You’ve worked so hard to get to the position you’re in. You’ve done the crummy jobs, spent time and money on your education, maybe you’ve built a successful company and a family, too. This is the life you always wanted – so why does it all feel so awful sometimes?
Maybe you’ve never even admitted that it feels awful – it’s a little scary, isn’t it? To look at everything you’ve built only to feel like maybe it was all for nothing because you just feel… empty. Acknowledging it or saying it out loud probably feels like the beginning of the end. So, you keep pushing and keep telling yourself you just have to get over the hump. Gotta have that hustle mentality, right? Power through, suck it up, buttercup, get it done, no excuses. That’s what we entrepreneurs tell ourselves and each other. We share quotes on #MotivationMonday and cheer each other on because we think the only answer is to just keep going.
We’re afraid to slow down or, worse (and most inconceivable), to stop.
But the truth is, this road we’re all cruising down, the one that’s driving us to be all the things to all the people – the boss, the wife, the mom, the friend, the good neighbor, the PTA president, etc – it’s a one way trip to Burnout City. And the only way to change that destination, is to take the next exit, pull over to the side of the road and take a good look at the map (does anyone use maps anymore?) before going any further.
So, consider this your permission to take a moment. Press pause, just for a few minutes. Let’s talk about what’s really going on and how to fix it.
You’re Not Failing; It’s Decision Fatigue
PHEW. It’s not your fault! What a relief…. Wait. What the heck is decision fatigue?
Decision fatigue is one of those things that has been around as long as there have been entrepreneurs, but it didn’t really have a name until fairly recently. We’ve all felt it, we’ve all wanted it to go away, but we never really knew what we were dealing with so there wasn’t much to be done about it.
Simply put, decision fatigue is the deterioration of… well, basically everything… after you’ve made 11,324 decisions every day for as long as you can remember and you just can’t do it anymore. It’s the natural response to overload and burnout – that’s right. It’s natural. You’re not crazy. You’re just… done.
If you think about it, you start making decisions the moment you open your eyes – should you workout or sleep in, what are you going to wear, what are you going to feed the kids for breakfast, who’s going to drop the kids at school, which client are you going to check in with first, what project needs your immediate attention, which employee is going to get a promotion… on and on and on until you make your last decision of the day and decide what time to go to sleep. Only to wake up and do it all over again, likely not even feeling all that rested despite having just woken up. It is a vicious cycle and you probably haven’t even realized you were in it because, to you, it’s just life.
But it doesn’t have to be.
How Do I Fix It When I Still Have to Make Decisions?
Obviously, your life can’t come to a screeching halt and you can’t just run away from the work that needs to be done. But, I promise you, if you at least give yourself permission to take a PAUSE, you’ll actually start remembering why you liked that work in the first place.
You just need some headspace to reconnect with your purpose. There hasn’t been much room for the fun stuff when you’ve been wearing yourself thin with all those decisions. But your vision and your purpose haven’t just disappeared into thin air. They’re still there, hiding under the daily minutiae that’s been occupying every waking moment.
So, it’s time to pull the car over and get a good look at the landscape. Let’s start by doing the following:
- Schedule time for yourself to rest. Don’t just make a mental note to do it – SCHEDULE it. Because we all know how fast that calendar fills up and the next thing you know, weeks have passed and you haven’t had a single moment of rest.
- When you’re resting… actually REST. Turn off your phone, or at least put it on silent so you’re not getting notifications. Tell your family and your employees that you will be unavailable at that time and let them know they should not disturb you unless the house is on fire or a client is on fire (ok, maybe don’t say it like that..). Read a book, take a nap, take a bath, do some yoga. Do something that makes you feel good. No major decisions – just peace.
- Once you’ve got the self-care practice down, schedule time to visioncast for your business – that’s the fun stuff you’ve been missing and haven’t had time for! It will connect you with your purpose and will help to reignite your passion. Think about where you want to go with your business or your personal life. Daydream a little – it’s good for you.
- After you’ve realigned yourself with your vision, it’s time to start letting go of the things that are standing in the way of reaching that vision. What hats can you remove and give to someone else so that you have more time to do the things you love. What decisions can become someone else’s responsibility? This isn’t just for your job – what can you change at home? Can you let go of making dinner every night and let your spouse take care of it sometimes? Are your children old enough to take on some chores to help you around the house? The best way to prevent decision fatigue and burnout from happening again is to relinquish a little bit of the control you’ve held on to. You don’t need to do it all. Take the help.
Doing these things will help clear that fog that’s been making everything just feel off lately. And when you feel like you can see your path forward again, it’s safe to start the car back up and hit the road again, but this time heading towards the destination of YOUR choosing.