Right now, you're driving a race car, slowing down to take a really tight corner. Braking around the corner is pivotal to whether you finish the race or not. In that moment, it's important to gather your bearings, plan your next few turns and gradually increase speed. If you don't do that while in the corner you'll leave it on the wrong angle, your speed will be incorrect and you'll be annoyed you slowed down in the first place. At the next corner you'll ignore your instincts, go faster than you should - and most likely crash.
As an entrepreneur, I've often worked a ridiculous amount of hours driven by passion and commitment. Many times I have worked early into the morning, hunched over a dimly lit keyboard with heavy bags under my eyes. Rarely moving from my seat, pizza quickly becomes my go-to source of nutrition and drinking water seems like a distant past time (sound familiar?). As you can imagine, it's easy to get sick.
But this post isn't about the countless measures I, or other entrepreneurs can go to, to avoid the dreaded burnout - we all know what we need to do. It's about mentally (and positively) accepting when we have to slam on the brakes and take that corner. The aftermath if you will. Owning our health failures and giving our bodies the fuel it needs to recover.
When we find ourselves in that position of burnout, we should apply the brakes. In amongst doing what we need to do to get back to full strength, we can take advantage of the speed in which we have to drive around the corner. Working our minds instead of our bodies is a great reason to start gathering our bearings.
Here are some thoughts & tips on pacing:
Taking time to heal correctly is imperative - it's not efficient or logical to only heal halfway to then hit burnout again a week later
Remember that you didn't get to where you are now on hard work and long hours alone
While some ideas appear through diamond-pressure, most come when you least expect it (shower, relaxing, partying with friends)
Stress will slow you down - learn to avoid activating it
Value is not based on action - it's based on perception of action (So if you must impress by action, find efficient ways to do it)
Being healthy in mind and body increases efficiency
Helping others with no monetary gain (feedback, advice, design, coding etc) is a brilliant way to re-energize and/or break state
Taking some time out for yourself allows others in your network to step forward and grow
Embrace personal distractions (your minds way of saying 'something needs to change') and learn how to use them to refuel - It takes much less processing power to embrace
Listen to your body more - if you have a quick thought that you should drink some water, do it instantly (your work will be there when you get back)
When you hit a brick wall, ask/look for help
Network effects are real - if you are sociable/enjoyable to be around you will have more people willing to help during your burnout
If you are 100% effective before burnout, can you safely maximize your 'burnout healing' in the same way?
In that race track corner, I often think about how far I have come and what it has taken to get there. I notice the new people I now converse with, the new businesses I have connected to and the many opportunities that have been presented in front of me. I have the time to take note of the direction we're going with Kickfolio. This is the moment where an objective view of ones progress can bring a moment of clarity, focus and inspiration.
If we spend that time in that corner annoyed at the slow speed, we may miss the chance to digest, reflect and learn from our experiences in the fast lane.