January 18, 2023

Burnout is not sexy - managing your mind is


You can’t really avoid challenges and difficulties when building a startup. But what you can do, is prepare your mind to encounter those challenges. Burnout is not an inevitable part of entrepreneurship. But if you don’t care about your mind, it’s very likely you’ll find yourself mentally overloaded. In this article, I’ll share 5 tips on developing your psychological performance.

Startup founders are at a very high burnout risk

From my own experience, I can’t recommend the role of a startup founder to anyone looking for an easy, mentally balanced life. As a founder, you are 50% more susceptible to mental health issues (Michael Freeman 2017). In addition, 19% of founders feel that starting a company has contributed negatively to their well-being (Actomico’s State of European Tech Report).

The high-stress environment of only running the business itself is tough. And if we add all the events from past years: Covid-19, energy crisis, global recession… No wonder it sometimes feels like you just want to hide from the world and start all over on a lonely island far from the hustle.

However, you are still standing, so congratulations. But how to keep it that way and make sure that the next setback isn’t the straw that breaks the camel's back?

To be successful, you don’t need to give it all

We all know that startup founders are no strangers to hard work and long hours. Giving it all (and even more) has been seen as the inevitable part of being a successful entrepreneur. But trust me, gone are the days when pushing yourself to the limits was seen as a badge of honor.

In today’s world, the hero is not the founder who sacrifices their mental and physical health on the altar of entrepreneurship. On the contrary, today’s hero is the one who took the time to develop their psychological skills in advance and is brave enough to ask for help before the shit hit the fan – and still managed to achieve their goals and succeed.

In order to be the hero of today’s world, it's essential to prioritize psychological sustainability and know how your mind works. You wouldn’t participate in the iron man competition without training and understanding how your body works, would you? Similarly, you shouldn’t push your mind to the limits without training it and developing a deeper understanding of your own psychology.

5 tips on how to build psychological performance – and avoid founder burnout

So, what actions can founders take to prevent burnout and improve their psychological performance?

I’m not here to tell you the obvious things like “sleep more, eat your greens, exercise, and delegate”. Don’t get me wrong, you should definitely do these, but please – allow me to take you into a little deep-dive into the very roots of your psychological performance. These 5 actions are a great start to lower the likelihood of founder burnout and improve your psychological performance

  1. Practice self-reflection: Becoming aware of your feelings, thoughts, and automated behavior patterns is the very first step in developing psychological performance. For self-reflection, it might be good to find support from friends and family or seek professional help through therapy or coaching.
  2. Accept your thoughts and feelings: We tend to avoid negative thoughts and feelings, but actually suppressing them increases anxiety. To be psychologically stable, it's important to learn to accept difficult thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them.
  3. Set clear values: Acting against our values is exhausting and can by itself cause burnout. Identify your core values and use them to guide your actions. This will help you make decisions and take actions that are meaningful and fulfilling.
  4. Take committed action: Once you have identified your values, it's crucial to take action that aligns with them. Focus on the things you can control rather than dwelling on the negative. This may involve, e.g. clarifying your business objectives, setting boundaries for other people, taking more time off from work, or adding exercise to your daily routine.
  5. Let go of harmful beliefs: You might be guided by harmful beliefs such as “I always need to give my best” or “I must be there for others at all times”. These kinds of rigid thought patterns are the gasoline in the flames of founder burnout. Try defusing yourself from these toxic beliefs.

In conclusion

Starting a business is challenging. It takes guts, determination, and a whole lot of resilience to make it through the early stages. Burnout used to be considered a sign that you were working hard and sacrificing everything for your business. But these days, burnout is anything but sexy. In fact, it's a big turn-off – for you but also for your business.

Being mindful of your own psychology and proactively training your mind is an investment that pays off. Taking care of yourself is not a luxury, it's a necessity. By building your psychological performance, you can avoid burnout and keep your sexy factor intact. And who doesn't want to be a sexy, successful entrepreneur?

Interested in learning more? In this article, we focus on one of the most common issues leaders have. Can you guess what it is?

Salla Ibrahim

Co-Founder & Co-CEO

Laavu Performance