The Upside

How to Create Boundaries to Avoid Burnout

Erin Halper

Even Ariana Huffington experiences burnout. And she’s not alone. “Millions of us are living under the collective delusion that we need to burn out in order to succeed,” Ariana notes.

What Is Burnout?

So, let’s start by defining this condition. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. Sound familiar?

The Power of Boundaries

When I started The Upside in 2017, I set specific parameters to avoid burnout
 
1. I decided not to seek outside capital. I knew that once I had outside investors, I also had someone to report to and someone I needed to be accountable to. I knew I didn’t have the “pressure tolerance” for this type of arrangement, so I crafted a business model that self-funded our daily operations. I created a marathon strategy and avoided the race.
 
2. At around 5pm, I’m done with work. I’m not on my phone or computer. Instead I’m with my kids and having a home-cooked dinner with my family. I may not be quite as successful as someone who works until 9pm every night, but that’s where I draw my boundaries. I didn’t get into running my own business to have no time for my family and myself–rather, the opposite! And I especially don’t want my kids growing up and looking back at our family time, remembering me being glued to my phone all the time.
 
Of course these parameters are limiting–that’s the point–but they work.
 
Here’s why: I always knew and embraced the core reasons why I started my business in the first place. It was to help people, change the way working works in America, grow a movement of B2B entrepreneurs and to earn a nice income doing it. My goal was never to build a 9-figure startup and then sell to the highest bidder (although wouldn’t that be nice?).

Get Real Women’s Tips on Avoiding Burnout

I’m proud to have been featured in this CNBC video on avoiding burnout. Watch here to hear Ariana Huffington, myself, and other women founders share our unique strategies on breaking free from burnout for good.

Are You Experiencing Burnout?

The Mayo Clinic suggests you ask yourself these key questions to help determine if you have burnout symptoms.
 
  • Have you become cynical or critical at work?
  • Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started?
  • Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
  • Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
  • Do you find it hard to concentrate?
  • Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
  • Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
  • Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
  • Have your sleep habits changed?
  • Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, stomach or bowel problems, or other physical complaints?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be experiencing burnout.

You’re Not Alone

53% of Americans say work leaves them feeling overtired and overwhelmed. Does this sound like you? Perhaps you feel like to get your business off the ground, you have to be constantly available, constantly ‘on’, working evenings and weekends, never turning your phone off, delaying sleep and self-care in favor of just one more…(email, website update, client call, you name it).
 
The truth: Burnout doesn’t have to be a constant part of life, even for a hardworking professional or entrepreneur. It all comes down to defining your work/life goals and setting boundaries around what you are and are not willing to do for your work.

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