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Even in this year of challenges, get out or burn out

Original article published in the Idaho Business Review

Megan Bryant is the director of the Idaho Women's Business Center
Megan Bryant is the director of the Idaho Women’s Business Center

The temperature gauge on the dashboard of my bright orange Jeep Wrangler indicated 22 degrees. It was 6:38 a.m. on a Saturday and I had a date with the sunrise.

As a Boise Idaho native, I have been well aware of the expansive recreational options just minutes from any stretch of the entire valley. I have also, unfortunately, taken that information for granted, missing countless opportunities to commune with the beautiful landscapes and bustling wildlife in exchange for an aggressive lifestyle of over-achieving coupled with a possibly unhealthy relationship with a never-ending task list for work and parenting duties.

“I’ll make time for an outing someday…”

Sound familiar?

Trading those familiar, relentless sounds of everyday life; email notifications, ringing phones, arguing children, for the sounds of a trickling creek, a family of deer effortlessly leaping through the frosty sage brush, and each step of my own, rhythmically crunching the snow-crusted trail was exactly what I needed. A literal breath of fresh air.

And it’s what we all need much more often than we may realize.

Why has working ourselves to the point of burnout has become such a prominent force in our society?

Perhaps it is a combination of things. Trying to prove our worth? Trying to “get ahead?” Maybe it is the expectations (or perceived expectations) placed upon us by ourselves and others ad nauseum? Are we too busy trying to acquire things; stuff we do not need or certain statuses or financial thresholds before we might give ourselves permission to take a break?

Whatever it is, we have somehow become entangled in a cycle of work and community obligations that can short circuit our system if we are not careful.

For entrepreneurs, it can be particularly taxing because everything about the entrepreneur’s life goes into the success of the business. Time away from family and friends. Money (we’re talking personal savings accounts, use of credit cards; putting all of their personal finances into play.) With long hours and the all-to-common idea that they must do it all themselves.

Sometimes it can feel like a race against the clock to get business up and running, but taking a steady focused approach to tackle one step at a time, including personal wellness especially during a pandemic, will keep an entrepreneur in a better position to rebound quicker when and if crisis does (and it will) hit.

Yes, this year has presented many small businesses with unparalleled challenges. And, it’s created opportunities for entrepreneurs to stretch their creativity in new ways to forge ahead. Yes, 2020 has been relentless with public health issues, election drama, and earthquakes. And, it’s pushed us to re-evaluate what matters most to us and fortify the WHY behind our business objectives. Yes, those with kiddos have added challenges of modified school protocols. And, an increase in appreciation for teachers. Yes, there has been radical changes in the normal workspace. And, it has pushed us to scrutinize work tasks to determine a new frontier in running some parts of the business remotely and virtually. Yes, there has been loss of employment both voluntary and involuntary during this season. And, we are seeing a HUGE surge in new business start-ups.

Yes, there are trials. And, there are victories and new opportunities just beyond the pain points of change for those who are willing to put in the work and take care of themselves along the way.

If there is one thing we’ve learned from our clients at the Idaho Women’s Business Center, it’s that we are stronger together. There is no shame in asking for help. And sacrificing physical health or mental wellness is never worth it in the long run.

Prioritizing healthy habits like resting, drinking more water, and being outside even if for a short walk will help increase focus and productivity. Our bodies need breaks. When we take care of ourselves, we will reap the positive benefits of a healthier balance with our workload.

Self-care is no longer a buzz word; it is a MUST DO for those who want to come out of this challenging time with the best-case scenario.

Creating the healthy habits where they are lacking and further amplifying things we are already doing well can only have positive effects in the workplace. Taking a minute to breathe between emails, standing up to stretch between Zoom meetings, or stepping outside for a 10-minute walk before jumping into your next project will give you the edge of a clearer mind.

As I headed back down the Adelmann Mine trail, just east of Boise, the sun was beaming through the clear blue sky causing the crunchy snow to sparkle and shine like a sequin ball gown. A couple of hours outside was rejuvenating to my body and mind. There is more to life than work, and we are better at work when we live more of our life away from the screens.

Together, let’s create the trend of taking care of ourselves and rally with other local business owners to fill the gaps in your business instead of carrying the load yourself.

Get out before you burn out. The work will be here when you get back.

Megan Bryant is director of the Idaho Women’s Business Center, which serves entrepreneurs by providing training, tools and connections to resources for small businesses to thrive throughout the state of Idaho.  She is an Improv Trainer in the corporate arena, teaching principles derived from the art form of improvisation, to enhance communication, unlock creativity, and champion a respectful and inclusive company culture. She’s an award-winning author of her autobiography, “Not My Plan – Sucking it in Until I had to Push it Out.” Bryant was named 2019’s Best Local Comedian by the Boise Weekly and hosts the podcast, “I Hardly Know Her!” Bryant has been the recipient of such honors as Idaho Business Review’s Accomplished Under 40 and Women of the Year awards. 

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