Balancing act: How entrepreneurs can excel without burning out
Mita Srinivasan
10X People

Balancing act: How entrepreneurs can excel without burning out

In this contributed article, Rachel Godfrey, Co-founder, Chase Life Consulting, highlights the focus on practical strategies for entrepreneurs striving to maintain a healthy balance between their professional and personal lives.

Here’s a scenario as an entrepreneur you’re bound to recognise. A prestigious project has come in for your company and it’s going to be all hands on deck. The contract is a huge win and if you and your team can just get it right, the rewards moving forward could be massive.

So, as the owner of the business you lead by example. You work every waking hour, right into the evening. You eat, drink, and sleep the project – everything else goes out of the window. “Just for now” – you tell yourself, adding: “This is the last time. I just need to get through this period.”

You go all in for this ‘work campaign’ and by the end – successful or not – you feel utterly drained and wondering what happened to the rest of your life. Fitness? Forget it. Relationships? People still love you of course, but they’ve got used to you not being around.

So, what do you do? You book an extravagant holiday and disappear for a few weeks – aka an ‘unplugging campaign.’

Or perhaps you dedicate your time to getting your health and mental wellbeing back on track. You hit the gym each morning as you start yet another 8-week transformation, hire a personal trainer, and maybe start a hardcore keto diet – you’re going ‘all in’ (again).

But guess what, now your business has started to suffer.

And round and round this cycle goes. Your health, your mental energy, your relationships, and your self-respect getting worse and worse with each ‘campaign’ as you constantly try to redress the balance and tackle things that are getting neglected.

If this sounds like you, don’t beat yourself up – it’s extremely common. Most business owners we work with still believe the only way to solve problems, complete projects, be creative and be successful is to ‘go big or go home’ – and they apply that mantra to everything they do. It’s frankly exhausting for all concerned.

That’s why the results of a recent ZipDo survey are not surprising, showing that one in three entrepreneurs struggle with depression and burnout. Most tellingly – and illustrating just how pernicious the campaign lifestyle has become – 95% said they don’t know how to achieve a healthy work-life balance.

So, why is that?

When we consult with successful business owners, they regularly talk about just how high the pressure of running a business is – they feel everything rests on their shoulders, so they blur the lines between sustainable high productivity and working flat out today at the expense of tomorrow.

Then if you add things like perfectionism, people pleasing, overthinking and self-judgement on top of that – not to mention the feeling of inferiority when others around you seem to be thriving in their industry (and I use the word ‘seem’ advisedly) – then you’ve got a recipe for emotional and physical disaster.

But achieving work-life balance is not only possible but essential for long-term success and well-being. You can break free from the campaign lifestyle. In fact, it’s a must if you want a happy life and a thriving business.

Here’s how to do it.

Begin by clarifying (perhaps write down) the key areas of your life that matter most. These could include career or vocation, finance, autonomy and time for yourself, relationships (family, kids, spouse, friends), health and fitness, spirituality, or personal growth.

Then identify the minimal effective dose in each. Simply put, the lowest dose level or amount of time that yields a benefit. Then turn minimal effective dose into non-negotiable personal standards that you never drop below, no matter how busy work gets.

Next, prioritise self-care. Allocate time daily for activities that rejuvenate your mind and body, such as meditation, exercise, or hobbies – treat self-care as an essential meeting in your calendar.

Improve your delegation, leadership, and boundaries – remember you don't have to do it all! Trust your team, empower them, and distribute responsibilities. This not only reduces your workload but also fosters a sense of ownership among your employees.

Define your work hours and stick to them as closely as possible. Create a designated workspace and leave it behind at the end of the day. This separation helps maintain a boundary between work and personal life.

Seek support and guidance if it all still gets too much. You don’t need to quit! Reach out to a business coach, or mentor. It can feel really isolating as a high achiever and entrepreneur, but they can provide valuable insights and strategies for managing stress and finding balance amidst the chaos.

Learn how to handle uncertainty and switch your brain off. If you can disconnect from work at will, then a powerful physiological effect kicks in – your brain begins to tidy up the neural networks, making your thinking faster, clearer, and more efficient.

To be effective with all the above you’ll need to learn to say ‘no’ without guilt. It’s amazing how hard this is for some people – but it’s immensely liberating once you start.

Remember, achieving work-life balance is an ongoing process. Regularly reassess your priorities and adjust as needed. By taking these steps, you not only avoid burnout but also thrive in your entrepreneurial journey.

And guess what, ironically, it’s often when entrepreneurs find the peace of true balance in their lives that they suddenly have those ‘lightbulb moment’ ideas that can skyrocket their business.

About the author

Rachel Godfrey, Health and Performance Consultant, and Co-founder of Chase Life Consulting, has over 18 years of experience building multiple health and performance consulting businesses. Her direct, disruptive, experienced approach to health, personal growth, and peak performance has made her the mentor of choice for senior executives and entrepreneurs who want to manage their wellbeing and success.