Most of the time you think it’s pretty obvious, right? If you’re working seven days a week and you’re overwhelmed and exhausted that you can’t even function properly anymore, you know you’re likely burnt out.
But the signs often start more subtly. It’s not like one day you are fully relaxed and motivated and then the next, you have a mental breakdown and realize things need to change. Nope. It’s subtle, it starts slow, and one day it hits you *seemingly* out of nowhere, but it’s not.
So, what are some of the more subtle signs that you may be experiencing burnout, or even just headed in that direction? Let’s get into it, so we can stop this burnout in its tracks!
Sign 1: You get calls and texts from clients outside of your ‘business hours’
No doubt when you first start your business, you’re happy with every booking request text or call, no matter the hour of day! But as time goes on and you start building your business, the lines start to blur and you realize you’re constantly responding to business demands, even if it’s after hours.
Really these texts and calls feel so minuscule - after all, it only takes you about 10 seconds to respond to a text, “Yes, we’ll walk Fido tomorrow in the afternoon.”
But… what happens here is that there’s no separation. There’s no personal life outside of your business. Your brain is always at-the-ready for the next *ding.* One of the first recommendations any business accountant or bookkeeper will recommend is to separate personal and business finances. “Get a separate business checking and credit card,” they’ll say.
This applies to your business availability, too! It’s time to separate your personal life from your professional life just a bit. What would happen if you stepped away from answering clients after hours?
And of course, if you’ve never done this before, it may be time to communicate expectations, protocols, and systems to ensure clients still feel taken care of. Whether you’re hiring an admin assistant, setting up automated responders, or adding to your welcome packet, it’s essential to ease current clients’ into this new mode of communication. Our Burnout Guide has templates for you to implement in this scenario, but the bottom line - It’s time to cut off the *dings* after hours!
Sign 2: You have a short fuse
A while back, we surveyed our audience specifically on the topic of burnout in their pet business. And, you know something we came across too frequently in the survey? More often than not, pet business owners were feeling like they were extra impatient with their loved ones, had a short fuse, and were super irritable at the smallest things!
Sometimes we chalk it up to other things like… you were on your period, or it was a long day, or you had a hard client. The difference here is that if this becomes regular or routine…
If you’re battling with your partner more than you should, or the things he/she is doing is more bothersome on a regular basis, this may be burnout itching its way into your life.
Take a step back and see if you can find a specific trigger or reason for the irritability. If it feels like your irritability doesn’t really come from something worthwhile when you look at it objectively, do you think it could be stemming from your work? Did you have a stressful day?
This is a big one, and a relatable one, too. You’re not alone if you’re struggling with this - I’ll tell you that!
Think of this as a sign from your body that things are not okay. It’s telling you and your loved ones that things need to change. Can you work on separating your business and your personal life a bit more? Perhaps take the long way home while listening to relaxing music so you can decompress before heading home?
If you need some help setting boundaries in your business, check out our post on 11 boundaries to set in your pet business to help reduce stress and overwhelm.
Sign 3: You aren’t feeling motivated anymore
This one is HARD. But it’s even harder sometimes to distinguish between… are you burnt out and that’s why you’re experiencing this loss of motivation or is it truly time to let go and move on?
My biggest suggestion here: It’s time to spend even 5 minutes getting yourself into a relaxed state. We want to start from neutral here. From there, start to think back on the reason you first started your business.
Ponder the following questions:
Why did you start your business?
Do those reasons still apply to where you’re at right now?
If your business was running smoothly, would you want to keep going?
Do you want to grow your pet business?
How would you feel if you didn’t have your pet business anymore?
What other career choices would you want to explore, if any?
If any of these questions brought back feelings like yes, the reasons still apply, and if things were going better, I would 100% want to keep going, and I cannot imagine doing anything else, then perhaps what you’re dealing with here is burnout and not a change of heart.
There are so many quick and easy ways to get your business a bit more automated and streamlined so that you can begin to chip away at this loss of motivation. There are so many tasks to handle as a business owner, but imagine not having to do all of them. Whether you’re removing it from the business, you’re automating it, or you’re delegating it, there are so many ways to take some things off your plate.
A lot of it boils down to client experience, especially if you’re trying to grow the business at the same time as removing it from your plate. Another helpful resource for ya - 3 mistakes people are making with client experience that is causing major burnout!
Sign 4: You’re forgetting things or missing steps or constantly rescheduling appointments
This one I love to call mom brain or pregnancy brain or stress brain or…. *anything that can make life a bit more hectic than normal.*
I’ve experienced this one soooo many times over the years, and now it’s become a sort of alert to my body that something needs to change. When I realize that I put the orange juice in the pantry instead of the refrigerator or that I didn’t even realize my husband was talking to me or that I totally blanked on what I was supposed to do… it’s telling me my mind has gone into overdrive and it’s time to reevaluate here.
What are my priorities? What needs to be done? How can I fit in some “me” time? What can I do to decompress?
While it’s no fun to have these forgetful events happen to you, it’s almost like your body is communicating with you. Like, “bro… it’s enough with the constant working and lack of sleep! I can’t take it any longer!”
Recognize your body’s communication methods (your body is so wise!) and respond accordingly.
If you’re struggling with any of the above hidden signs of burnout or perhaps you just know you’re dealing with burnout right now in your pet business, we created our Burnout Guide to help with JUST this.
You built your business to do what you're passionate about, to be your own boss, and to feel free in your life. Burnout can manifest itself in all sorts of ways - from emotional and mental symptoms all the way to chronic physical ailments and conditions, and as I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t necessarily all show up at once.
It takes conscious work to tackle burnout to the ground! And our guide is here to help. The Burnout Guide helps pet business owners implement proper boundaries, learn to say no, and establish systems of self-care in daily life. It includes email templates you can implement into your business along with tips on productivity, self-care, and finances specifically related to burnout prevention and recovery.
If you want to have more time for your own life, if you want your motivation back, if you want to feel free as a business owner, I highly recommend checking this guide out. Because, what if it made all the difference? Burnout is a big one in the pet industry, but it doesn’t have to be. You’ve got this! 💪