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If you’re asking the question, “Am I burnt out?” take that as a sign.
It’s your body calling out. It’s the final warning cry before real damage is done. Take note, and take it from someone who just experienced, and is bouncing back from, burn out: Matt.
We talk about recognizing signs that you’re on the verge of burnout and preventing it, as well as how to bounce back and recover if it’s already happened to you.
Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
- You know you’re either in burnout or heading for it if you’re denying it.
- If you push yourself too far, you’ll be forced to stop.
- If you think you’re in burnout or near it, stop and talk to somebody about it.
- As an entrepreneur, there’s always going to be work.
- You can’t afford not to take a week off.
- You’ll be more productive if you take sabbaticals.
- You schedule the things that are important to you. If you’re not scheduling something, it’s not important.
- With burnout, it’s an ounce of prevention or a pound of cure.
- Losing sleep does more damage than the literal number of hours lost.
- Figure out what balance looks like for you, including investing in relationships.
- 02:29 Matt: I kind of experienced burnout recently. I’m pretty fortunate, because I was reading and hearing about other people’s burnouts, and some people are in burnout for years. That’s a bit much, so I’m pretty fortunate. Hearing their stories, you can’t use this as an excuse or a crutch, but a lot of them blamed where they came from and the people around them. We’ll talk about that.
- 03:23 Sean: Matt, what happened with you? What was the burnout situation?
- 03:38 Matt: It’s kind of hard to say when it all happened. Back in October and September, I said, “Sean, I’m going to take off October, November, and December. It’s going to happen.” Sean said, “Oh, Matt.” I really was wanting to and I planned in my head for this to happen, but I honestly think my mind and body were telling me that they needed a sabbatical.
- 04:09 Sean: It was the warning signals that you ignored?
- 04:11 Matt: Yeah. I said, “No! We’re good! I feel fine, physically. Mentally, I can do this.” Really, I wasn’t. I was exhausted. It probably started in September, because I was pulling all-nighters. I thought I was Superman. I was telling myself that I was Superman. My workload was ridiculous. Not only was I preparing the contracts and the work for my companies, but I was going into the field and working, putting strain on my body.
Mentally and physically, I was burning the candle at both ends and I was killing myself.
- 04:53 I wasn’t sleeping, not because I couldn’t. Whenever I hit the pillow, I was gone, but I wasn’t letting myself get to the pillow. As long as I moved and thought of work, my mind was engaged. I wasn’t spending any time with family and friends, which was another thing. I had been doing that for months before that. As I analyzed what was going on and what happened in the past couple of months, hearing about other people’s stories and what they went through and the signs of burnout, I wish I had spent more time on that. It would have been neat to put together a nice list of signs.
- 05:36 In October and November, I said that I was going to take those months off, and I really wanted to. I believed I was going to. Contracts, for us, usually end in November, and we don’t start back up until February, so we get a little break there. That’s why I said that we would take it off, but I had some new 2016 contracts, that were going to start in January. This is part of the client contracting service business, and the client said, “I’ll throw some extra zeros on there if you can get started ahead of time and get ahead of the curve.” Zeros are nice, especially when they’re on already six figure checks.
- 06:30 He said, “I want to get ahead of the season, so come spring, we’re ready to go.” I had just been running my crew and myself like dogs for months before that, and we were done. I was telling my employees and myself, “Suck it up! We’ve got this!” I kept telling them the story about the app Pandora. The short version is that when Pandora first started, like all startups, they ran out of money after a certain point, and the owner said, “We’re going to keep doing this, but you’re not going to get a paycheck. There’s no telling when you’re going to get a paycheck.”
- 07:44 Everyone stayed and believed in the leader, the owner, that somehow Pandora was going to become something. The majority of them got part time and full time jobs, and still continued doing their regular work. This is unheard of, but the employees figured out a way to continue working for the owner while not getting paid. They did it because they believed in the mission, in the company, and in the owner. That’s pretty awesome.
- 08:40 I gathered all of my employees up, and everyone is exhausted and done. I had been promising them, “We’re going to take all this time off,” and they were all excited. Come October and November, their excitement was fading. Come December, it was bad. I’m really good at pumping my employees up and encouraging them. I tell them stories, but it’s really about the goal. It’s the same with the owner of Pandora, who got his employees to step up and work for free. My employees truly believe in the Lambo Goal, so they said, “We can do this.” We had been pulling all-nighters for multiple days, and it was bad.
- 10:04 Sean: This doesn’t sound like the promised land that they were expecting.
- 10:09 Matt: Come December, we were all done. It was a dark moment.
- 10:17 Sean: I really wanted Matt to go to the conference with me in December.
- 10:21 Matt: I remember that, and that was depressing, because I needed that. I knew that I needed that.
You’re either in burnout or heading for it if you’re denying it—the day I admitted that I was burnt out was when the healing started.
- 10:50 I started getting better. For three to four months, I told myself, “I’m fine! I’m good! This is what I do. I’m an entrepreneur. I have to take this.” I fed myself the right information, but I was twisting it to make myself feel like I was Superman or a robot. We’re not. I was listening to Gary Vaynerchuck’s Monday Motivation, and I told myself, “Everyday is Monday! We have to keep it going!” I was right, partially, but I missed some steps along the way. This is why I like this podcast. It’s a journey where we’ll make mistakes, learn from our mistakes, and we’ll pivot to go the right direction.
- 11:40 It was a really big lesson for me, and it really hurt me. It also hurt my company. I lost some employees from this madness. Eventually, they came back, but it hurt some relationships. It definitely hurt some friends, family, employee, and client relationships, because I was so exhausted that I couldn’t be my cheery self. This is not a show. I’m a true happy extrovert. When I walk in the room, I scream out your name. That’s just what I do. My whole family does that. It sucked, back in December. When you hit this depression burnout stage, I hear that things start going bad, which includes finances and everything else.
Signs You’re on the Verge
- 13:27 For us, our financials were doing great. That’s what I was looking at as motivation to say, “We’re doing good. We’re not in burnout,” even though our backs were broken, our arms were hurting, and we had headaches all day. It was bad. Don’t do this to yourself. Even though I’m on the Lambo Goal show, I listen back to the episodes, and it helped me realize that I was going down a path in the wrong direction that would dump me off a cliff. I was getting to the point where I was questioning why I was being an entrepreneur. I was putting myself in a position where I was working 24/7, and I couldn’t enjoy it because I wouldn’t allow myself to enjoy it.
- 14:40 I was working, but I didn’t give myself some of the benefits that being an entrepreneur gives you, like freedom. As you grow and start being successful, you’ll gain time, money, and great relationships. I wasn’t taking advantage of those things because I thought, “I’m not allowed to touch those things until I hit Lambo Goal.” This was what I was telling myself. If you’re telling yourself the same thing, don’t. Learn from my experience, because you will get burnt out. If you overload a computer, it will get hot and die. I was at that point, and I was ready to crawl under the bed and hide from everybody. As an entrepreneur, there’s always something you have to do, a fire you have to put out.
- 15:53 Sean: When Matt was at the gate this morning asking what the gate code was, at that moment, I was talking to Cory Miller over chat. Laci was asking me something, Cory in the room here was talking to me, Justin was mentioning me in our team chat, Aaron was saying something, Kristiana was saying something, someone in the Community chat was asking something about Supercharge Your Writing, and at that moment I got a notification about a direct message on Twitter. I thought, “What is going on?”
- 16:27 Matt: This is exactly what I’m talking about, what Sean just described.
- 16:32 Sean: It’s like a constant state.
- 16:35 Matt: You have to be mentally prepared for that. Every day, you’re jamming your mind with all this stuff. My phone goes off every second all day and even all night, because I have people overseas. Any entrepreneur, even Sean, gets bombarded with all this stuff. Mentally, that takes a toll on you. Slowly but surely, that’s draining you and breaking your muscles down. Eventually, from what I hear, if you work out consistently without stopping or giving your body the proper breaks it needs, things break.
If you push your body too far, you get injured and it’s the same with work: you have to stop.
- 17:32 When you work out and you break your arm, you have to stop. Being an entrepreneur, when we break an arm, we continue using it and we keep going. When you get to the point where you start breaking bones because you’re trying to work and work and work, that’s a problem.
When the Work Needs to Get Done
- 18:13 Sean: We’ve talked about this before, but last year, I hired pretty fast. That resulted in a significant payroll. Our recurring revenue is not up to payroll, and I know that. We have these spikes throughout the year and it evens out, and the trend is good. I see where things are going, and we are going to get recurring revenue up to payroll. In the meantime, these spikes even things out. It got to this point in May or June of 2015 where our runway was getting pretty short and we needed to do something.
- 18:53 I was hearing different pieces of advice on podcasts and shows, and Matt and I were talking and planning, and this was when I started talking about doing more of what works. What worked for me? Well, I made six figures on Learn Lettering in 2014, so why don’t I do more of that? I produced that course myself, shot my own video, and it was decent, but it wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be. I also had a lot more feedback from people now, because they had gone through the course and talked to me. I wanted to improve it.
- 19:26 We re-shot the whole thing. It was 50 lessons. We added 50% more, which was 25 more lessons. There were 75 total lessons. We launched it again, and we made $177,000 at that launch. That was really good, but we did it in 53 days—not because we wanted to, but because that was where we were, and we had to. Personally, I worked 1,000 hours in those 53 days. I logged it. That took a toll, and not just on me, but on the team, too. It was too much for the team. Do-or-die moment take a physical toll on you.
- 20:17 That’s why, for the next half year, I decided to sleep more, a minimum of seven and a half hours. Normally, I was doing five or six. That’s okay, but not when you’re working 18 or 19 hours. You have to balance it out. That was a big burnout situation for me. It wasn’t that I wanted to be in it, so I wasn’t totally in denial. I knew what I had to do.
- 20:55 Steve in the chat said, “How do you recover from burnout when the work still needs to get done?” In my case, I said, “I know what I have to do if I want to still have a business, so I’ve got to get it done.” Then it was a matter of recovery.
- 21:14 Matt: That’s exactly what I did. I finished out my contracts, and after that, I told my clients that we couldn’t do more ahead of time, no matter how many zeros they added. My life is more important. Get it done, and then start the road to recovery. Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, and it’s not supposed to be easy. It acts as a filter to keep the real entrepreneurs going and to weed out the people who are just dabbling in it because it’s cool right now.
Rest & Recovery
- 21:55 Sean: For me, rest was my way of recovering. Matt, after you hit burnout, what did that recovery process look like for you?
- 22:06 Matt: In January, I finally admitted that I was burnt out. I usually get up in the morning and make coffee, read the New York Times, and I get going. Come December and January, I wasn’t depressed, but I would ask myself, “Why am I doing this?” I’d look up, and I’d see my massive Lambo, and I would remember that that’s what I’m doing this for.
- 22:39 Sean: You have a poster on the wall.
- 22:43 Matt: Part of me said, “Okay, we can do this!” But I wasn’t feeling the fire. I felt the spark, but I didn’t feel the rush of adrenaline to keep going. I can’t remember who’s podcast I was listening to, I want to say Ryan, and he was talking about some deep stuff about how, at some point in his life, he was contemplating suicide. He was in a dark place. He made all this money, but still… It made me think, “Maybe I’m in that place.” I really didn’t know burnout. I told myself that I wasn’t burnt out, I was just tired. I figured out, though, that I wasn’t just tired. I knew where I was going, I had a plan, both short term and long term, we have both our short term and long term finances met, and I have all the things together that I’m supposed to have together.
- 24:04 Why do I feel like this, the spark but no fire? After analyzing it, the first thing I have in my notes is talking to an accountability partner and also a mentor. Once I met with my accountability partner and my mentor, I told them how I was feeling and what was going on prior. They knew about me talking about taking all these months off and never doing it, talking about going on this glorious vacation that I never actually took. They said, “Matt, that’s called burnout.” All this time, I knew what it was, but I kept telling myself that I was just tired.
- 24:49 Sean: It took hearing someone else say it.
- 24:52 Matt: Not only did it take someone else telling me what was going on, but they said, “It’s okay. It happens. It happened to us.” Hearing that from them, I felt at ease, like it was okay to be burnt out.
- 25:15 Sean: Someone who is in the process of burning out is thinking, “Am I burnt out?” If you’re asking the question, “Am I burnt out?” it’s happening. You’re in the process of it, you tend to want to resist it. If you don’t acknowledge it, you feel like it’s not really there. You think, “If I call it burnout, then I’m weak and I’m tired. If I say that it’s not really an issue, then it’s not.”
- 25:46 Matt: You hear our podcast and others, and your family and friends keep saying, “You’re doing so good!” You hear all this positive noise, although there’s always the negative. If you’re going through this emotional and physical burnout or you’re on the verge, you’re thinking, “Am I? Everyone is telling me that I’m doing a good job, but I feel horrible.” That’s when you have to stop.
Whether you’re in burnout or on the way, stop and talk to somebody about it.
- 26:20 Hopefully, at this point, you’ve heard all of our episodes about having an accountability partner and a mentor, and you go to those people. If you don’t have one, find one. Not only are they going to help you in business, but they’ll help you with what we’re talking about today. This is crucial, because this happens.
- 26:41 Sean: In 2014, I was going at it. I listened to shows with people working hard and talking about hustle, just like we do, and I was all about that. 18 hour days are my bread and butter. Just this last weekend, I put in 30 hours. Most people don’t even put 30 real work hours into a week, but that was my weekend! I was doing that because I’m driven, but I recognized that I was heading toward burnout. I saw it happening. The steering wheel was broken off of the car going 80 miles an hour, you can’t do anything, the doors are jammed, and the cliff is coming. You see it, and you see the ocean beyond it, a few hundred feet down.
- 27:36 I saw this, and this is where I had a crazy idea. I had heard this idea of taking a year off, like we talked about in the last episode, and I thought, “That’s nice. Take a year off every seven years. But why don’t we have a Small Scale Sabbatical? Why not take a week off every seven weeks?” We take a day off every seven days, supposedly. I thought I might try it. In September of 2014, I took my first week Small Scale Sabbatical. It coincided with a trip to Colorado with some friends, and it was fun, but it didn’t really feel like a sabbatical. It just felt like I went on a trip.
- 28:26 I had gone on vacations before, and I know what that’s like. The second sabbatical that I took, seven weeks later, I almost didn’t take off. I want to answer Steve’s question here, because he’s saying, “How do you recover from burnout when the work still needs to get done?” Like Matt said, the work always needs to get done. When you do all the work, there’s more. As an entrepreneur, there’s always going to be work. You need to become a master-prioritizer.
- 29:13 I’m coming to this second sabbatical week, and this is where it got real for me. I thought, “Do I really want to take it off? I can’t afford to. There’s too much work to be done. I’m looking at it, and it’s a mountain right in front of me. I can’t do this.” Because I made a public commitment, I was accountable to people. I told them. They all know. I realized that I wouldn’t be a person of my word if I didn’t do this, so I did it anyway. It was super tough, but I got through it. It sounds silly, right? Taking a week off, wouldn’t everyone kill for that? Why is that tough for you?
- 29:50 It’s tough when you’re the boss and you know all the work that needs to be done. I had to power through that second sabbatical week in 2014, but once I did, when the third one came around in January of 2015, I thought, “Oh, yes. Give this to me. This is good.” Every since then, now we’re in 2016, every seventh week I take off a whole week. I realize that with as hard as I work, I cannot afford to keep going that way. I can’t burn the candle at both ends. I can’t run off of fumes. I’m so driven that I have to work 18 hour days.
- 30:37 I want what I want, what I’m going after so much. In a recent episode, we talked about how successful people know what they want (Related: e249 How to Be Successful (And 3 Things You Should Stop Doing Immediately)). They have extreme clarity. They know exactly what they want, and every ounce of their energy is going towards that. Every second of the day, they can’t stop thinking about it—in the shower, falling asleep, waking up in the morning.
- 32:18 I’m thinking about what I want when I go to sleep. I know what I want, and I’m going after it, and that’s what you’re going to find with successful people. They’re driven. There’s no ambiguity or split focus. Every ounce of energy other people are spending on figuring out what to focus on or what to do, I’m spending that energy going forward. I realized that if I’m going to have that much drive, I can’t go 24/7, 365, because I’ll run myself into the ground. I’m an all-on or an all-off kind of person, so I had to go all in on the break. If I’m going to protect myself, I have to go all in on a break, and that’s where the sabbatical idea came from. If I’m going to take a break, I’m going to be off completely.
- 33:14 I’ve done this for going on two years now, and I wanted people to understand both sides of the narrative. They see and they hear about the hustle and the hard work. There are a lot of people out there who advocate the hustle, and they live it. You see it, but you don’t always see the time off. You don’t see the relaxation and the sleep, or you don’t see the lack of that and the damage it does. You only see part of it. I didn’t want that to be the case for me. I wanted people to see both sides, that yes, I work this hard, but I can only do what I do because I also take a week off.
- 33:57 You can’t say, “Man, I don’t work as hard as Sean. I guess I should push myself to work that hard.” You also don’t rest as hard as me.
I take my rest and my work more seriously than you do, and that’s why I can accomplish what I do.
- 34:10 Matt: That’s so important. Everybody’s just showing their hustle, so everybody thinks that it’s hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle. There’s a part in there where they’re resting hard, too. They have some time in there to rest or work out, to get their body and mind ready to work hard. I like what Sean was saying about how he feels like he has to work 18 hours. He’s sprinting for 18 hours, and by doing that, he has to rest even longer. He needs a week, not just a weekend, because he’s pushing himself so hard.
- 34:58 I’ve met people who are a little bit more passive, who don’t work as hard. They work their eight or nine hours and then they’re done for the day. That’s fine, too, but I don’t know if you need a full week’s rest. A weekend is good enough for you. If you’re anything like Sean and me and you’re pushing yourself like that, you have to take time to rest.
- 35:33 Sean: I’m pretty sure that, with our schedule, this episode will come out after the sabbatical. If people are listening to this, there was a week break where there was no podcast, and that’s because the whole network takes a week off. I’ve told this story in various places, but because this episode is focused on this topic, I want to mention that when I started doing Small Scale Sabbaticals, it was just me. September 2014, it was just me. No employees, no team. When I started hiring people for the team, I thought, “How am I going to make sure they keep working while I’m on my week off?”
- 36:18 Then I thought, “Wait a minute! Do I believe in the sabbatical concept, or do I not? I do believe in it.” I think we’re more productive with that time off. I think that, in the six weeks that we’re on, we do more. We get more done than most people do in the seven weeks, because there’s no deadline. There’s no, “Alright, you have to get your stuff done, because we’re taking the week off.” There’s no end in sight, no light at the end of the tunnel.
Our team doesn’t just make up for taking a week off every seven weeks, but we are more productive because of our sabbaticals.
- 36:56 Everyone I hire is getting a paid week off every seventh week. Every seven weeks, you get the whole week off. We all do it at the same time, and you’re paid to do it, because I think it’s important.
- 37:08 Matt: You don’t think of it as you hustling and working because you have to get this stuff done.
- 37:15 Sean: It’s like a weekend. I keep coming back to Steve’s question because I relate to it so much. The work always needs to get done. This idea of taking a week off was very difficult for me in the beginning because I felt like I couldn’t afford to take a week off. That’s true. Do you know what’s also true? You can’t afford not to take a week off. What do you do with those two true facts that are contradictory? If someone on Friday says, “I need to meet you for an important business meeting,” and it’s 4:30pm as you’re driving to your last meeting of the day, you’ve got a dinner, and you’ve got family over the weekend, you would say, “Alright. First thing Monday morning, let’s get on this.” It’s important.
- 38:11 Do you see what happened there? You have this hard edge, where you go, “It’s the weekend. My next business hours are Monday at 8am.” If it’s important, it’s first thing on Monday. You do that with the weekend without even thinking. You already do what I’m talking about, so you just need to scale your mindset. When people say, “Hey, we need to do this. It’s really important. We’ve got all these work and all these projects,” I say, “You’re right. That is important. I would do it tomorrow, but we’ve got some shows scheduled, I’m working on a course, and I have to send out some emails. I have a sabbatical next week, so the day after that, let’s get on this.” It’s the same exact thing.
- 38:56 Matt: I think it takes some practice to get to that point. Even now, I find myself wanting to book stuff on Saturday. I have to say, “Wait, I can’t meet Saturday. I have family/friends coming into town.” Sometimes, I think I can squeeze them in, but it’s like you said, Sean.
What’s Important to You?
- 39:19 Sean: You schedule the things that are important to you. I’ve got a lot of work right now, and it’s crunch time for us. I’m putting in a lot of work, and it’s my anniversary this Sunday. This will go out weeks from now, so it will have past, but I’ve been married for six years now. That’s good, Matt. We’re very happy. When I’m with Laci, I schedule time (Related: e013 Communicating and Spending Heart Time With Your Spouse). I make sure to give her time, and when we’re doing our thing, going on a date, going to a movie, out to coffee, on a trip, or out to dinner, I’m all in on her. I’m focused on her.
- 40:32 I’m focused on the conversation. I’m not on my phone. If something’s important, I say, “Hey, can I take two minutes and respond to this?” I ask permission and try not to be buried in my phone, distracted. Laci was kind of joking, but there’s always some seriousness to it, when she made some passing comment about her friend talking about spending her day off with her husband. She said, “I can’t even imagine a whole day.” She was being a little bit silly. We have focused time. What would we even do? She couldn’t even imagine a full 24 hours. That’s sad. I said, “Our anniversary will be our day together.” I don’t care if we spend half the day figuring out what we want to do, but we have the whole day.
- 41:32 She said, “You have so much work! You told me that you have 18 lessons to write, and you didn’t do them over the weekend because you had this other thing where you wrote tens of thousands of words, and that needs to be done two days from now. You’re trying to do Part 1 then and the next one over the next week…” She knows all this stuff. She said, “You can’t do it.” I said, “This is important to me. I don’t want you to worry about what’s on my plate. I’ve always got stuff on my plate. This is important to me, and this is what we’re doing. We’re taking this time.”
- 42:12 Last night, I had a lot of work. I did my normal work, my eight or nine hours, and now we do the real work, the projects. I had a lot to do. It was 5pm, so I thought, “Okay, I have four or five hours I can get in here.” Rather than push through and grind out four more hours of the leftover work of the day, the leftover focus, and eating dinner at my desk, I told Laci, “Let’s go out to eat.” She said, “No, you’re busy. You have work.” I said, “It’s alright.” I know that coming back after that, maybe I’ll only have an hour or two left, but it’s going to be more focused time.
Getting time away charges me up for the time that I’m in work mode.
- 43:37 You don’t have time for a break, that’s what you think right now, but you also don’t have time for burnout. Do you have time to just be laid out right now for the next month or year because you’re just done? You don’t have time for that. It was the same way with me and exercise. That’s why I was talking to Matt about keeping me accountable. Yeah, I’m young. I’m doing alright. I’m prioritizing work and not prioritizing health, but I know that’s not good. I know that I can keep burning the candle at both ends, but I’m heading towards burnout. I know the direction.
- 44:19 There are different forms of burnout. In this case, it would be some kind of health burnout, and who knows what that looks like. It’s not good to not be active, so I know that I need to take this seriously. I need to have an ounce of prevention instead of a pound of cure. That’s the overarching theme of this episode. It’s about prevention. If you’re asking yourself, you’re really close to being too late. That’s a sign. “Am I burnt out?”
- 44:54 Matt: If you’re asking yourself, you’re at the edge.
- 44:58 Sean: It’s really good that you’re asking yourself, because that’s your body telling you, “This is your chance to save yourself right now.” Start going into prevention mode and make sure that you don’t hit burnout.
- 45:13 Matt: Now that I’m out, I think, “Man, if I had just done the maintenance, the basic things.” That includes going out, exercising, eating healthier, and spending time with family and friends—down time. We’re always joking about Netflix, but fill that down time with whatever you feel like it needs to be filled with. I got to take my son and my wife to the aquarium the other day. I took a random day and said, “We’re going to do some recharge time.” Shera said, “What does that mean? Are we going to watch Netflix?” I said, “No Netflix. I talk bad about that on the podcast.”
- 46:14 Sean: We watch one TV show every single day while we eat dinner. We have an evening meal, so since we have to do that anyway, we just watch a 30 minute show during that time. There’s nothing wrong with Netflix.
- 46:39 Matt: I just like to pick on it. We went to the aquarium and had some down time, touching sting rays and sharks. It was fun. We got to laugh and talk, and we talked about random things we would never have talked about over dinner. That’s just not long enough. If we had been watching a show, forget it. I love focusing on the show. Watching a show is like reading a book to me—there’s no talking. Going to the aquarium, we got to talk about the business, but also personal stuff. We talked about what Shera wanted, what Tobin needed, family, and friends. Those are deeper conversations, personal things that need to be talked about.
- 47:39 Sean: Last night, instead of getting on my phone, because I’ll usually read or something before getting into bed and Laci will be on Pinterest, Facebook, or reading books, instead, I said, “What does your ideal day look like?” She went through this list, and I said, “No, no. That sounds like it’s based on what you have to do today, now. Start all over, from the beginning. What would you want to do, ideally?” She spent 20 minutes describing it, and maybe we’re not there now, but when was the last time you had that conversation with your spouse? When you have a small idea of that, maybe you could every once in a while, structure your day around helping them get there.
When you know what your spouse wants, do what you can to give them a little piece of that.
- 48:40 Matt: That’s fulfilling. Taking Shera and my son to the aquarium, it was great just to see their faces. He was having a blast throwing food at the fish. He says, “A shark!” He was happy, and she was happy and relieved to not be bogged down with the stresses of a normal day. Afterwards, I thought about all the things I didn’t get done, and I was beating myself down. I took a moment and said, “No.” The moment is more important to me. Lots of times, I say, “I should invite Sean out for coffee,” but then I think, “No, he’s busy and I’m busy.” If we had taken that time together to go, we would have both benefited in a different way.
- 49:38 The refreshing feeling that you get out of it, the satisfaction, is so much better than putting in that leftover time to work. Don’t just grind through it when your production level and your quality level isn’t going to be there. Instead, take that time to step away a little bit, and it does something to you. That’s something crucial that entrepreneurs who are truly grinding don’t do enough.
- 50:23 Here’s a quote my mentor gave me when he was telling me to stop. It made me think of you, Sean, because it has to do with debt. He said, “Sleep is like money. Lack of sleep is like going into debt. You’ve accumulated so much debt that you’ve got to work on paying it off.” If I lost 100 hours of sleep, that means I have to pay 100 hours of sleep. Plus, there’s always interest, so you have to pay more than that. Once I did that, I felt so much better.
- 51:16 Sean: To build on the analogy, there’s irreparable damage when you go without sleep. If you eat away at your sleep and say, “Oh, I’m going to sleep four hours instead of eight hours,” you can’t just sleep in four more hours on Saturday and you’re good. There was some damage. You’re not par, evened out. It’s like the interest bit that Matt was talking about. Losing sleep does more damage than the literal number of hours lost, just like debt. “I’ll borrow $10,000 now and pay it back in a year.” There is interest, but there’s stress that comes along with carrying that debt, and that wears on you. There are other costs.
- 52:10 Matt: It’s exactly the same as money. You borrow money, and you have to stress paying it off and paying off the interest. It’s the same way with sleep. You don’t put in the time to sleep, and there’s that stress there. You have to eventually pay it back, because if you don’t pay it back, eventually your body will shut down.
Business & Life Balance
- 52:48 If you’re on the verge of burnout, there are some steps I put together that you want to go through, and we’ll come back to that. If you’re not quite in burnout or you’re coming out of it, you’re in recovery, you need balance. Once you get all better, it’s about keeping up with maintenance. It’s about keeping up the balance. We’ve done a lot of great shows on this podcast, on delegating for example, about how to help put that balance into place (Related: e045 The Power of Delegation).
- 53:21 Sean: What are you trying to balance? What things?
- 53:25 Matt: Being an entrepreneur, not only do we have to balance our business, but we forget about our personal life. I think it’s crucial to figure out that balance, because we have tons of stuff to get done. We have to figure out how to do all this stuff without losing our heads every few months. We have to keep up with the runway and the different projects we’re working on. Figure out how to get things done and still have a balance. That might be investing in employees or software systems to help your projects be more efficient.
- 54:07 Once you do that, that will help with the business part of it. Personally, you’re going to want to help keep up your mental, physical, relational, and personal time. A lot of people, including me, neglect the mental and physical aspects of this. I thought, “This doesn’t matter. I’m Superman and I’m going to get it done. I’m an entrepreneur!” I didn’t think about how if you don’t work out a muscle, it will eventually go flabby, and you might end up breaking a bone. I was telling Sean earlier that I didn’t go to yoga. Now that I’ve been exercising and eating better, I feel so much better. I don’t have headaches because I’m getting rest. I have energy, I’m motivated, and I feel the fire, not just the spark. My relationships are there, they’re built up, because I’ve put in the time.
- 55:21 Sean: After you’ve gone through this and come out of it, what are you doing now or planning for the future to make sure it doesn’t happen again? How are you working to prevent burnout in the future?
Figure out what balance looks like for you, including investing in relationships.
- 55:46 Matt: Not only are you going to be helping build relationships with your wife, your family, your kids, and the people around you, but it’s also going to give you that time to refresh, re-energize, and recharge. You have to step away from all the noise of our businesses, all the communication and problems that come with business. This is a great time to help your body and your mind recharge. Come Monday morning, you’re ready to hit the ground running. I like how Sean said that if someone wanted to schedule a meeting on Saturday, that rest time is a priority. No problem—Monday morning, you can get right to it.
- 56:26 That’s better than telling yourself, “We have to get it done on Saturday. There’s no time.” No, there is time. Without you taking that time off, you won’t get very far.
- 56:39 Sean: It’s like my thing with long term investment. I tend to be really long term oriented by default, but if I don’t keep an eye on the short term, I may not be around to enjoy the benefits and the return of the long term investments.
- 57:10 Matt: There are different things I think of now that I didn’t back then. I think, “Man, if I had just done the stuff to take care of the short term!” In the long term, we’re getting ready to go on a cruise, to do sabbaticals. Separate your short term and long term, and that goes under balance. You need to do short term things now to help with your balance, but also have long term plans to keep that balance in place so you don’t get to burnout and you keep growing and getting better.
- 58:11 I thought I was sick because I was so tired and I had headaches. The first thing prescribed to me wasn’t medication, and it was the one thing I had been neglecting for months. It was sleep. The doctor said, “Sleep. Just rest.” So, that’s what I did. I took a couple of days off. Sleep, Netflix, Game of Thrones. The doctor said, “Be normal.”