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Guest Opinion: Help! I don’t want to put my pants on, let alone run my business!


By Kathleen Riessen | Speaker, facilitator and businessadviser

Have you ever woken up and not wanted to go to work? You hit the alarm clock so many times that you risk being late. You know there’s a lot to do but you just can’t get going. 

This feeling can signal a big problem for an employee, but what happens when you are the boss? What happens when everyone is looking to you to lead the company but you don’t even want to put pants on?

Burnout is a serious issue. I see it everywhere, and I’m sure you do, too. How many people have you asked how they are doing and they respond with, “I’ve been really busy”? That’s a classic first sign. Busy represents uncontrolled work and stress that we place upon our life. As we ascend in the ranks of leadership and assume more responsibilities, burnout becomes an even bigger problem. According to the Harvard Business Review, 96 percent of senior leaders report feeling some kind of burnout and a third describe their burnout as extreme. That’s insane!

As leaders, it often feels like we aren’t allowed to have bad days, so we push through it. We get irritable and yell at those closest to us, including our subordinates and our family. We lose focus and change our routine – often missing workouts. We feel totally overwhelmed. We are tired and we avoid human interaction. You won’t see us engaging in small talk or even leaving our desks. We have become cynical and negative. But the worst is that we feel like we are leading an inauthentic life. We wake up one day and ask ourselves, “Who am I, and how did I become this person?”

If this describes you, then what should do you? Here are five tips to help you pull yourself out of burnout.

1. Find your purpose. Happy and fulfilled people realize that their career is not their purpose in life. Figure out why you are on this earth and what makes you smile. Go on vacation. Climb a mountain. Go to your kids’ sporting events. Doing the things that make you happy makes you a better leader. If you can’t take time off without your whole company falling apart, then you have taken on too much responsibility. It’s time to start empowering those around you. No time away = no life.

2. Take a retreat. Find a place that allows you to have time to just sit and think. Don’t have an agenda – just let your mind wander. Tell your family, friends and co-workers that you are going off the grid, and then do it. Turn your phone off. Don’t check email. Start with an hour each week and work your way to a longer period of time.

3. Talk with other business leaders. It can be lonely as a leader. When everyone is looking to you to lead, it’s hard to know if you can be vulnerable with anyone in your organization. Making friends with other business leaders helps you talk openly with someone who has been through the same situation as you. Or consider getting a coach who can hold you accountable to pulling yourself out of burnout and create fulfillment and balance in your life.

4. Smile. The simple act of smiling can improve your mood and change your brain chemistry. Turn that frown upside down.

5. Sleep. Get some. Enough said.

Burnout is like the plague. It can have a disastrous effect on you and your organization if you don’t recognize it, deal with it and work to prevent it in the future.

If you are a business leader who’s feeling burned out, then shoot me a note. I’ve been there and I get it. I promise no judgment – there’s a reason I have two ears and only one mouth.

Kathleen Riessen has juggled owning a professional services firm, owning three franchise operations, purchasing previously existing businesses, purchasing previously owned franchise businesses, developing and running a startup for 10 years and raising multiple children, all before the age of 35. Even with this immense amount of responsibilities, Riessen strives to lead a purposeful life focused on her why. Her ability to balance family, multiple businesses and volunteering while leading through opportunities of growth disguised as crises has led her on a mission to teach others this delicate balance. Her transformative message of living your why-life will inspire you to lead and live more fully. Contact her by email.

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