hope?), what happens when the fire inside you for your small business fizzles out and day after day you’re left with nothing but the memory of how much you used to love your work?
For starters, realize that you aren’t alone. A 2013 Gallup State of the American Workplace report revealed that almost three-quarters of all workers “are not engaged at work.” If you are one of them, then it is possible that you have something called burnout syndrome.
Burnout Syndrome Defined
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), burnout syndrome can be defined as “fatigue, cynicism, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress” and it is thought to be a contributing factor to the increasing number of people who are choosing to walk away from their careers and live a life of unemployment instead. Apparently, this particular syndrome comes in three different forms. These include working yourself to exhaustion, feeling bored and under-challenged, and lacking the motivation to overcome obstacles to achieve your goals. Sound familiar?
If you are nodding your head yes, then it is possible that you have this career-satisfaction-robbing condition. Not to worry though as it isn’t fatal—that is, unless it is stressing you out which, in that case, it could be harmful to your health (read What to Do When Owning a Business Is Raising Your Blood Pressure and discover ways to help reduce this effect). Fortunately, there are a few different “treatment” remedies that can help you reignite the fire inside you and learn to love your small business again.
Remember Your “Why”
Sometimes feeling burnt out can be a result of forgetting why you opened your small business in the first place. You get so caught up in the day-to-day operations like returning phone calls, attending meetings, and such that you fail to remember your original mission or vision. You kind of lose your purpose, which also makes you lose your passion too.
If this is the case for you, it is important that you think back and remember why you started your small business to begin with. Was it because you wanted to help others by providing a particular product or service? Was it to serve a need or fill a gap that you notice existed? What was it that made it easier for you to work 12 hour days and lose precious sleep night after night?
Get in touch with that feeling again and let it back into your heart. Ask yourself if the purpose still exists for you and, if it does, keep it in the forefront of your mind by writing it on a piece of paper and sticking it on your desk or making it your computer or cell phone wallpaper.
If it doesn’t, then you may need to do some soul searching to figure out why not. What has changed that makes your business no longer one of your driving passions? What factors are reducing your level of happiness in your work life?
Pretend It Is Your First Day
The one fairly common truth about passion is that it is typically strongest at the beginning. Take a new exercise program, for instance. On day number one, you show up at the gym and you’re ready to work up a sweat and push some iron, right? Well, this is the same type of passion you want to tap into, which is possible if you pretend that it is your first day.
Paid to Exist, a website dedicated to helping you “live & work on your own terms” suggests that you can do this by developing a beginner’s mindset. What this means is that you should approach your daily duties with a sense of curiosity as if it is the first time that you’ve done them. Play around with the things you do at work and look for more effective or enjoyment-enhancing options.
This can help break boredom if that is contributing to your workplace fatigue. It might also combat burnout because it forces you to look at your role from a different perspective. By stepping back and more or less going back to square one, you are better able to view whatever comes your way in a new and more innovative light.
Do The Things You Love To Do, Farm Out the Rest
What is the one thing that you dislike doing most in your position as a small business owner? In other words, what one task makes you want to call in sick, except you can’t because you’re the boss?
For me it is editing. Not only do I lack interest in the fine attention to detail that this particular job requires, but it actually physically hurts my body because I tend to lean in toward the computer screen when I am doing it. This means more backaches, headaches, and dizziness issues, making me dread the task even more.
So, when I am involved with a project that requires spending long periods of time editing, it’s all I can do to force myself to sit in my chair and begin the work. Of course, the easy fix is to not take jobs that involve this kind of work. And if that is possible for you as well, you might want to consider that option as well and just take the jobs you love most.
However, sometimes that isn’t really an option, such as when it is payroll or taxes or anything else that owning a small business requires. What can you do then?
One alternative is to delegate the task to someone else. If one of your employees has time and is capable of handling the task, why not assign it to him or her? Certainly, you should get this perk for owning your own business, shouldn’t you?
Another option is to hire the task out. While it may cost a little bit of money to take this route, you get to avoid doing the one thing you dislike the most. For instance, if it is bookkeeping that you don’t like, it may be worth the cost to hire someone else to perform this task, even if only on a part-time basis. And if it is performing quality control that has you down, hiring someone to do this one thing for you may be just what you need to be happy again.
Doing these three things may just help you put your burnout syndrome into remission and learn to love your work again.
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