Building our defenses

When you see a post in the group about burnout, does it feel like a familiar stab? Like someone is narrating a page from your life story? Happens to me every single time — and we had another one of those posts this week.

It got me to thinking… Why is it that burnout almost feels like a rite of passage for entrepreneurs? It’s as if burnout is the price we have to pay for the freedom owning your own business affords you.

And burnout isn’t something to easily dismiss… It’s not just a case of “feeling a little tired”; it can be just as serious (and lead to) chronic depression. I’m not a therapist — so I do my best to avoid telling people how to work their way through burnout (other than I would highly encourage you to seek professional help (you’re worth it!)). However, I do think there is power in recognizing what causes burnout in the first place so we can build our defenses.

  1. Boundary Buster. Ever notice how “office hours” tend to creep further into dinner time? Or how the first thing you do when you open your eyes is brace yourself as you open your email on your phone? If you’re nodding along, you get it. Over time, work stops being something we do and starts being something we are. It’s a terrible plot twist you didn’t expect when you opened shop.
  2. The Pressure Cooker. While the pressure of needing to compete exists across all professions, the web industry is flooded with talented people which can make it feel like an uphill battle to carve out your own niche. That will often compel people to push themselves to be *the ***best. But that’s an unrealistic expectation that can often leave you feeling like you’re coming up short. But striving to be your best? Now that’s a goal worth chasing.
  3. Running on Empty. We’ve all done it… Skipping a meal to take a call. Trading an hour of sleep for an hour of email. Forgetting how our standing desk even works. But trading self-care for work isn’t just bad for our health; it tanks our productivity too. We’re most productive when we’re at our best, and to get there we have to take care of ourselves (physically and mentally).
  4. Lone Wolf Syndrome. Even if you work around other people, being “the boss” puts you on an island — but humans are pack animals. We thrive on connection and community — which is something we can lose moving from coworkers to subordinates. Isolation can be a symptom that’s hard to diagnose (because you can be both around people and feel alone at the same time) — but it can have devastating effects.

If you’re someone who knows me well, then I can just hear you screaming “LOOK WHO’S TALKING!”. Yep, I’m either guilty or have been guilty of every damn thing on this list. This isn’t just an email — it’s a confession of sorts.

But here’s the thing… Identifying the pitfalls is the first step in building guardrails around them.

Every time you decide to enforce a work boundary, take a genuine break, practice self-care or reach out to a friend, you’re not just avoiding burnout — you’re doing things to proactively make your business stronger and more resilient.

It’s harder to burn out when you’re keeping your batteries charged.

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