Avoiding Burn-out

Posted on August 14, 2012 by

Photo credit Carey Schumacher

I’ve written a lot over the last few years about recognizing the signs of burn-out and knowing when it’s time to simply take a break. It’s easy to write about, but not quite as obvious when it was happening to me personally. In fact, I didn’t realize I needed a break until I actually took one!

I refer to Summer School as the most fun I don’t want to do for another year, because it involves so many different challenges. This year’s program was pretty much voted as the best one yet. We changed the format with more hands-on. Thanks to several attendees and instructors, there was always something going on well into the evening every day and even prior to the workshop starting. There was more support for professional photographers than we’ve ever offered, but at the same time there was more to worry about.

Leading up to Summer School, I really failed to see the signs of a little approaching burn-out and the need to take a break:

1) I couldn’t shut it off… Whether awake or asleep it was on my mind all the time. I found myself preoccupied with worrying about what could go wrong rather than all the components to make sure everything went right.
2) I found myself unusually tired and rarely slept well.
3) Procrastination seemed to trump just about everything and I found myself waiting until the last minute to do things.
4) My creative juices just weren’t flowing the way they normally do.

Summer School ended and I was left with the business version of postpartum depression. It was over, the “baby” was delivered successfully and it was time to start it all over again. Fortunately, we had a break planned, but it was completely accidental.

Sheila and I headed to our home-town for a high school reunion and took five days off – really off. I barely did a tweet…I let Skip’s Photo Network just sit with the last blog post and everything work related was put on the back burner. We spent the weekend staying with good friends and here’s where I finally get to the point this morning. We all forget the value of great friends and the importance of just shutting off business now and then. I kept my eye on email and the phone, but that was it.

I remember Dane Sanders saying “You are NOT your business!” I also remember thinking he so didn’t understand! LOL Even as Scott Bourne talked about passion, at Summer School in the best program I’ve ever heard him do, I was oblivious to the fact that I forgot about my non-business passions. What’s so absurd is the fact that I built Summer School on a premise of photographers needing a mid-year stretch to recharge their battery, but then forgot to apply the concept to myself.

So, don’t let burn-out take away all the hard work you’re doing to build your business and your reputation. Walk away when you need it. Take the time to enjoy friends and family, your hobbies and pursue those things that make you smile.

For me it turned out to be “Hoss” and Melissa who have no idea what their friendship means to us. It was their incredible hospitality and more laugh time than I can ever remember to help me recharge. All of you know how to focus on your subjects and your business, but don’t forget to focus on the person looking back at you in the mirror each morning.

Posted in: Advice