Promote yourself, give yourself a “sexy brand”, talk about your organization and tell your “story” at every party and gathering you go to. That’s the advice that I was given at the start of my entrepreneurial journey.
When you’re a social entrepreneur, everyone wants to know how you started, and what you’re about. You do the interviews, the podcasts. You make the Facebook and LinkedIn posts that lowkey make you cringe, but you still press “post”. I get it. I did that too for the last decade.
But then it started to weigh on me. This self promotion felt empty, lonely, and stopped making me happy, satisfied or fulfilled.
I was taking a walk one day with my sister in Central Park and she asked me a seemingly simple question – “Who are you outside of Sundara?”
I couldn’t answer. No words sputtered out. I was oddly offended she would even ask me that! I didn’t answer but I couldn’t forget that she had asked.
My identity for the last 7 years WAS this organization. It had been kind of a crutch, both personally and professionally. I worked myself to the bone, doing the whole “grind culture” thing that entrepreneurs are supposed to do. It’s funny how work is a socially acceptable way to numb out and escape from things we don’t want to feel and admit…
My life might have looked good to others but inside I felt that I was falling apart and had no semblance of balance. I worked 16 and 17 hour days, barely sleeping 4 hours each night. I didn’t get an annual physical for 3 years. I didn’t date anyone seriously for 4 years. I didn’t save money. I didn’t show up for friends’ birthday parties and eventually the invitations stopped coming. My engagement ended. Heck, I wasn’t even a very good dog owner.
I felt like I was just barely holding it together. But I continued on. Resilience is what every “good” entrepreneur needs, right? I was sacrificing more and more for this organization to benefit my ego and the lines between where I stopped and the organization began felt really blurry.
Two months into the pandemic I realized that I needed to make big changes. We lost 75% of our funding in 3 weeks and had to shut down many of our centers. This huge professional loss was unavoidable, but the professional “failure” (which is how I labeled it) felt like a deeply personal one. If I was a better leader, if I had raised more money, if I had hired a better team, maybe we wouldn’t be in this position.
All the feelings of not being enough, not being a doctor, not going to an Ivy League school, not being exactly the vision (I thought) my Jewish parents had for me, came bubbling up to the surface and in the sudden space that I was given from work, I had a lot of time to hear these negative voices.
It made me depressed. For months I didn’t do a whole heck of a lot. Sure, I was running an organization but my mind was elsewhere. I’d be on Zoom calls, trying to find 10% off Wayfair coupons in the background. I was there, but I wasn’t really present. I would take weeks to respond to speaking opportunities, podcast requests and offers of funding. I didn’t understand the person I had become – now dragging my feet at opportunities I once dreamed of.
The journey out of burnout for me has been long and grueling at times. I’m not here to lie to you and tell you it’s going to be easy, but I do want to work with you to find a plan to get you to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
One of the quotes I’ve often thought of in my journey is “work won’t love you back”. And it’s true.
Raising the next round or getting the speaking gig leads to a momentary feeling of happiness that lasts a few days or weeks at the most. Then we quickly hit a baseline, back on the hedonic treadmill hungry for more, more, more.
I remember so badly wanting to be recognized as a “Forbes 30 Under 30” for a year and a half. When I finally got the email that I had gotten the award (with my name spelled wrong), it felt empty and impersonal, and the joy I thought I would feel was instantly replaced with loneliness and confusion. Why did I strive for this? What did I think it would bring me?
So, I’ve been in your shoes. And I’m here to help.
Work with me and I will coach you through this challenging time, creating a new narrative for yourself and future possibilities that excite you, not ones that fill you with dread. We will dive into your personal history and understand your why. We will work on a range of evaluations so you can get a clearer understanding of what makes you feel fulfilled and satisfied. After our sessions together you’ll leave with tried and true ways to take care of yourself when you’re veering towards burnout.
Does this sound like something you want? Sign up for a free call today.