Nearly every successful person I know has grappled with burnout. I’ve personally gone through it and come out the other side several times. I did it by using these four techniques:
1. Truly disconnect.
In today’s business world, we are constantly tethered to our BlackBerries and “always-on” connections. As a result, when we truly disconnect from time to time, the effect is almost magical.
By “disconnecting,” I mean being totally out of touch with work.
On a recent trip to Baja, for example, I did something that might seem a bit over the top: I “black holed” all my e-mails during that week. Everyone who e-mailed me got an automatic response letting them know who to contact for help or support while I was gone, and asking them to e-mail me again after my return if they still needed me. Then their e-mail was deleted.
Most businesspeople are scared to death to do this, worrying that they might miss something incredibly urgent. Then they come back from vacation and are even more stressed out than they were before they left, because they’ve got 2,313 e-mails sitting in their inbox.
If you just sorta disconnect instead of completely disconnect, there’s always a tiny voice in the back of your head replaying, over and over again: “Wow! I wonder how much e-mail I’ll have to catch up on? I wonder what’s going on back at the office?” You’ve got to totally cut this off to free up more “Psychic RAM” in your head.
2. Refocus on your successes.
Many times, the feeling of burnout occurs because things are NOT going “right.” Keeping in mind that “right” is a relative term (and I believe everything ends up the way it should be, no matter what), the way to overcome this form of burnout is to change your focus.
Focusing your energy on what’s wrong only creates an endless spiral of more and more negativity. Instead, take out a piece of paper and start making a list of every “victory” you’ve had during this year, this quarter, this month, or this day. When you do that, selective perception kicks in… and you’ll see that there is significantly more good than bad going on.
3. Set a major goal that you cannot achieve on your own.
I admit, I’ve only just started doing this. But I can already see how it leads to a powerful change of direction, intention, and motivation. And that can get anyone out of a funk.
I’m talking about setting what Jim Collins and Jerry Porras call a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” or BHAG – a concept they introduced in their book Built to Last. This is the kind of goal that rallies the troops and gets them to transcend what they themselves thought was possible. One famous example is Microsoft’s original goal of “A computer on every desk and in every home.”
Our company’s 2020 BEHAG is three-fold:
Motivate, inspire, and educate 1,000,000 young entrepreneurs to start their own ventures.”Maverick-ize” 1,000,000 successful entrepreneurs to buy into the philosophy of making more, having more fun, and giving more.
Have 1,000,000 cumulative items checked off entrepreneurs’ BIG life lists.
And the ultimate goal is to change the way business is played. To me that means bringing more fun into business and never doing things the same way they’ve been done.
4. Get back to the fun.
Think back to when you were a kid – to the things that got you really jazzed and excited. What did you like to do? For me, it was playing sports, drawing, and making people laugh. That’s why I still play ice hockey and beach volleyball. Why I’ve taken art classes and stand-up comedy classes. I make sure I incorporate activities into my life that give me enjoyment by making them a priority.
How many times have you heard yourself saying, “I’d love to ___ BUT I can’t because I’m too busy.” That’s total B.S. What you’re really saying is that you have not made that activity enough of a priority in your life. Or that you feel guilty about having fun.
For most entrepreneurs, work is our default setting unless we have something else scheduled. Don’t settle for enjoying life only when you can squeeze it in between business. Put fun activities, rewarding experiences, and exceptional adventures on your calendar and protect them like you would any other appointment.
As Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz say in their book The Power of Full Engagement, “The richer and deeper the source of emotional recovery, the more we refill our reserves and the more resilient we become.“
Give all four of the above ideas a try when you’re feeling burned out or when you’re trying to break free. They’ve worked for me – and they’ll work for you too.
[Ed. Note. Yanik Silver has successfully bootstrapped 8 different product and services ideas from scratch to 7-figures+ without funding, taking on debt or even having a real business plan. He is the founder of the Underground Online Seminar® and the new Maverick Startup book. Part of Yanik's 2015 "Maverick Mission" includes RE-inspiring 1,000,000 entrepreneurs to combine and create more profits, more happiness and more impact through their businesses. You can catch with him on www.MaverickMBA.com.]