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How I Overcame Career Burnout and Built a Happier, More Productive Life

4 Mins read

At some point in the early stages of my career, I found myself trapped in what many today call the “hustle culture.” I was running low on energy, constantly battling deadlines, and my personal relationships were hanging by a thread. As the founder and former CEO of Home Care Pulse, my days were filled with endless tasks, meetings, and responsibilities.

In 2018, I made a life-changing decision: I stepped down as CEO, shifted my focus to personal interests like building hobbies, and began to regain a happier, more productive life.

My journey is nothing special, but the lessons I learned along the way have molded me into a more successful man with a more harmonious life today. I wrote about these strategies in my best-selling book, EntreThrive, and I want to share those lessons with you in this piece.

The Reality of Career Burnout

Chronic stress and fatigue were my constant companions for a long time. It was normal for me to sleep a maximum of 4 hours and to feel like I needed to rush everything all at once. The constant push to work harder and longer hours eventually took a toll on my physical and mental health. I was mentally and physically exhausted, and my ability to function effectively was significantly diminished.

My excessive focus on work led me to neglect my personal relationships with family and friends. I felt isolated and lonely. Socialization times felt weird for me. I even lacked the social support that was crucial for my mental well-being. While I was satisfied with business-related duties, my career success came at the expense of my personal happiness. Needless to say, my personal relationships suffered. Looking back, I suffered through the gravity of my lapse of judgment.

I know there are still entrepreneurs out there walking the same path I took before. A recent survey shows that 72% of founders, especially of startup businesses, struggle with mental health, and 36% experience burnout. This intense pressure to continuously hustle is the same exact pressure that sapped my intrinsic motivation. Work began to feel like a never-ending cycle, and the joy I once found in my professional pursuits started to fade away.

Rebuilding a Happier, More Productive Life

The modern-day emphasis on hustle culture can have detrimental effects on those seeking longevity in their careers.

One of the first steps that worked for me to save myself from completely drowning was engaging in enjoyable activities that brought me relaxation, like cycling. I kicked it off with my first LoToJa race, and I even bought my first road bike on the same day I registered! I joined groups of endurance cyclists, and again, it felt weird, only this time it was satisfyingly weird — I was happy. Whatever you engage your life in, however you spend your days, don’t forget to make time for hobbies and interests.

Moreover, establishing a healthy daily routine goes a long way. Start with the basics, such as adequate sleep, healthy eating habits, and regular exercise to maintain physical and mental health. These basics, often overlooked in the hustle culture, proved vital in my journey toward a balanced life.

A New Perspective on Success

While the definition of success varies, my experience taught me that it isn’t solely defined by professional achievements or financial gains. For me, true success encompasses personal well-being, meaningful relationships, and a sense of fulfillment. I found a path to a happier, more productive life by addressing the root causes of my burnout and making intentional changes that I committed myself to.

For entrepreneurs and business leaders like me who aim to achieve this harmony, a balanced approach to work and life is truly a game-changer for long-term success and happiness.

  • Set Boundaries: I know it’s easier said than done, but if you practice sticking to your work hours, you’ll eventually avoid the temptation to blur the lines between work and personal time.
  • Delegate Tasks: Train and trust your team so you can assign tasks that don’t require your direct involvement. Give them tasks that drain your energy but they might grow from or like to do. This empowers them and frees up your time at the same time, which can be spent on strategic thinking and personal growth.
  • Practice Mindfulness: Incorporate mindfulness practices, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, to reduce stress and improve focus. Last year I attended a three-day meditation course, to help me utilize this powerful practice better.

Redefine your goals and shift your focus from solely pursuing professional milestones to incorporating personal aspirations. This holistic approach allowed me to experience a more rewarding life, which I also wish for you to have. As they say, “Been there, done that.”

Aligning Your Personal and Professional Life

Overcoming career burnout and building a happier, more productive life is a journey that requires intentional changes and a commitment to prioritizing well-being.

For entrepreneurs and business leaders, it’s essential to recognize the negative impact of the hustle culture and strive for a harmonious approach that nurtures both professional and personal growth. Set your boundaries and learn to say “no.” Success is not linear; it doesn’t revolve solely around money and achievements. A life that brings you joy, purpose, and lasting satisfaction is as much of a success as logistics and excellent business strategies.

If you’re overwhelmed by your business’s demands, take a step back and reassess your priorities. Implement these strategies and do your best to align your activities that can support your personal and professional well-being simultaneously. We can thrive in both areas, at the same time.  Your future self will thank you for it.

Aaron Marcum, founder of Breakaway Home Care Accelerator. After exiting Home Care Pulse in 2002, Aaron became an investor, taking an ownership stake in a thriving home care agency, while also becoming an executive coach, specializing in the home care space. Due to his passion for helping home care entrepreneurs find personal and professional thriving, Aaron applied and was accepted into the prestigious Master in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), where he studied under the top psychologist of the past decade, Dr. Martin Seligman, also known as the father of positive psychology. It was through this life-changing program Aaron discovered his calling to help home care entrepreneurs grow their thinking, keep their best people, accelerate their growth, and transform their personal and professional lives. Recently, Aaron finished his #1 Amazon Best Selling book, “EntreThrive – The Entrepreneurs Eight Laws to Accelerate Financial Freedom While Creating The Good Life.”

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