Ok, be honest.
Do you feel like you’re burning the candle at both ends?
Does the thought of having to do one more thing send you in to a downward spiral?
Burnout is a real thing.
What is burnout?
Burnout has been called an occupational phenomenon “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:
- feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
- increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
- reduced professional efficacy . . .”*
And I know from experience as a mama and business owner that it can be VERY easy to reach the point of burnout.
Not too long ago I was running my law firm, building my online business, and taking care of my family – all at a pace that, quite honestly, was not sustainable. I would wake up at 4 a.m. and not go to bed until after 11:30 p.m. most nights. I was exhausted, cranky, and could not understand why it didn’t feel like I was accomplishing more. The pressure to perform was a huge weight on my shoulders and my answer was always to do more. It felt like I was “all business all the time” and I started to resent both businesses.
And then late one night my daughter looked at me and said: “Mom, get off your phone.” She was 2 and it was like a slap in the face. But her words forced me to take a step back and realize just how burnt out I was – and how much it was affecting my family.
Women are expected to be “supermom/superwoman.” We need to be the best at work and still manage to kiss all the booboos, help with homework, cook, clean, and the list goes on and on. But doing ALL the things will lead to burnout.
It is possible to be present as a mom AND have a business, but you have to know when to say NO!
Setting boundaries will help you avoid burnout.
Boundaries in every facet of your life are imperative. And you have to learn to set them if you want to avoid burnout!
Boundaries are like invisible bubbles – they’re limits that we communicate to others in both our personal and professional lives. And they’re unique for everyone. YOU have to determine what you are and aren’t comfortable with.
That means you have to accept that “NO!” is a complete sentence for my fellow people pleasers out there. And while it may feel uncomfortable or scary at first, saying “no” actually allows you to say “yes” to commitments that you really want to make.
We love our businesses, we want them to grow, thrive, and flourish just like our babies. BUT that means we have to set boundaries. End of story. Because without boundaries our productivity and profitability suffer. And so do our families.
I learned to set business hours for myself – and communicated them to my clients. I also started to consciously schedule 2 hours to unplug from technology with my family every week day. And I started to prioritize self-care. For me these things were crucial. And life-changing.
Read my self-care ideas for mama business owners here.
You may be at the point of burnout as you’re reading this. In fact, that’s probably why you’re reading it. You may be in search of some magical answer that is going to tell you how to keep all the balls in the air. The truth is, mama, it’s up to you.
While there is no such thing as a perfect work-life balance, most business owners throw themselves so wholeheartedly into their work that they fail to set any boundaries – or they don’t respect the ones they have set for themselves.
Respect your own boundaries!
Learning to set boundaries is only one part of the equation – you also have to stick to them.
You ARE allowed to have boundaries with your friends and family. But communication is imperative.
Communicating your boundaries also communicates that you have self-respect. The more you respect your boundaries, the more others will as well. Remember that habits are created through consistency.
Share what your non-negotiables are. And be prepared to share when you feel someone has crossed the line. Your friends and family aren’t mind readers and, chances are, the new boundaries you’re implementing are different than the old patterns they’re used to.
It can be intimidating, I get it! But boundaries are meaningless if you don’t follow through.
Let’s be real – in business we want to make sure our clients and customers are satisfied. So much so that we can end up bending over backwards to be accommodating and our boundaries can become nonexistent.
But if you aren’t at your best then you can’t perform at your best for your clients and customers. So, set the expectations with them from the beginning.
It’s always a great idea to have a “How I Work” conversation with clients before you start working with them. Let your clients know exactly what your boundaries are in terms of office hours, response time, refunds, etc. – and bonus points if you include them in your written contracts and policies, like your Client Agreement.
Having a conversation about boundaries reinforced with a written contract will make it easier for you to stick to those boundaries and avoid scope creep (aka those clients who just keep asking for more). It’s a win-win.
So now that you have an idea of where to start, I encourage you to sit down and set some boundaries. Put pen to paper and write them out. Hang them up in your home and office! And respect them!
At the end of the day, setting (and sticking to) boundaries will allow both your family and business to grow, thrive, and flourish.
*11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11)