The Uncounted Cost

Too many business owners think they can't afford the time it takes to look after themselves. But can

In light of how crazy 2020 has been, we felt the need to re-emphasise the importance of mental health for small business owners.

Research by Michael Freeman of the University of San Francisco found that:

  • 49% of entrepreneurs suffer from at least one form of mental health condition in their lifetime
  • Start-up founders are twice as likely to suffer from depression
  • They are three times more likely to suffer from substance abuse
  • And twice as likely to be suicidal

Degradation in personal health isn’t just bad for you. Its bad for your family, your employees, your clients and your business.

Psychologists Herbert Freudenberger and Gail North outlined 12 phases of burnout:

  1. Excessive ambition. You are excited, passionate and determined to take on the whole world – no matter what it takes
  2. Pushing harder. Your ambition makes you push yourself harder, even when you feel yourself flagging.
  3. Neglecting personal needs. You begin to sacrifice self-care. Things like sleep, exercise and good diet go out the window.
  4. Displacement of conflict. Instead of acknowledging that you are pushing harder than you can bear, you blame everything around you for your troubles.
  5. Workaholic time. You have no time for anything not related to work. You withdraw from family and friends and social invitations become a burden instead of a joy.
  6. Denial. You become impatience with everyone and everything, but instead of taking responsibility you blame others.
  7. Withdrawal. You begin to isolate yourself from others and avoid social interaction.
  8. Behavioural changes. You can become more aggressive and less patient with those closest to you.
  9. De-personalisation. You begin to feel completely detached from your life and your ability to control your life.
  10. Inner emptiness. You feel constantly empty and anxious. This phase often leads to dangerous behaviours such as thrill-seeking, substance abuse or overeating.
  11. Depression. Life loses meaning and you begin to feel hopeless
  12. Mental or physical collapse. You can no longer function and you will need the assistance of a medical professional.

It’s fairly obvious that stages 10-12 have a detrimental effect on your business, but actually, your business is already going to begin feeling the effects of your burnout at phase 3. If you are truly motivated by ambition, then you need to accept that you will never achieve your goals if you neglect your own health and wellbeing.

Burnout is the Uncounted Cost. So few business owners realise what they are costing themselves and their own success by not taking the time to look after themselves.

Please, do yourself and your ambition a favour, and make sure you take the time to keep yourself healthy. As a business owner, you already know the importance of scheduling your work and tracking your tasks, so take some time today and add the following three things to your schedule:

  1. Exercise
  2. Eating a balanced diet
  3. Getting enough sleep

These three simple things will keep you on the path to success, don’t neglect them.

If you are worried that you have already pushed too hard, then please don’t be too proud to ask for help. Burning out is easier than you think. What is not easy is coming back from a mental breakdown. Rather avoid one completely. Reach out to the people who love you and, where necessary, consider professional help.

If you are experience the following symptoms on a regular basis then it might be time to reach out:

  • Exhaustion
  • Isolation
  • Escape fantasies
  • Irritability
  • Frequent illness

Stop your downward spiral before it ends up costing you your dreams.

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