Tag Archives | entrepreneurship

How to Beat Burnout Before it Beats You

Photo courtesy of The U.S. Army
There are several professions that tend to have high rates of burnout, and in my lifetime I’ve been deeply ensconced in two of them. For seven years I taught elementary school, and I can tell you that teachers everywhere are dropping like flies. That job is tough.  People in professions that involve helping others are highly likely to burn out because of the amount of emotional attachment that develops, causing an incredible amount of mental strain.

I’m now considered an entrepreneur, in that I’ve started up my own business and I’m my own boss. Studies show that entrepreneurs are also more likely than most “typical” professionals to experience burnout. This is due to the fact that there is no limit to how much success we can attain, and because of that, we have a hard time turning down opportunities.  Before we know it, we’re exhausting ourselves by taking on more projects than we can reasonably handle.

If you’re making your living in a job that has the potential to evoke excessive amounts of stress, involves a high level of responsibility, or demands long hours, be proactive about avoiding burnout. If you’ve started to feel the first twinges of distress surrounding work, use the following list as a guide to avoid causing a major professional setback.

  • Pin point the source of any discontent and fix it. It’s not the job itself that will bring you down, but its interference with the things you love to do most – like spending time with family, working out, or getting a good night’s sleep every night. What do you wish you had time for?

  • Set boundaries for those above events to ensure that they will always come before work in order to refresh your energy and motivation.

  • Make sure you’re keeping it interesting! Even as an entrepreneur, if your projects all start to look the same, you’ll get bored fast. Pick and choose a variety of assignments, or simply make a change to your daily routine.

  • Pace yourself for the long haul and don’t expect miracles.
  • Take vacations! If you have a corporate job, USE your paid days off – don’t just bank them. If you’re self-employed, start setting things up so that your business can remain successful even when you take a few days off.

It’s extremely important to be able to recognize the early symptoms of burnout so that you can attain the level of success that you’re reaching for while remaining in good physical and mental health. Once burnout occurs, it can spell disaster and is quite difficult to reverse. Always keep that fire extinguisher nearby and at the ready, because if you don’t beat burnout first, it can most certainly beat you.

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Get Off the Sidelines and into the Game of Life

Photo courtesy of Rafael Amado Deras

For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt this certain…stirring inside of me, urging me to think outside the box. I realized that I was destined to look for opportunities in unlikely places, and that I am just not the type of person who can be satisfied living life as a spectator. And so, eventually, I gave up my season tickets to the game of life and jumped on the field myself, ready to catch all of the solid opportunities that flew my way. It took me a little bit of practice to learn the difference between a homerun and a foul ball, but I think I finally have a handle on when to make the catch, and when to let it go.

Those who take action in life inevitebly end up ahead.  Sure, we may be called selfish, single-minded and dreamers, but the truth of the matter is, failure to take advantage of a good opportunity when it arises is the worst decision possible and will only leave you in the same rut for the rest of your life. Being ready to execute quickly while simultaneously weighing out the risks is a sign of someone who is destined to succeed.

The important thing to remember when presented with a potential new project is that not every opportunity is a good one.  Learning how and when to say no is an invaluable skill that will ensure that your successful ventures outweigh your failed attempts. This is not to say that you will never make some bad choices, or some less-than-ideal investments. As Edward Phelps said, “The man who makes no mistakes usually does not make anything at all.” I don’t know about you, but I would rather make some mistakes on my way to success than never making anything at all.

When an opportunity knocks, make sure that it fits in comfortably with your personal values and morals. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Figure out your bottom line and know what you feel comfortable with. Be sure that the project aligns with your mission and the market image you wish to portray. An entrepreneur without a mission statement will ultimately lead his business off-track. Only say “yes” to opportunities that will create beneficial partnerships and reinforce your brand’s identity. And, most importantly, if you don’t find yourself presented with enough opportunitites to find success, step outside of that cardboard box, crumple it up, and make your own.

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What’s in a logo?

Photo courtesy of Roadside Pictures

How important is a logo?

A few weeks ago, I decided to renew my membership at my local gym. To my surprise, (and later, my disappointment) the gym had completely changed during the months I’d been away, beginning with a bold new logo that was stretched out across the front of the building. I soon learned that the gym had been acquired by a larger company that was going about making several changes to ‘improve’ the quality of the fitness studio, and the new logo was the first of many steps in making those changes.

But let’s backtrack a little. I first joined the gym a couple of years ago. When I signed up, I was instantly sold on the relaxed, friendly vibe I felt as I passed through its doors. In my experience, gyms tend to be too clinical, catering more toward the fitness freaks and bodybuilder types that bring in the bulk of the revenue. But this was a different place. It seemed to be I could be sitting at a rowing machine next to a 75-year-old gent as much as, say, a lean twenty-something with perfect abs. And that was what originally drew me in. It was a place where everybody felt welcome. It was more about improving health in a relaxed, encouraging way that simply made you feel good. And what more than that do you need? Apparently a lot, according to the new owners of the club.

Staring at the new bold sign on the front of the building, I could tell that my once warm and inviting gym was gone. The logo, built in large red and black letters, was sheer-edged and pumped up (like the kind of bodybuilder they want you to be, apparently). It looked like the kind of blocky font you find on almost every bodybuilding supplement.

Unfortunately for me, the changes didn’t end with the logo. Despite already being a pretty slick facility, the new owners promised a complete refurbishment of the building over six months, with upgrades to machines, weights and other equipment. After renewing my membership, I also learned of a more immediate change: tie-in fitness merchandise. From apparel to bodybuilding supplements, advertisements were now being blasted through the gym’s overpowering sound system while you work out. It can certainly be argued that these are all good things in terms of business expansion (and other gym goers may even embrace these changes), but in implementing them, the spirit of my old gym had been killed.

I’m sad to see my friendly gym replaced with a cold, clinical place much like thousands of other fitness studios on the planet. But I must give kudos to the company for their new logo, and here’s why: before I’d even entered the building the logo told me everything I needed to know about the new direction they were taking, with a single glance. Okay, so it turned out to be a negative association for me, but that doesn’t change the fact that the logo was perfectly clear in what it was selling. Not every business can claim to do the same.

Building your brand from the logo up is a smart way to inform people of exactly what it is you want to sell them. If you’re about to set out on a new creative venture, be mindful of your intended target when designing your logo, and it should get you a long way.

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