Episode 295

Moments with Michael: How to Avoid Burnout

In this episode, we talk about how to avoid burnout.

[00:00:00] Hello, my friend, today’s episode is just me. I’m recording an episode that I like to call moments with Michael, where I’m going to talk about today’s topic, which is burnout, I’m going to share the common warning signs that you are heading to burnout in your work and your life. I’m going to share four key strategies to helping avoid burnout.

So if you’ve been feeling a little tired, exhausted, and overwhelmed lately, this could be a great episode for you. Keep on listening.

Welcome to the Business for Unicorns podcast, where we help gym owners unleash the full potential of their business. I’m your host, Michael Keeler. Join me each week for actionable advice, expert insights, and the inside scoop on what it really takes to level up your gym. Get ready to unlock your potential and become a real unicorn in the fitness industry.

Let’s begin.[00:01:00]

Hello, fitness, business nerds. What’s up. Welcome to another episode of the business unicorns podcast. Before I dive into today’s episode, I want to just do a quick reminder that around this time of year, many of you who own a gym are probably trying to increase your rates, which we recommend you do every single year.

And right now on our website, we have a free and super valuable tool to help you do that. It’s called the raise your rates template. It’s not a very creative name, but it is a fantastic resource to help you raise your rates every year with less stress. It also includes a template for the email that you will send to your clients about raising your rates.

So click the link down below to get that free template. It’s an amazing free tool or go to our website, businessunicorns. com and click on free stuff to get that raise your rates template and make sure that as a gym owner, you’re raising your rates every single year. So today’s episode is actually going to be what would I tend to call a moment with Michael.

I haven’t done one of these episodes in a long time, but in this series, it’s just me in your ears today. No guests, no one [00:02:00] else from the team. Uh, and in this moments with Michael series, I’m going to share with you key concepts and research in the fields of leadership, organizational psychology, and change.

My goal for doing this is to share with you some of the most important things I’ve learned in my academic life and help you apply those things to how you run your business. So if you listeners who might be new might not know that I have a master’s degree in organizational psychology And I’m currently a doctoral student getting my PhD in leadership and change So I think a lot about leadership in our organizations and how to manage change in our gyms And in today’s episode what I want to talk to you about specifically is about self care for gym owners So for all of you out there who are founders and owners of a business, and even if you’re not, this podcast will be valuable to you.

But I really want to speak to those of you out there who have the ongoing stress and anxiety of being the person who is responsible for it all. The person who feels the weight on your [00:03:00] shoulders. Of keeping a business running day to day, because self care is really important for all of you, dear listeners.

So let me just share with you a few facts that I think are really important. And some of these facts come from some Forbes reporting, but they say that 42 percent of small business owners say they’ve experienced burnout in the last month. 24 percent reporting they’re currently experiencing burnout, which means almost half of you listeners who own a small business, which is what gyms are, have experienced burnout in the last month.

That’s a lot, even more. This was this, these stats are from 2022. So just about a year ago, they say about 48 percent of people they surveyed say that rising inflation is a big reason for their burnout and challenges in the last year. And they say that 71 percent of people they surveyed said that inflation had a negative impact on their business.

So finances. are often at the heart of what causes stress, anxiety, and burnout in gym owners. And it makes sense. If our business doesn’t have money [00:04:00] running through it, nothing else really matters. Without the money, it’s hard to do the work we do all the time. What I want to point out to you today is a few things.

One is I want to give you some insight into what the warning signs are. That you might be experiencing burnout or on your way to burnout. I want to tell you about basically four self care strategies to help you avoid burnout. And I want to just leave you with a few kind of personal thoughts and anecdotes about my own experience with burnout.

So let’s dive in. The first thing I want to do is you might be experiencing a path to burnout. If you on a regular basis are stressed. If part of your day is defined by stress every day, you’re probably on the path to burnout. If you describe yourself as being mentally or emotionally exhausted on a regular basis, you might be on your path to burnout.

The way I hear Unicorn Society members express this on a regular basis is the feeling [00:05:00] of, I just feel pulled in a million directions and I don’t know what to do, right? I’m just wearing so many hats in my business. I’m not sure where to put my time and energy and money. And that really is a sign of kind of mental and emotional exhaustion.

If you find yourself being sensitive to feedback, that might be a clue that you’re on your way to burnout. If you’re having trouble sleeping, eating, digestive issues, sometimes that’s a sign that your body is a little too stressed. You might be on your way to burnout. If you finally have a really short fuse and just the smallest shit.

Every day, it’s just causing you to fly off the handles. You might be on your way to burnout, my friends. And the last one is if you really feel like some feelings of resentment or dread, right, when you’re going into work and a lot of your kind of thoughts throughout the day are resentment towards other people.

Or dreaded having to interact with other people or frustration with people working with people who you think are just [00:06:00] ineffective. That really is caused a lot of wear and tear on you physically and emotionally. So that is often a sign that you’re heading towards burnout. So. That’s not a complete list, but I was going to give you some framework that if you’re experiencing some of those things and you do not address them, you don’t take action to change your circumstances, to change your mindset, you are inevitably heading to some burnout.

And what I mean by burnout is really getting to the place where you can’t function effectively. Every day, because you’ve reached a point of mental and physical exhaustion. That’s really what I mean when I’m talking about burnout and today’s conversation and all those things I listed could be signs that you’re heading that direction in that direction, if you don’t do something about it.

So the next thing I want to cover is, okay, then what the fuck. Do you do about it? What do you do if you think you’re heading to burnout and you don’t want to continue down that path? I’ll say there’s a lot of things I could say, but what I’m going to introduce you to is a model that comes from a book of this book is called resonant leadership, resonant, [00:07:00] R E S O N A N T resonant leadership.

And the authors are Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee. If you want to go grab the book, they’ve written a few things together. They even have a work book about resident leadership, but the reason I’d like. Citing these folks is because they speak specifically about this cycle of stress and what they call renewal that owners and leaders have to go through, that there’s a unique kind of stress with being in charge of a whole company or a whole team of people.

And that leader stress, if not managed, will lead to burnout. And the way they suggest that you manage it is through this process of renewal. And so. Renewal really comes in these kind of four qualities. So that’s what I want to walk through today. And the rest of this podcast is the four things that Richard Bryant says, Annie McKee in their book really highlight as these are strategies.

These four things are strategies to help you get in front of and overcome burnout. There are self care strategies to help you [00:08:00] get in a good place and stay in a good place. And so I’ll tell you what the four are. And then I’m going to dive into each one. The first one is mindfulness. Helping you develop the ability to understand and choose how you respond to people in situations.

That’s mindfulness Second one, they list is hope having positive emotions about your impact and the world around you Optimism I might even say is connected to that. The third one they say is compassion Being attuned to other people, caring about others, caring about more than just yourself, in fact. And the last one, they say, the fourth one is play, a sense of fun, a sense of spontaneity.

And so I’m going to dive into all four of them. But those are the four kind of strategies they recommend in the book, which is developing a mindfulness practice, connecting with your sense of hope and optimism. Having compassion, caring about more than just yourself and having some play, some fun, joy, spontaneity.

Those are [00:09:00] the kind of four overarching strategies that help you combat this cycle of burnout and mental exhaustion and stress that afflicts most leaders. So let’s talk more about mindfulness. So mindfulness starts with self awareness. Mindfulness starts with knowing yourself. And knowing yourself lets you choose how to respond to people in situations, deep knowledge about yourself really enables you to be consistent and present and to be authentically yourself.

I think maybe even most importantly, mindfulness allows you to notice the subtle clues that tell you to attend to yourself more carefully, right? Mindfulness allows you to be so present that you recognize when something’s off in yourself. Something’s off in others around you. And then you can. Change your reaction.

You can change your behavior when you’re more attuned to yourself and those around you. It can give you some behaviors, some actual tactical things you can do. If you want to be more mindful every [00:10:00] day, the core question you want to be thinking about is how can I be more mindful in my everyday routine?

And here are five ways to do that. One, you can start a meditation practice. Meditation is a great mindfulness activity that might include even something like a mindful movement, like yoga or those kinds of modalities. You can start a daily reflection journal, right? You can improve your self awareness by writing about how you think and feel on a regular basis.

You can do this at the, on the team level, so you can make time for self reflection in one on one meetings with people you manage, with your whole team. And I think organizations that prioritize and make time for reflection about and on your work are teams that learn faster. So that kills, you know, a bunch of birds with one stone.

Though I’ve heard a different response other than killing birds with stones that I should be using. I can’t remember what it is, but I think it’s catch a few fish with one worm. Yeah, anyway, that’s a strategy. That self reflection for yourself and those on your team. That’s a strategy that gets you a lot with one, one action.

The fourth thing you can do to improve mindfulness is start to notice and name [00:11:00] how you’re feeling at least once a day. And at least once a day, say out loud, at least to yourself, this is how I’m feeling. And start to name the emotional experience that you’re going throughout the day. And this helps you get in touch with your kind of emotional landscape.

And the fifth thing I’ll say about, about developing mindfulness practice is taking some walks. Get outside, take some walks, listen to music, observe your surroundings, listen to music or an audio book, or take a walk and don’t listen to anything. Just be present. In the moment. And so that’s strategy.

Number one, it’s just developing a mindfulness practice and ask yourself, how can you be more mindful in your everyday routine? And I give you five behaviors that you can start to tackle to do just that. Let’s keep going. Strategy. Number two is hope. Hope like other positive emotions really has a positive impact on your brain, on your hormones.

It affects your perception of the world around you. And you’ll tend to see things more [00:12:00] positively. If you carry with you a sense of hope. And really thinking about things in a hopeful way, it has a real impact on you immediately. It can slow your breath. It can lower your blood pressure. There’s research that suggests that it can improve your immune system.

And certainly it engages your, for you nerds out there, your parasympathetic

nervous system. Jeez, I need more tea today. And so when you can engage with a sense of hope, you will feel more calm, more happy, more optimistic. And that’s contagious. Leaders who show up with a sense of hope and a sense of optimism will have that resonate throughout their organization, especially in times of change or in times of crisis, you and your team will be both physically and mentally better able to cope with challenges if you hold a sense of hope.

Every day. So the core question I want you to ask here is, how can you share your hopes and your dreams and specifically your optimistic hopes and dreams [00:13:00] more often with yourself and your team? And I’m going to give you really five behaviors for how you can do that. One is write and share a hopeful vision for your company.

If you don’t have a vision statement. Write one, get really clear about what is the most hopeful vision for your company and share that with your team. If you don’t have a vision statement for your life, write down what you want your life to look like in three years, five years, 10 years. Another thing you can do is start each one on one meeting you have or.

Team meeting you have by celebrating your successes. Oftentimes we just jump right into the things that are going wrong. But if you can spend just a little time in every meeting and have some discipline around celebrating your wins and your successes, that really engenders a sense of hope in your culture.

The fourth thing you can do here is ask your clients to create hopeful goals for their fitness. So if you want your whole gym to resonating with a sense of hope, ask your clients to engage in that hopeful practice of really positive, optimistic. Goal setting about their future kind of fitness outcomes.

[00:14:00] Uh, and the fifth one I’ll share here is ask your team to create some visions for themselves, have them do some optimistic reflecting on what they want for their work and their life personally and professionally in the future. What do they want their growth to look like their careers to look like? I’ll stop there.

I can go in, but those are five things you can do to really engage more regularly with hope. And again, hope is just one of these key strategies for combating ongoing stress and burnout. So we covered mindfulness. We covered hope. We got two more. The next strategy is all about compassion. And so really the key tenant here is that effective leaders are in tune with other people.

I’ll say that again. Effective leaders are in tune with other people and being in tune with others means caring about them. Leadership is really a process of relationship building and management. Caring about someone is what invokes the kind of curiosity and respect and empathy [00:15:00] that’s really required of compassion, right?

You really can’t have, uh, compassion in your day to day practice unless you are really caring about others with real curiosity and respect and empathy. And so really when we think about compassion, if I was to break it down, there’s really three main components of how to think about what compassion is.

One is understanding of and empathy for the feelings and experiences of others, right? That’s a mouthful, so I’ll say that again. But really understanding and empathizing for the thoughts and feelings of other people. That’s part of compassion, just general genuine care and kindness for others is compassion and a willingness to act on those feelings of care and empathy.

So the willingness to actually put your behaviors in line with your care for others. Those are the real three components, right? Is caring about the thoughts and feelings of others. having empathy for the thoughts and feelings of others, and it really is to act on that care and [00:16:00] empathy. So the core question here, how do you put compassion into practice is the core question is this, how can you engage?

With more curiosity about the feelings and experiences of other people. That’s the core question here. Again, ask yourself, how can you engage with more curiosity about the feelings and experiences of other people around you? I’m going to give you five ways to do that. So here are five really tactical ways you can engage with more.

Compassion. Number one, volunteer, volunteer to local charity, showing up in a way that puts other people, the center of what you care about demonstrates with your behaviors that you care for others. Number two, ask people about their feelings, ask people how they’re feeling more often, not in a, how are you today?

And then don’t listen for the answer kind of way, but genuinely. Double down, say, how are you today? And they’ll be like, Oh, I’m fine. Okay. Really? No, really. How are you? What’s going on? Double down and really get [00:17:00] curious about how people are feeling. Number three, stay curious with folks, even when you disagree.

So even when you’re talking with someone who you’re not on the same page with, stay in it, stay curious. It’s those folks who have different perspective as us, different perspectives as us that we often have the most to learn from. Number four, surround yourself with people who are different from you.

Have some people in your life who are different from you. This one, I can’t stress enough. It’s probably dedicate a whole podcast to this, but be surrounding yourself. People who are different for you will help you see the world from a different angle and have compassion for people who don’t have the same life experiences as you.

The last thing, number five, the fifth way you can bring more compassion into your day to day life is lean in when others say they’re struggling. I’ll say that one again, lean in when others say you’re struggling. So when people are not having a good time, whether it’s colleagues or, or people, people in your personal life, lean in, make time for [00:18:00] them, ask more questions, offer your support proactively.

Yeah. So those are five things you can do. Tactics you can start doing right now to bring a little more compassion in your life. So we’ve covered mindfulness, hope, compassion. The fourth one is play. And this one’s pretty self explanatory. Play represents intrinsically motivated activities that you do for pleasure.

So these are things that you just choose to do because they bring you pleasure and enjoyment. And really, there’s 30 years of research that shows that play is very productive for humans. at any age, right? Play is not just necessary for kids. We need play to help our brains stay flexible, to ward off depression, to really sustain optimism and hope.

And play also helps us sharpen our social emotional skills. So there’s a lot really baked into this value of play. And so the question you want to be asking yourself is how can you prioritize more time for play in your weekly schedule? How do [00:19:00] you make play part of your priority list every single week.

And I’m going to give you five things that you might consider doing to get more play in your regular routine. Number one, spend time with kids. Whether they’re your kids or someone else’s kids, with permission, spend time with kids. They naturally do this. They have imaginations and they try things and they explore.

And you just being around kids helps. Number two, same thing with pets. Pets of all kinds, right? They’re curious. They explore. They ask us to relate differently to the world. We get down on the ground with them. We run around with them. We play games with them. All of that engenders a sense of play. And if you’re already doing that because you have kids or you have pets, those may not be the things for you.

Because in many cases you might be obligated to do that with your own kids and your own pets. You might want to find some other kids. And some other kit pets to play with, and maybe that will bring you new kinds of fun and enjoyment. Not that your [00:20:00] own kids and pets don’t, but there might be an obligation there that prevents you from really unlocking all the benefits of play that are possible.

Number three, try some new hobbies that sound fun. Try some new activities you haven’t done before that are fun. Try them out. Whether it’s going to join that pickleball league or taking that art class or, um, learning to garden. Try something that sounds fun for you haven’t done before. Number four, go somewhere that you haven’t gone before that sounds fun.

Try out that new restaurant or cafe. Go to that neighborhood that you’ve only driven through but haven’t spent any time in. Go on a trip if you can, the fun place that you’ve been looking forward to going to, but haven’t gone. And number five, try a new activity for your body, that would be fun. Give your body a new experience that you think would be enjoyable.

Whether that’s a, a new body treatment like massage or Reiki or Shiatsu, or it’s a new physical experience, like a new form of exercise, or wearing different clothes, right? There’s a million ways to go about that, but those are [00:21:00] five things you can do to get a better sense of play. In your life. So there it is, my friends to wrap up, let me do this.

I’m going to say that there are a lot of evidence that as an owner of a business, you have a burnout on a regular basis that you’re going to experience chronic stress, emotional exhaustion on a regular basis. And one of the ways to combat that is by practicing. The four qualities that we talked about here, the four strategy we talked about here, but which is having more mindfulness in your everyday routine, sharing your hope and optimism more often with yourself and your team, creating some conditions for more regular compassion and engaging with others in a compassionate and curious way.

And making time to prioritize play, making time to prioritize pleasure and enjoyment in your life. And the best research that I have access to, that we all have access to, tells us that when we do [00:22:00] those four things more regularly, we are less likely to experience regular and chronic burnout. Those things help us stay in a positive, balanced place as much as possible.

Yeah, I’m going to end there. I have much more to say about this topic as with all topics I cover on these moments with Michael, but I’m going to end there. And I hope that you took away some really actionable things you can start to really do tomorrow to get more mindfulness, hope, compassion, and play.

If this was helpful, let me know, shoot me an email at michaelbusinessforunicorns. com. And as I said at the beginning of this episode, if you own a gym and you’re trying to raise your rates, go click the link in the bio, get our raise your rates template and get those rates up every single year to make sure your profit margin stays strong.

Thanks for listening. My friends. See on the next one. Bye bye.