Passion Can Lead to Entrepreneurial Burnout, One Survey Says

man resting his head on wall

Ask any entrepreneur, and they will likely tell someone that they need passion to succeed. In fact, for others, it’s the only value one needs to get the company machine going.

This mindset is understandable. People believe that passion can make one creative and motivated. Eventually, it helps them secure the funding they need and develop the skills to grow an enterprise.

What many don’t know is that passion is not created equal. Of the two most common types, one can lead to a significant entrepreneurial burnout.

How Common Is an Entrepreneurial Burnout?

Many studies talk about workplace stress, anxiety, and burnout. But most revolve around employees, whose causes can significantly differ from those of business owners.

In a comprehensive study by the Harvard Business Review (HBR), entrepreneurs are less likely to worry about job security, lack of autonomy, and workplace conflict. Instead, there are possibly three major risk factors for entrepreneurial burnout:

  • Passion
  • Limited safety nets
  • Operations in an uncertain environment

Interestingly, though, of the three, those with high levels of passion, particularly an obsessive one, are more likely to complain about burnout.

To come up with this result, HBR surveyed over 300 members of the Business Networking International (BNI) who work in diverse industries. The median age was 47, while the majority of the respondents were male.

The questions revolved around factors like job fit, passion, the tendency to feel burnout, and destiny beliefs, which refer to the idea that they’re meant to be entrepreneurs.

All shared they experienced some level of burnout, but 25% claimed this was moderate for them. About 3% mentioned severe burnout.

Further, the respondents scored highly in job fit and harmonious passion and then average obsessive passion and destiny beliefs. But despite scoring average in obsessive passion, those who exhibited it were the ones who claimed burnout the most.

They reported feeling emotionally drained after putting in a lot of effort throughout the workday. They also complained about being frustrated and close to breaking down often.

What’s the Problem with Passion?

How can an obsessive passion lead to burnout? Psychology Today may have the answer.

Obsessive passion is the relentless pursuit of an activity or ideal of which the person is passionate. It becomes the business owner’s central focus that it ends up being the basis of one’s self-esteem and definition of success.

If they are away from the activity, their thoughts are likely to be around this source of passion. Thus, if they experience setbacks, burnout, guilt, and shame become more pronounced.

Compare that to harmonious passion where the person doesn’t lose mastery of oneself, and thus, he remains to be in control. Moreover, they perform the activities according to the value they provide in their lives.

For this reason, these individuals often find themselves in a flow state. They are deeply engaged or immersed in a task that provides them with great pleasure.

Killing the Burnout

To feel stress or burnout is normal, but when it becomes severe or recurs more often, it can affect many aspects of a business owner’s life. Definitely, a visit to a massage therapist or wherever one is in the States can help provide temporary relief.

However, for greater impact, an entrepreneur may need to consider these two crucial steps to kill the burnout:

1. Change One’s Mindset

This is probably the hardest step, but once the business owner gets past it, it spells freedom. One needs to let go of self-limiting beliefs and learn to embrace the truths about running an enterprise:

  • Everyone experiences setbacks regardless of the size of the business or the skills of the owner and the employees.
  • These setbacks need not be permanent.
  • Some are lucky, but most take years of hard work and many failures before they experience success.

woman sleeping on desk

2. Strive to Separate Personal and Professional Lives

Entrepreneurial burnout can worsen when it starts to affect one’s personal relationship with spouses, friends, and family. They may be able to manage this negative emotion more effectively if they can learn to separate these two aspects:

  • Determine the best working schedule and strive to stick to it.
  • Create a separate physical space for working, away from the house’s common areas such as the living room or the bedroom.
  • Consider taking a day off each week.
  • Take holiday breaks.

True, passion can get one far. But like everything else, it needs to have limits. Entrepreneurs should pay attention to the level of passion they exhibit to avoid becoming obsessed about it that it takes them away from their core.

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