5 Ways to Get Motivated When You’re Burnt Out

Stressed businessman working late in office
Photograph by Chris Ryan — Getty Images

The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “How do you stay inspired to run a business?” is written by Andy Lark, CMO of Xero.

No matter who you are, there are points in your career when it can be difficult to stay motivated and inspired. However, a shortage of motivation doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to throw in the towel. Rather, making a few simple—but powerful—changes to your day to day could be just what you need to get your mojo back.

  1. Spend time “on” the business instead of “in” the business

Early on in my career, one of the businesses I founded quickly became very overwhelming. We were working 21-hour days seven days a week. It was crazy and exciting, but six months in, it was borderline hallucinogenic.

Even the most rudimentary admin issues felt catastrophic. Continuing would have either broken the business or broken us as a team. We stopped working for five days, banning all but the most critical of communications. It allowed the team to get some distance and perspective, and the effect was incredible. Sometimes you’ve got to unbalance to rebalance. As soon as you create that space, you can renew your passion for the purpose of the business.

Chances are you didn’t get into your line of work to get caught in the perils of the daily grind. If running a business is starting to feel like Groundhog Day, it’s time to take a step back and spend some time out of the operation so you can work on the business.

Taking the time to refine your business’s strategy, streamlining teams, coming up with new ideas, and working on your company’s future can help restore your drive to lead the company to the next level.

See also: The Easy Way to Stay Inspired at Work

  1. Put purpose at the center of everything

Business leaders need to really understand their purpose or reason for being in business. Once you’ve got a grasp on your business’s true reason for existence, it needs to be at the center of everything you do. It should become the framework that guides your priorities and daily decisions.

At Xero, our purpose is to help small businesses thrive. Around the world, small businesses combine to account for the majority of GDP contributions and are the largest source of employment. By helping small businesses operate more efficiently and grow, entire economies benefit. And if we do our job properly, we help small businesses all around the world. Helping our employees understand that completely changes what we prioritize and how we execute our strategy.

  1. Get in front of customers—they are the greatest source of inspiration

If you’re ever short on inspiration or unclear of what your purpose is, the first thing you should do is get in touch with your customers. You can learn so much from their experiences with your product or service. For me, it’s getting out and talking to accountants, chatting to small business owners, and meeting with our add-on partners.

Each has a different experience with our small-business platform, so it’s important to understand how it makes their lives easier, figure out what delights them, and uncover the areas that we can improve on.


  1. Automate or outsource all tasks that don’t inspire

Trim all that taxes. Axing mundane tasks that don’t inspire gives you back precious time, helping to make room for the things that you enjoy doing.

For many small business owners, it’s the financial and administration sides of the business that weighs them down. By enlisting the help of a great bookkeeper or accountant and using a virtual assistant service, you can free yourself from the boring stuff and get back to doing the parts that you love.

  1. Learn how to say no

Practice saying no every single day. Saying no to some tasks is an incredibly liberating feeling. It may sound simple, but it can be a tough strategy to execute on.

I once had a major customer who appointed a new leader to work with my young agency. This individual took great sport in harassing employees and setting unrealistic goals for non-critical work. And while billings were great, morale was tanking.

We made the tough decision to say no to working with this client. It was a massive business risk and we spent the next six months working on filling the revenue gap. Saying no when things aren’t aligning with your purpose—in this case, ours was building teams that thrived—will be hard, but it could end up being the best investment for your team.

By being strict with your time, sticking to your principles, and focusing on your purpose, you’ll find saying no to opportunities that don’t align much easier, and your business will benefit from it.


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