January 28, 2014
How Entrepreneurs Can Avoid Burnout

You don’t have to look too far in Boston to see a burnt out entrepreneur. Blood-shot eyes, unshaven stubble, and eyes glued to a computer screen run amuck in this city.

With funding woes, competitive pressures, and a surplus of tasks on the to-do list, burn out is almost considered inevitable. At some time in your career as an entrepreneur, you can come to expect burn out. You can expect to be pulling-out-your-hair stressed, living-off-Cheetos unhealthy, and lacking any form of a personal life.

That’s the life of an entrepreneur.

But you didn’t leave your 9-5 just to develop acid-reflux and a mean case of anxiety. You did it because you wanted to change the world. You did it because you couldn’t go an entire night without rattling on about your latest idea. You did it because you were too passionate not to.

So why burn yourself out before you can achieve your dreams?

Don’t get me wrong—being an entrepreneur is tough. You’re building something entirely new from scratch. But it’s even more enjoyable when you can cross that finish line in one piece.

Want to skip that whole burnout period and just get to the fun stuff now? Follow these five tips:

1.  Start a Morning Routine.  What’s the first thing you do in the morning? Check customer e-mails? Look at web traffic? How you start your morning sets the tone for your day.  How you live your days sets the tone for your life.

Whether it’s working out, journaling, meditation, cooking a hearty breakfast, or just going for a walk, a morning routine will force you to focus on yourself, will give you a daily reset button, and will teach you how to stop being a perfectionist. It’s hard to strive for perfection when you’re doing the same thing every day. Don’t run well today? No problem—you’re going to get up and do it again tomorrow. 

2.  Set Boundaries.  Boundaries are the blueprint for your life. They’re the conscious rules for time management. They say exactly what you’re willing to put up with, when you’re willing to work, and what your priorities are.

Instead of limiting the opportunities coming your way, boundaries just focus you on the most promising ones. And you’d be surprised how easily people want to follow your boundaries once you actually set them.

3.  Make Stress Work for You.  Stress isn’t your enemy. In fact, it’s the only thing tightening your muscles, making you more alert, and giving you the energy to meet that deadline.

You’ve got to learn to distinguish between productive and unproductive stress. If you can do something about it, like handle a customer crisis, then it’s working in your favor. If you can’t, like getting stuck in traffic, then it’s a message that you need to drop some obligations or schedule time better so you can be effective at everything you do. 

4.  Treat Yourself.  We’re quick to be tough on ourselves, but not so easy to deliver praise. Celebrate every success, no matter how small. You want to get a massage or spend the afternoon golfing because you worked hard all week? You have my permission. Taking time to revitalize yourself means you’re more effective when you’re back at it.

And treating yourself doesn’t just mean extravagant celebrations. A few well-placed breaks throughout the day will do wonders to keep you on the ball.

5.  Get Really Good at Looking Really Bad.  Stop taking yourself so seriously. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and heartache if you just realize this right now: you’re not perfect and you never will be. No matter how many times you fall off that horse, keep getting back up. But always do it with a laugh.

You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to look stupid. A lot. Learn to embrace it and enjoy it. It’s all part of the fun of being an entrepreneur. Most people will forget your faux pas, and will like you better for your sense of humor, anyway.

Building a company is a lot of work. Don’t make it any more difficult on yourself than you have to. Have some fun, keep your eye on the long-term goals, and always remember why you’re doing this in the first place.

It’s your passion that is going to get people behind your startup.

Happy people change the world. Burnt out people fuel their own egos.

Now get out there and change the world.

Mike Iamele is a Corporate Wellness Coach, who specializes in helping entrepreneurs and executives manage stress, avoid burnout, and put their energy back into their passions. Catch him at, where he writes advice for finding balance every weekday.