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Do you want to be successful AND stress free? I don’t blame you — everyone craves the combination. Achieving it, however, is about dedication of time into two separate categories: working hard, and hardly working. Now, as with most things in life, the mastery comes within balance, and following through on your word — even if it’s just to yourself.

The life of a successful businessman or businesswoman generally runs with a lot of responsibility, and with great responsibility comes great power — if you can manage the weight of it all. If you’re like me, you don’t have an “Off Button” when it comes to work, and though that can be great initially, eventually it will lead to the phenomenon we all fear — burnout. There are four stages to burnout that I am going to talk about, and they are as follows:

  1. Honeymoon phase. We take on a project, large or small, and we court it like our lives depend on it — immediately dedicating most of our time and thought to it. We get great responses from our output of work, thus confirming that we are “doing it right”.
  2. Stress Begins. Suddenly, things stop running so smoothly. There are still good days, but the pressure of consistent over-working creeps into your physical, mental, and/or emotional well-being. Though you feel like you are working hard, not as much may be getting done.
  3. Stress solidifies. Now it has become your natural state. You may experience irritability frequently, feeling over-pressured and out of control, have started taking on self-destructive hobbies to help you detach from your stressors, or even withdraw from those closest to you. Everything negative you have felt in the prior stage has multiplied.
  4. Burnout. We’ve reached it. We can no longer continue going the way we are going, so we decide to make drastic changes. We may experience physical problems, and we may quit whatever we’ve been working so feverishly on at the drop of a hat. Pessimism has become the norm, and so has self doubt. Then guilt becomes the monster in the closet, and it overtakes our being until we find a new project to start on, and repeat this whole process.

So, how do we avoid this? A common denominator in this process is often we forget to have fun. You can work hard your entire life, but what has that all built up to if you refuse to give yourself the breaks you need? Finding a balance of dedication to work for your future life, and dedication of enjoyment to your current life is really the cure-all when it comes to burnout. Find something you love to do, and set aside some time to actually do it at least once a month. It can be an extravagant thing if circumstances permit, or something as simple as a couple of days out golfing. You can even choose a multitude of things, or a new thing every time you decide to break! Just don’t do it more than the total of the weekends we get in a month. Remember: balance.

From personal experience, when I take the time to take time off (and this truly means no working while you are doing this — unless it is an emergency, or something simple like answering a question) I come back to work feeling fully rejuvenated, and mind bubbling with new insights to push forward whatever project I am working on. It feels like I have pressed the “Reset Button”, and the person that has come back online always has an incredible capability to overcome any obstacles that may have been viewed as a problem prior. If you want to push forward in your work, whatever field it may be in, always remember that life is about enjoying the journey to your destination, so that by the time you get there, you will have a solid foundation to maintain it.

- Errol G.

Errol Gorman is the C.E.O. of Ginisis Group Inc., an administrative support, acquisition and software engineering firm

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