Today’s Biz Ladies post comes from Selfactivator.com blogger Sinclair. Sinclair has coached NASA, Disney, Bitch Media and many other creative entrepreneurs on how to become successful and unstoppable. Today she shares her helpful advice on how to stay focused and avoid burnout. Thanks Sinclair for these fantastic steps to keeping our eyes on the prize! — Stephanie
*P.S.: The Design*Sponge Advertising Team blog has a new post today all about targeting techniques (example: geo-targeting) and when to use them for your ads.
CLICK HERE for the full post after the jump!
How to Avoid Burnout as a Creative Entrepreneur
Creative entrepreneurs like you, dear Biz Ladies, have a unique set of challenges. To start and grow your business, you need:
Inspiration + creativity + biz know how + production + systems + a million other things.
Whew. That’s a lot to keep up with. No wonder so many creatives hit burnout in their businesses. I see a lot of them come through my client roster, and many more afraid of totally going after their thing because they’re afraid of snuffing their creative spark with Burnout.
And once you’re in the big B, it feels huge, mysterious and overwhelming. But you never reach Burnout in one fell swoop. It happens bit by bit, until all of a sudden, you are in it.
Here are seven steps to avoid hitting that “oh-no” point:
1. Feed your creativity. No, really. Creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum — if your creative medium was your hobby, chances are you naturally fed it with books, classes, friends and trips to galleries. Now as a busy biz-lady, the temptation is to let that inspiration stuff slide when you go into production mode. But you actually need more inspiration, not less, when you make your creative thing your business. What inspires you about your creative heroes? What are your peers doing? What textures, colors, patterns and places light you up? Make no mistake, that stuff changes over time. Keep feeding the creative spirit so you don’t hit a wall later.
2. Respect your resources. You can be business warrior-woman for only so many hours a day. Warrior-mode is a temporary state, but today we’re living as if it can go on and on. No matter how passionate you are about business, you’ve still got a finite amount of physical, mental and emotional resources. If you need to push to get a line to market or hit a big deadline, that’s fine. Just schedule downtime afterwards. We are not automatons! Creative people have productivity cycles, big time. Which means you may have really productive periods, followed by quiet ones. Nothing’s wrong with you, I promise! We’re built to recover from big bursts of energy, and planning for that can minimize frustration later. Which leads us to . . .
3. Know your creative cycles. From Inspiration to Completion, you’ve got your own favorite grooves in the creative process, and other parts that don’t feel so hot. For myself, I love the Idea-generating phase (the Completion part, not so much). My friend John Unger, a welder, loves the editing process, while a designer client of mine is just thrilled to sleep 10 hours a day, because she knows how easily her commissions will go if she hibernates a bit first. Get extra support during your least favorite part of the process, and celebrate when you’re rocking out the part that’s easiest for you.
4. Have an off switch. Raise your hand if you’ve ever caught yourself thinking about your business when you’re supposed to be having fun, or spending time with your family. Yeah. Many creative people become entrepreneurs to have a better quality of life, then find themselves totally stressed and unable to set work aside. The antidote is to learn what you can get done in a day, and set goals accordingly. Review what you’ve accomplished at the end of each workday, especially if you work from home. You need an off switch, a confirmation that you’ve been productive. Doing this will give you permission to really relax, and set your business aside.
5. Instead of being a resource, have a resource. There’s a widespread phenomenon that still makes me laugh — people assume that entrepreneurs are more available to help, be flexible and support others when usually the opposite is true. If you’re a giver and a generous, lovely soul, you’ve gotta find a way to set clear boundaries. There’s no boss to hide behind, you are accountable to yourself, so practice restraint with your generosity. Sure, you could help run that craft fair, PTA or networking group, but only after you’ve met your business goals for the month, and scheduled serious down-time, too. If you’re in business for the long haul, you’ve got to care about how you’ll feel at the end of each day, month and year. Share resources carefully, or direct others to resources that don’t come from you. The goal is more freedom, not less!
6. Remember the big stuff. When we get overwhelmed, the brain tends to focus on small details and attach large emotions to them. Oh my God, the laundry! It’s killing me! And that client email is sucking my soul! If you find yourself having large responses to small things, STEP BACK. Remember the big stuff — why you’re in business in the first place, what’s awesome about your work, your clients and list of things you have control over. Remember your personal bumper sticker, whatever it is — your positive motivation to be in business. (This is the best use of 60 seconds I’ve ever found to avoid burnout.)
7. Keep up with your new dreams. When you started your business, you probably got really clear on your creative vision. Fabulous! Good work. There’s just one teensy problem — you’ll keep adding to those dreams as you go. The most-traveled onramp to burnout is ignoring these dreams as they change and grow. It’s so easy to have Something Greater calling your name and find yourself saying, “Shut up, Something Greater. I’ve got emails to write.” It takes courage to keep amending your dreams and keep up with them, but hey. You’re a biz-lady. You can rock the socks off any dream you’ve got.
What else do you do to avoid burnout or recover from it? Share your thoughts with us in the comments, and I’ll talk to you soon! You can find me at selfactivator.com for more creative entrepreneurial goodness. xo, Sinclair