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Avoid Burnout With Our Anti-Burnout Business Plan

Wandering Aimfully Through Building Habits

Avoid Burnout With Our Anti-Burnout Business Plan

No one can guarantee you won't burnout, but we can help you put solid foundations in place starting today.
Jason ZookJason Zook Jason ZookJason Zook

Written by

Jason Zook

As much as we’d like to promise you’ll never burn out again just by reading this article, that simply wouldn’t be true and isn’t something anyone can guarantee you.

What we can guarantee you, however, is that this article will help you put anti-burnout guardrails in place and assist you in the creation of a solid foundation for your business that is best FOR YOU and YOUR specific situation.

We want to share with you how we’ve learned to avoid burnout in our two businesses (Teachery + WAIM).

The goal of this article is to help you take actionable steps to avoid that dreaded moment when everything feels like too much and you have to take an extended break from your biz.

We’ve divided this article into four parts:

🤔 Part 1: Setting realistic expectations (and enough-based goals)

In this part, you get to define your enough number (and MMM number if you don’t know it). We’ll explain below what both “enough” and “MMM” numbers mean. We also recommend avoiding listening to the overnight success advice and turning your months-long timelines into years-long timelines. We believe that patience is an important part of the anti-burnout process. Embrace the idea that slow-and-steady is better than fast-and-leading-to-a-mental-breakdown.

💼 Part 2: Choosing the right business model FOR YOU

In part two, we identify the business model that’s right for YOU (and not just one you followed because of someone else’s story). We also start acknowledging that you will have to eat a few “shit sandwiches” (more on this later). We’ll share why using an experimenter’s mindset is helpful for weathering the inevitable tough moments and we want you to give yourself permission to pivot to a different business model if things aren’t working.

🙅‍♂️ Part 3: Setting boundaries (and how you can implement these steps in day-to-day business and life)

In the 3rd part of this article, we tackle setting your daily work hour boundaries. We talk about drawing your lines in the sand (days you don’t do calls, your response times, how to contact you, etc) and creating an inspiring and motivating workspace tailored for the way YOU work. In doing this, you get to define how you best work and build good habits for finding “flow.” Additionally, we encourage you to put intentional breaks on your calendar like daily walks, days off [GASP!], content breaks, etc.

🔥 Part 4: Acknowledging burnout WHEN burnout happens and putting up guardrails to help you avoid burning out again

In this final part, we acknowledge that you will burn out (or burn out again). We hope you will come to accept that WE ALL EXPERIENCE BURNOUT ❤️. We’ll finish up by talking about building your burnout savings, not allowing burnout to affect your self-worth, and defining what you need if you’re currently burned out.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the first part…


Part 1: Setting realistic expectations and enough-based goals to avoid burnout

The first key step to avoiding burnout starts with goal-setting. You may already be aware of why goal-setting is important but if you’ve run into burnout many times, it might be time to switch up your goal-setting approach.

Why goal setting matters to avoid burnout in your business

1️⃣ Not setting any goals can keep you constantly striving for more. If you don’t set any goals at all, your brain will likely fill in the gap with its familiar fallback setting: MORE. Your mind will tell you to do more, grow more, hire more, create more, and work more, without ever really asking itself what all that more is in the pursuit of. That’s a recipe for burnout, please ask us how we know 👩🏻‍🦰👨🏻‍🦲😬.

When goal-setting doesn't happen

When we don’t set goals our eyes are bigger than we’re capable of handling.

2️⃣ Huge goals with short timelines are a recipe for disaster. If you do happen to set goals, but the scale is too big in too rushed of a timeline (i.e. every “how to make $100,000* in 30 days” YouTube headline!), that is ALSO a recipe for burnout.

🙋 *Please raise your hand if you’ve bought into these lofty promises only to realize it’s A) completely unrealistic and B) totally unsustainable for YOUR life.

So what’s the antidote we want to share and how can goal-setting help you avoid burnout?

Our recommended burnout antidotes

  1. Set realistic expectations for yourself and define your goals based on an “enough” mindset. This will help you know what it is exactly you’re working toward, and what you ARE and AREN’T willing to sacrifice in order to achieve it.
  2. Creating a longer, more realistic timeframe to hit your (enough) goals is THE most important way you can avoid burning out. But first, you have to establish your enough goals so you know what the heck you are even striving for!

Creating a realistic timeframe to hit your (enough) goals is THE most important way you can avoid burning out with your business.

Setting “enough goals.”

What we mean by “enough goals” are goals that begin with you asking yourself this question:

What does ENOUGH look like in my life? (Enough money, enough subscribers, enough followers, enough time, etc.)

Your enough goals will be different from anyone else’s, but that’s a good thing! Not everyone needs to run a $100k/year business, or needs to do 5/6-figure launches, or needs to build a team, etc. Instead, it’s about defining what would be enough for YOU, individually, to live a good and satisfying life. That’s why all those folks promising you wild success in short amount of time are only going to lead you to burning out, because they’re likely pointing you in a direction toward a goal that’s supposed to be one-size-fits-all, not one that’s tailor-made FOR YOU.

An enough number for your business is an amount of money generated by your business every month/year that would accomplish all your personal goals, but that wouldn’t require you to burn out trying to achieve it.

Defining your Monthly Minimum Magic (MMM) number

But how do you begin to identify your enough number? A good place to start is by defining what we call your Monthly Minimum Magic (MMM) number. This number is your baseline expenses—just the things you absolutely need for each month. It’s the amount of money you need your business to make in order to basically break even. If you’ve never set an MMM number, we would highly recommend doing it right now. Your MMM number should include:

  • Bare bones living expenses +
  • Minimum payments on any debts +
  • Lowest possible amount of business expenses +
  • A peace of mind cushion
  • (As an example, let’s say your MMM number equals $3,500 per month)

Think of your MMM number as the LEAST amount of money you could possibly live on each month, without feeling like you have to eat Ramen noodles at every meal!

Then, with your MMM number known, tack on (realistic) extra things that would bring you to that level of feeling really satisfied and secure in your life. It could be:

  • Additional savings
  • Wealth redistribution + donation to causes you care about
  • A complete debt payoff plan
  • Future down payment for a home
  • Nice-to-haves that would improve your overall wellbeing
  • Anything else you define for YOUR life!
  • (As a follow-up example, let’s say these additional items equal $4,000 per month, your total enough number would be $7,500 per month)

Your MMM number + realistic extras = YOUR enough number

What you’ll find (we’ve seen this over and over again since we’ve been talking about and teaching folks to define enough) is that your specific enough number is less than you may think, and it’s probably also less than that arbitrary number you’ve been striving for in the past! Your previous self has been following someone else’s number, not defining what amount of money would be considered enough for YOU.

Setting realistic expectations for YOUR timeline

Now that you know what number you’re aiming for, we can figure out how long it’s going to take to achieve that specific (for you!) goal.

The online business world is far too saturated with messages about “building your business overnight” and “hitting $10k months in just a few weeks” and “creating a 6-figure business by following a few simple steps.” To be 100% honest with you, all of that messaging is garbage #sorrynotsorry.

Taking out the business trash

What we should all do with “build your biz overnight” promises.

The truth is, to succeed with your online business, it is going to take WAYYYYYY more time than you probably hope/want. Coming to terms with this fact should actually feel empowering because you can take the pressure off yourself and your business a bit. If you simply embrace and understand that you’re in this for the long haul, you can avoid the trappings of working 12+ hour days, weekends, and still feeling like you’re not achieving your goals at the pace you’re supposed to.

Instead of thinking your business has to reach some “finish line” in the next 3-6 months, what if you planned for it to take 3-6 years?

Instead of seeing a small, finite, jam-packed schedule ahead of you (that will cause you to burn out), what if you zoomed the lens out a bit and gave yourself a realistic timeline that feels spacious instead of angst-filled? If you did that, you may find yourself less focused on the short-term, immediate result and more focused on making sure the journey feels good along the way. (You can see how extending your timeline helps stave off burnout.)

Prioritizing patience helps avoid burnout

Patience and business go hand-in-hand, it’s just that no one will try to sell you an online course about being more patient because no one would buy that course. However, and we saw this ourselves when we built Wandering Aimfully, planning ahead to prioritize patience in your business approach will get you through the inevitable tough patches.

👉 Patience will help you overcome the revenue dips and lackluster launches.

👉 Patience will reassure you when the social media algorithms change.

👉 Patience will calm your brain when a successful marketing effort stops working or when a sales funnel that was working goes kaput.

The ultimate irony of anyone telling you that you can succeed overnight, in the next 30 days, etc, is that you are likely in pursuit of EVENTUALLY having a calm and profitable business. Yet, the stress and work you’d have to put in (that 99.9% of the time won’t actually get you there) to see results on this hyper-speed timeline will take your life and stress levels in the opposite direction of calm and profitable.

That’s why a 3-6 year plan to reach your enough number is the crucial first step in our anti-burnout business plan. It’s time to stop buying into the idea that you can fast-track success just because someone sells you on a new way to skip all the hard work. Hard work is where success comes from, but with proper (enough) goal-setting, timeline planning, and patience, building your business doesn’t have to be an arduous, frustrating process.

We’re happy to be riding the (slower) anti-burnout business train 🚂 and we’d love for you to join us!

⚡️ PART 1 RECAP ⚡️

Here’s what Part 1️⃣ of building an anti-burnout business takes:

  • Define your enough number (and MMM number if you don’t know it)
  • Stop listening to the overnight success advice
  • Zoom the lens out and turn your months-long timelines into years-long timelines
  • See patience as an important part of the anti-burnout process
  • Embrace the idea that slow-and-steady is better than fast-and-leading-to-a-mental-breakdown

 


Part 2: Choosing the right business model to avoid burnout

Building a business of ease and freedom starts with making sure your foundation actually lends itself to… ease and freedom!

No business model is perfect and different business models bring different types of stressors.

If your business is built on a foundation that requires you to stay on an endless content treadmill (like a YouTube sponsorship model, for example) when producing content is especially taxing for you, that’s a recipe for burnout. Or maybe your business model requires you to work 1-and-1 with clients when you don’t do well with other people’s expectations and schedules; that’s also going to lead you to burnout.

Identifying a business model that’s right for YOU!

You have to find a revenue-generating business model that aligns with what you enjoy doing most AND what you’re best at.

A lot of people choose a business model they think will make them successful (because, maybe someone on YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, or in your email inbox convinced you there was an “easy road to success”). The truth is, no business model is perfect and different business models bring different types of stressors.

Want to run a digital product business?

Awesome! It’s a very low-barrier-to-entry business model and if you’re a creative person with lots of ideas, this model gives you the freedom to express those ideas. However, you will have to navigate some technology to create and deliver your digital product. Then, as time goes on, you’ll probably need to update that product with new info. Also, other folks may want you to believe that digital products sell passively, but while that CAN happen, the reality is that you will likely find yourself constatntly writing sales emails, sales copy, and tweaking your sales strategy to bring in consistent sales.

What about a membership or paid community?

The recurring revenue is great with a membership or paid community, and if you love teaching or helping people in scalable way, this model can be great. But the reality is that you will need to show up for your customers on a recurring basis for them to continue to pay you. And, with recurring payments comes the admin work of dealing with failed payments and cancelations.

📌 Related reading: We have an in-depth article if you want to know EVERYTHING we’ve learned about running a paid membership community with our WAIM Unlimited program.)

Those are just two options. There are many other business types and models to explore. The key for you is to understand which one is right for your situation AND to make sure you’re up for all the challenges that any business model will bring (but maybe pick the one with the least challenges to avoid burnout 😘😘).

Which flavor of “shit sandwich” do you want to eat?

Elizabeth Gilbert talks about this idea of a “shit sandwich” in her book, Big Magic. What she means by that phrase is: there are going to be parts of any creative process that aren’t particularly enjoyable but that are worth choosing anyway. Your job is to decide which flavor of “shit sandwich” you’re willing to eat aka which sucky parts you’re willing to move through.

The truth is, when it comes to running a business, there are going to be crappy parts that take away from the joyful and awesome stuff. Find the business model or revenue strategy that feels worth it to you, even when you take into consideration the parts that are less than ideal.

When goal-setting doesn't happen

An anti-burnout business model means you’re trying to maximize spending time and energy on the good stuff you LOVE and are passionate about. But, you’re also smart enough to acknowledge there will be hard problems to solve and you’re choosing a specific business model because the positives outweigh the negatives.

What if you don’t know which “shit sandwich” you’re willing to eat yet??

You won’t know which “shit sandwich” you are willing to eat until you actually try different business models. This isn’t a bad thing. Remember, thankfully it’s a metaphorical sandwich 😆😂.

Sometimes the only way to discover these options aren’t right for you is to experience the burnout that comes with them, which will ultimately allow you to course-correct.

We said it before and we’ll say it again: You WILL probably burnout at some point—and sometimes that’s even the only way to know what shit sandwich ISN’T worth it—but the key is trying to have your burnout be as painless as possible and not like a volcanic eruption.

Use an experimenter’s mindset! 👩‍🔬👨‍🔬

We’ve said this for years and it’s one of the best mindset shifts we ever made in online business. It IS emotional when you’re creating your own business. You DO feel some attachment to it and it can hurt when things don’t go to plan. But… If you can always think of yourself as a scientist, constantly experimenting your way through product building, content creation, marketing, sales, customer support, etc then it becomes easier to deal with things when they go wrong.

You likely won’t be able to read this article and magically think your way to the business model that’s right for you. Instead, you’ll have to try a few versions of something, fail at a few things, and experiment through different ideas until you feel what’s right. The important part is to check in with yourself at each step of the way to see if what you’re doing is sustainable long-term.

Run your business like a dog scientist

You, as an [experimenting] business person.

When (not if, sorry) something goes wrong in your business, instead of feeling like your self-worth got punched in its gut, you can simply see it as a failed experiment: “Well, that didn’t go to plan, and it sucks, but here’s what I learned and now I’m going to do XYZ to avoid having that happen again.”

Everything… and we mean EVERYTHING is an experiment in online business. The more you can reframe everything that way, the easier the hits are to take when they come your way.

Give yourself permission to pivot to avoid burnout

And don’t be afraid to pivot! Maybe you’re running a digital product business and it’s not as passive as you’d hoped. Or maybe you’re thinking of creating a membership to shift to more recurring income? No matter where you are, take it from two people who completely blew up their businesses in 2018 and essentially started from square one. Success won’t happen overnight, but you absolutely can completely change things up and create an anti-burnout business 💪🙅🔥.

⚡️ PART 2 RECAP ⚡️

Here’s what Part 2️⃣ of building an anti-burnout business takes:

  • Identifying a business model that’s right for YOU (and not just one you followed because of someone else’s story)
  • Acknowledging that you will have to eat a few “shit sandwiches”
  • Using an experimenter’s mindset to better weather the inevitable tough moments
  • Giving yourself permission to pivot to a different business model if things aren’t working

 


Part 3: Let’s talk about how BOUNDARIES help avoid business burnout

We’ve talked about creating a foundation that is sustainable for you, in this next part, we’re going to focus on your day-to-day actions and how those actions can keep you from over-extending yourself.

One of the quickest ways to ride the bullet train to Burnout Town is by not having firm boundaries. When it comes to the amount of hours you work each day and what things take priority on your to-do list, it’s important to remember (if you work for yourself) that YOU are your own boss!

You make the schedule, you set the priorities each day/week/month, so it’s within your power to make sure you’re not burning the candle at both ends.

Working from home GIF

⏰ The importantance of work hour boundaries

Many years ago when Caroline was working with clients doing brand design, she found herself feeling like there were never enough hours in the day and she was always behind schedule. To solve this problem, we sat down in front of her calendar and started by asking the question, “how many hours do you WANT to work?” After some chatting, it was decided that 5 hours of dedicated client work per day was most realistic, and the hours of 10am – 4pm (with an hour break for lunch) were her most productive. From that moment forward, a boundary was put in place for those specific work hours. She started building her client proposals based on these time blocks available on her calendar. And guess what happened? Almost immediately she felt more productive and in control, as she knew when she needed to get into work mode, and then she had a stopping time each day so she wouldn’t overwork herself.

When was the last time you SET your working hour boundaries?

You may have started your business to escape the 9am-5pm schedule, but it IS helpful to have set working hours based on your lifestyle and when you want to fit work into it.

Keep in mind you can also adapt this idea for how you work best. Maybe it’s not the same exact hours each day. Maybe you need something more flexible and adaptable to your energy. The most important part is that you ask yourself the question and set the intention NOT to overwork.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or you’re just getting started with your biz, now would be the perfect time to sit down and answer these two questions:

Once you have those answers, put that schedule on your calendar the next few weeks and try it out!

🙅‍♀️🙅🙅‍♂️ What are your “lines in the sand” when it comes to work?

To set a “line in the sand” simply means to establish a boundary you’re not willing to cross.

To set a “line in the sand” simply means to establish a boundary you’re not willing to cross. It’s helpful to take some time and ask yourself, “what rules do I want to establish about the way I conduct my business?” These rules can be instrumental in not engaging in behaviors that drain you or lead you to exhaustion.

For example, quite awhile ago, I (Jason 👋) found myself on phone calls, interviews, or having online meetings on Mondays and Fridays. I DREADED THEM. Monday calls killed my beginning of the week momentum and Friday calls interrupted my end-of-week push to tie up loose ends and transition calmly into the weekend. Then, I had a moment of realization: Why am I doing this to myself!?? There’s no rule that says I have to take calls on Mondays or Fridays, so why the heck am I doing that? Pretty soon after that moment, I put a boundary in place to NOT do calls on Mondays or Fridays. If someone reached out and only had those days available, I would kindly say I don’t schedule calls on those two days but am happy to chat Tues-Thurs. There hasn’t been a single time in nearly a decade when I’ve had to break this boundary.

If you work with clients (or have customers of a digital product), one of the lines in the sand you absolutely must draw is your expected response times.

Those of you with clients have most definitely run into the late night email/text/DM where a client has an “urgent” request. But, just because something is urgent for them does NOT mean it has to be urgent for YOU. The way we learned to get around this issue is to put a boundary in place early on where you’re 100% honest about your response time. Two things we’ve done that work really well:

  1. Tell your clients/customers the turnaround response time they should expect. (I usually say to expect a response within 48 hours, even though I typically reply in the first 24 hours.)
  2. Tell your clients/customers your working hours, but make sure they know that’s their time to contact you if they need you. (“I work between 11am – 4pm each day, and am juggling a few clients, but I try to get back to everyone in our agreed upon turnaround time.”)

Just because something is urgent for your client or customer does NOT mean it has to be urgent for YOU.

One more line in the sand we think is super helpful for running an anti-burnout business is letting people know the appropriate ways they can get in touch with you.

Just because a client asks for your phone number doesn’t mean you need answer their calls or texts! If you want people to communicate with you via email, make it VERY clear what you want them to send to you in email requests (is it screenshots? Loom videos? Etc). Maybe you don’t love email and you want to create a dedicated support inbox using a service like HelpScout or even something simple like a Google Form folks can fill out. And, if you want to offer a support chat/messenger directly on your website (or in your online course), just make sure you’re setting the boundaries for when folks can expect a reply (be VERY clear it’s not “live” support).

All of these boundaries serve to set the expectation for other people about how they can engage with your business in a way that doesn’t feel overly taxing for you. That is one key to being able to continue your work long-term.

Where do you work and how do you work?

We talked a bit about time boundaries, but now let’s talk about physical boundaries.

An often overlooked part of running a business that doesn’t burn you out is having a dedicated workspace that’s separate from your life. Trust us, we’ve tried working from the couch or the dining room table MANY TIMES, but the result of this was that work too easily can bleed over into your life, consuming much of your free time to rest and recharge. Creating a separation will lead you to actually enforce those work hours we spoke about and then when you’re away from your work space, your brain will actually be able to wind down.

Even if you live in a small space, consider a spot for a tiny desk. And, regardless of the size of the desk you can fit in your home, MAKE IT FUN! The more you can enjoy the physical area you sit or stand in to crank out some work, the more restorative and energized your work time will be.

Minimal Desk Setup

That covers where you work, but what about HOW you work?

It’s key to experiment with different approaches to productivity until you land on something that allows you to get in that “flow” zone.

👨🏻‍🦲 For Jason: First thing I want to do is toss on a synthwave ⚡️ or lofi 🎧 playlist. From there, I need to close out of all ancillary applications on my computer and just have the ONE (or two) apps open for whatever task I’m working on. And how do I know what I’m working on? My Google Calendar is chalk-full of time blocks (30, 60, 90 minutes) and I don’t stray from the task at hand.

Time Blocking with Google Calendar

👩🏻‍🦰 For Caroline: First and foremost I need to know what tasks I intend to complete any given week (I keep track of that with my favorite app Notion.) Then I’ll choose an order for those tasks each day based on where my energy is at. I use the Pomofocus.io app to split up work blocks into pomodoro increments and then I put on a playlist that matched my mood and I go to town. The MOST important part of my work day, though, is that I take intentional breaks—which is our next big tip.

Free Pomofocus App

Are you taking intentional breaks? You should be!

If you’re anything like us, your work can spill over into weekends and holidays, leaving you constantly saying, “I didn’t even know it was Labor Day!?” We’ve found that taking intentional breaks from our work can be super impactful in recharging our batteries, even in small increments.

🚶‍♀️🚶 Daily walks help us clear our minds

A small daily break that has always been positively impactful for us is taking a 15-30 minute walk. Whether we end up at a coffee shop, are just circling the block, or are trekking into nature a little bit, a daily walk is a good time to step away from technology and rest our eyes and minds. You might find it hard to carve out this time, but pick something that works well with your schedule! Define this time, put it on your calendar, and be intentional about making it a habit.

The Zooks daily walk

We don’t actually take daily walks in slow motion 😅😅

🏭😴 Content breaks keep us off the hamster wheel of creation

We also take breaks with our content schedule. We intentionally pause our weekly email newsletter every summer so we can recharge those writing batteries and so our readers have the chance to get excited about our content again. We take the occasional month or even months-long break from our What is it all for? podcast too just to give ourselves time and space to feel refreshed. These intentional content breaks are absolutely crucial for staying engaged with our work, but it’s also helpful for keeping your audience on their toes and not letting that connection get stale.

Alrighty, that’ll do it for part three! Let’s get your action steps…

⚡️ PART 3 RECAP ⚡️

Here’s what Part 3️⃣ of building an anti-burnout business takes:

  • Set your daily work hour boundaries
  • Draw your lines in the sand (days you don’t do calls, your response times, how to contact you, etc)
  • Create an inspiring and motivating workspace
  • Define how you best work and build good habits for finding “flow”
  • Put intentional breaks on your calendar (daily walks, days off, content breaks, etc)

 


Part 4: Accepting that you unfortunately WILL burnout

In this final section, rather than give you one more tip for avoiding burnout, we thought it would be far more practical to talk about the burnout-elephant in the room, which is this: despite following the tips we outlined, you WILL likely burn out anyway. 🙈🙈

How do we know you are going to burnout?

Because the burnout threshold is different for everyone, and human instinct is to push the limit until you know what the limit actually is. We call this the “hand on the stove” moment, or that moment of pain you have to experience yourself before you know just how badly you want to avoid it in the future.

We want to offer you some tips for when burnout happens. How to soften the blow, how to be kind to yourself, and how to apply that lesson to the future.

Burnout happens to everyone 😰

Ripping the bandaid right off, let’s just be 100% truthful and honest: Burnout may not be “normal” (meaning working ourselves into the ground is not healthy) but it is COMMON. It happens to so many entrepreneurs—including us! If you find yourself hitting a wall with your work, it’s important to know there’s nothing wrong with you. It’s a predictable part of the entrepreneurial journey.

Sometimes we hit burnout because we put too much on our plates, or life overwhelms us, or we bite off more than we can (business) chew, or we just run into a string of bad luck.

This is fine GIF

Even though it’s common, that still doesn’t mean it’s fun, though! It sucks, and it’s hard to get through. But, on the bright side, the burnout experience can often be a solid life/business lesson that will make us stronger and help us avoid bigger problems in the future.

Having this mindset of acceptance towards burnout when it comes can help you bounce back with confidence (in time) and avoid any kind of shame or guilt you may experience when it arises.

Having a mindset of acceptance toward burnout can help you bounce back with confidence and avoid any shame or guilt you might experience.

What are you going to do when you burnout?

Once you accept burning out is a part of the journey, the question becomes how are you going to handle it when it arises?

Whether you’re currently experiencing burnout, are on the cusp of burning out, or are in a good place and just want to know how you should handle it in the future, the best piece of advice we can give you is this: give yourself TIME to recover from burnout ⏳⏳⏳.

As much as we’d love to tell you there’s a simple 3-step process to overcoming burnout, what we’ve learned over the years (and many burnouts) is that TIME is the only healer. Taking a break, stepping aside, completely removing yourself from the work that led you to burnout is the answer. And while that’s easy to type out in a sentence, we know from lots of experience how challenging that is!

Those are all great questions and they all come with answers that are different for everyone. We can’t guarantee our advice will be perfect, but we can tell you what’s worked for us:

💸 How do you make money when you’re burned out?

It could be dipping into your savings. It’s why you save, after all—for one of those rainy days (and with burnout, there’s a 100% chance of [metaphorical] rain on the forecast). If you don’t have savings, it boils down to figuring out what you can do for money that can sustain you. Is it selling stuff around your house? Is it asking a friend to hire you for low-pressure contract work? Is it moving back home to build back up with less overhead? All of these options are on the table and none should be ignored.

🎯 How do you work toward your goals when you’re burned out?

Honestly… your goals get put on hold when you’re burned out. There’s NO sense in trying to continue to push forward or make progress, you must rest and you must be okay with the fact that the pause button is your only button. In these situations, it’s important to remember you’re taking one step back to ultimately take two steps forward. In that regard, you ARE still working toward your goals, you’re just making sure you’re in a healthy, energized head space in order to go after what you want.

🤗 How do you separate your self-worth from negative burnout feelings?

This one is sooooo difficult because when you work for yourself it’s incredibly hard to separate your work from your worth. The best advice we can give you is to repeatedly remind yourself that your work is not tied to your identity. Your work is a set of experiments in a scientific lab of sorts. As soon as you leave that lab (your work), you are your own person with a separate identity. What happens in Vegas the lab stays in the lab!

It’s really hard to hear, but again, TIME is the only answer to overcoming burnout.

Allow yourself a break, and do whatever you must to survive and get by in the meantime, because the harder you push against burnout, the longer it will take to overcome (and the more damage you may be doing in the process.)

What guardrails are you putting in place for yourself?

Okay, let’s say you’ve burned out, you’ve given yourself time to recover, and you’re feeling good again… now how the heck do you avoid burning out again!??

Well first, read the previous parts of this article 😘. The second thing to learn from your last bout of burnout is to understand what may have gotten you there. Then, put up some strong guardrails to help you avoid falling off the burnout cliff in the future.

Only you are going to know what guardrails are most important for you, and it’s important you don’t ignore the mistakes of your past.

Only you are going to know what guardrails are most important for you, and it’s important you don’t ignore the mistakes of your past. We’ve certainly experienced burnout multiple times for the same reasons, and it’s not like you’re going to fix things perfectly after burnout, but you should absolutely try!

How to avoid the “shiny new” brand of burnout? (Hello, TikTok, etc.)

The last part of avoiding burnout is being able to recognize when you’re pouring your energy into a business tactic that isn’t sustainable.

This is especially dangerous when a shiny new opportunity comes along and you feel pressure to a) take advantage of a marketing channel that can get you disproportionately high organic reach or b) hop on the bandwagon because you see other business owners doing it.

Shiny object SQUIRREL

It’s easy to get caught up in trends, especially when your previous efforts may not have worked well, and then something new clicks and you start to see a lot of momentum. You want to ride that bullet train toward your goals and hold on for dear life! But, if you go too hard and invest too much time and energy in something new, all your foundational things can easily get left behind (goals, processes, boundaries, healthy habits, basic biz stuff, etc).

We’ve been there: The new thing emerges, you start to feel a positive change in your business, and you want to do everything in your power to grab ahold of that bucking bronco and soak up as much growth as you possibly can. However, if something new is taking up all your precious resources, something is going to have to give in its place. That’s when you typically end up burning out, even if you’re generating the most revenue, the most audience growth, and the most notoriety you’ve ever had.

We DO want you to notice the experiments that are working in your business!

We DO want you to enjoy the success those things bring! But, we also want you to remember you are trying to build an Anti-Burnout Business and to have something that sustains you for the long-term, not just a flash in the pan.

When it comes to shiny new burnout, just keep in mind your processes and your goals. You may need to reconfigure both of those things and you may need to reprioritize what really matters, but that’s the key: Embrace the new awesome thing, but be intentional with how all of that time and effort fits into your existing day-to-day.

⚡️ PART 4 RECAP ⚡️

Here’s what Part 4️⃣ of building an anti-burnout business takes:

  • Acknowledge that you will burnout (or burnout again)
  • Accept that WE ALL EXPERIENCE BURNOUT ❤️
  • Start building your burnout savings now (and/or create a plan)
  • Decide what guardrails you need if you’re currently burned out
  • Be prepared for the new shiny object burnout

 


In Conclusion, Your 19-Step Plan to Avoid Burnout

Here are all nineteen tips we shared in this article to help you avoid burnout in the future and build an Anti-Burnout Business 🙅🔥:

1. Define your enough number (and MMM number if you don’t know it)

2. Stop listening to the overnight success advice

3. Zoom the lens out and turn your months-long timelines into years-long timelines

4. See patience as an important part of the anti-burnout process

5. Embrace the idea that slow-and-steady is better than fast-and-leading-to-a-mental-breakdown

6. Identifying a business model that’s right for YOU (and not just one you followed because of someone else’s story)

7. Acknowledging that you will have to eat a few “shit sandwiches”

8. Using an experimenter’s mindset to better weather the inevitable tough moments

9. Giving yourself permission to pivot to a different business model if things aren’t working

10. Set your daily work hour boundaries

11. Draw your lines in the sand (days you don’t do calls, your response times, how to contact you, etc)

12. Create an inspiring and motivating workspace

13. Define how you best work and build good habits for finding “flow”

14. Put intentional breaks on your calendar (daily walks, days off, content breaks, etc)

15. Acknowledge that you will burnout (or burnout again)

16. Accept that WE ALL EXPERIENCE BURNOUT ❤️

17. Start building your burnout savings now (and/or create a plan)

18. Decide what guardrails you need if you’re currently burned out

19. Be prepared for the new shiny object burnout

We hope that you are able to take actionable steps to avoid burnout from this article. As a reminder, reading an article does not promise you’ll never burn out again. But what we can guarantee is that you now have the knowledge to help you put anti-burnout guardrails in place and assist you in the creation of a solid foundation for your business that is best FOR YOU and YOUR specific situation!

Avoid Burnout With Our Anti-Burnout Business Plan

(Big Fat Takeaway)

By creating a solid foundation, setting realistic goals, and putting repeatable processes in place, you can avoid burnout in business.

IT IT

This article written by

Jason Zook

(he/him) Co-head-hancho of this WAIM thing. I used to wear t-shirts for a living, now I just wear them because I'm not a nudist. You can usually find me baking things, watching JCVD movies, and dreaming of living on an island.

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