Momentum Podcast: 870
How to Overcome Burnout and Never Let it Happen Again
by Alex Charfen
In this episode Alex discusses burnout among entrepreneurs and the physical and mental toll it takes on individuals. He emphasizes the importance of self-care, including staying hydrated and regulating one's central nervous system, to prevent burnout and optimize business performance. He firmly believes that burnout is not a necessary part of entrepreneurship and encourages entrepreneurs to prioritize their well-being.
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Full Audio Transcript
This is the Momentum podcast.
I was on a call the other day where an entrepreneur asked me about burnout. He said, you know, do you have any ways to overcome burnout and stop being burned out again?
I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum podcast made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers, and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny. We define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future. And instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world, because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution. And we always will be.
When we talk about burnout as entrepreneurs and sometimes therapists, even doctors use the term burnout, which always surprised me because it's not a scientific term. It's this blanket term that refers to the feeling after as human beings, we have been a hyper vigilant, accelerated fight, flight fund or freeze state or jumping through those states in a reactive, triggered or easily trigger a ball state because the pressure noise in our lives is so high and we're trying to do so much and we're so overwhelmed in that timeframe that we get to or maybe not overwhelmed, but we're trying to do so much. But like it's on the verge of overwhelm. It doesn't even have to be in full overwhelm to feel this. You have this set of symptoms and they come from red lining your body and they include things that are called stuff like chronic fatigue and autoimmune and hormonal issues and thyroid issues and adrenal issues. There's all types of names for this stuff, but it's from red lining your body for far too long. And as an entrepreneur, when we red-line, we get to the place where we stop making the best decisions. Because when we red-line for far too long, we get our body to a state where it is hyper reactive. We get our body to a state where it's more sensitive. We get our body to a state where all of those symptoms show up and that is referred to collectively as burnout. And what happens is it also takes a toll on our mental status, our ability to feel like we're in on momentum, our ability to get excited about what we're doing. We start really having a hard time getting things that we need to get done. And I've watched this my whole career.
You know, I got to a place in my twenties where as a consultant, I knew I could always help someone grow a business doing what I did. I helped a ton of companies sell hundreds of millions of dollars. And what would happen is sometimes with the smaller companies we're working with where it wasn't like a big multinational, it's a totally different animal. But when we were working with an entrepreneur, we would help them grow their company really fast and that entrepreneur would be redlining and then they would have some type of a crisis that would affect our ability to continue to help that company, to grow in our ability to make an income. Because if that guy went down, that's where that's the person who is writing our checks. And if the company was unstable, it made it really hard for us to represent and consult with them and put them into retail stores and do the stuff that we did. And so this pattern that I saw was when an entrepreneur, red-lines, things go bad, and I saw it over and over and over again to the point where I started talking to the people around me about like, hey, you know, if the company is going really fast, you've got to remember to drink water. If you're drinking water and you're hydrated, you're going to notice what's going on in your body. You're going to feel when you're feeling run down, you'll be able to make better decisions. You'll stay connected to yourself more. And so I've been obsessed with water for most of my career because I saw this clear pattern that when one of the people I was working with, when we were going through a day's meetings and the entrepreneur didn't drink water, by the end of the day, they were harder to be around.
And it was clear because I remember kind of thinking about it because this one person from Fuji, his name was Chris so he came and visited me and he was kind of a health nut, a lot like I am now. And he might have started some thinking back then. And he came and visited me and he had a huge bottle of water and he drank water all day. And I remember thinking Chris was, Chris was like, he didn't, he wasn't as reactive and triggered as everybody else is towards the end of the day. Like everybody I worked with was either exhausted or got kind of irritable and frustrated. And I saw this over and over again. And the first thing that I started suggesting to people was that they drink water. And then like I started just obsessing over how do we stay healthier, how do we still see more connected as human beings. And ironically, I had a period in time, even though I started thinking about that early, my business got to the point where it was growing so fast that I only had time for the business. I didn't know how to delegate. I didn't know how to create a clear plan for my team. I didn't know how to even have operations. I barely got any help myself. I let it consume me. I stopped taking days off. I worked every day. I worked 12 to 14 hours a day, and by the time I was 30, I ended up going from having done, like, modeling work in California kind of as a larger size, like muscular model to weighing 300lbs and having trouble getting upstairs with this, like, so little muscle mass. It was embarrassing. And I remember that feeling of burnout. It was because I had red-lined for far too long and the array of symptoms that it caused me to discover over time was pretty severe.
You know, I had a lot of trouble sleeping. So insomnia was a symptom. And I had, my hormones were completely out of whack and unbalanced to the point where, as a 30 something year old, I had the same testosterone levels as a friend of mine who was 50. In fact, I found out I was testosterone deficient when he was explaining to me that he had figured out why he was feeling so challenged and he told me how he had been feeling. And then he told me when I got tested and I was like, that's exactly how I've been feeling. And so I had testosterone issues. At one point I had adrenal fatigue. I've had a leaky gut. I've had so many things happen to me because I redlined and didn't take care of myself. And when I look back on my career, knowing what I know now, it is so clear to me that those periods of time did not have to be as painful as they were. Those periods of time did not have to be as challenging as they were. And here's what I know with certainty, not just because I've seen this in myself, because now I've coached hundreds of people, really thousands. If you look at the extended coaching group that we had in real estate, but for business specifically and for optimization and performance specifically, there's been thousands. And this pattern that I see is as entrepreneurs, we red-line.
And it's really interesting. Some people can do it indefinitely. And I've worked with those people, i've been up close and personal with those people, and I'm always like, wow, this is amazing that they can do this. But for most of us mere mortals, if we do this for too long, we start experiencing all these cascade of diseases that you will be told are hereditary or genetic or kind of foregone conclusions. And they're absolutely not. When somebody asks me about burnout, you know, to me, the way that you get out of, when you stay out of burnout is you live in a way where you never even approach that place.
And so the first thing that I always tell people is to start getting hydrated and drink a ton of water. I have a ten day challenge for water. There's a process to get you to drink more water that I used myself because I had a hard time drinking water and I always fell behind on water and I knew that I was dehydrated. And so I did a ton of research way too much when like 6000 years back on water like due to what was the original teaching around water. And there's so much there. I mean, jeez, it's crazy. There's entire belief systems around water that, you know, every molecule of water in the entire world has passed through every other molecule in the entire world. So there's this clear scientific reason why we are all energetically connected. And so, like, that's how deep I've gone on water. But for the purposes of drinking more, just go to the ten day natural thirst challenge. Just starting to drink more water will start moving you in the right direction. And as far as getting out of and staying out of burn out, here's what I know today in my career when I look back at most of my career, is that in the times where I was red-lining, in the times where I was not working out, not running in the morning, not eating the right diets, putting way too much time into the company, I'm working 40 to 60 hour weeks and really pushing myself to the limit because of the diminishing returns I got out of every hour that I worked because I was less present, less aware, less clear, less in my body. I know that had I just worked less and took care of myself and then fully optimized for the hours I was working. So exchange that taking care of myself time for the working time, but then optimize during the working hours because I'm taking care of myself, because I'm sharper, because I think more clearly. Because I see the future more clearly. Because I understand the relationships around me better, because I communicate way more clearly when I'm taking care of myself. I know those hours are worth more than the hours when I'm red-lining. And if you really read into this and listen to what I'm saying, see if you can make a counter argument because the science is there. If we stay in a fight or flight condition in our bodies for a prolonged period of time, we are going to cause issues. One that I always leave out is diabetes. So many people don't know that type two diabetes is the one that happens to you because of the conditions in your life. That is another thing that can happen from red-lining. You keep your blood sugar so high for so long because you're in this overworked, overclocked state that you stay in a place where you can potentially end up with diabetes.
And so the way that you get out of burnout is you again, live in a way that will never. Get you there. So first the water and then second the mindset. And whenever I go out in the speech, I ask the audience of entrepreneurs, how many of you believe you can make $1,000,000 in your lifetime? And in the audience of entrepreneurs, I want you to ask yourself that right now and hold the answer. And just do you believe that an audience is of the minds? Preneur is near 100% of the people believe it. And they put all they all put their hands up and they say, okay, you're a $1,000,000 racehorse. Here's what I mean by that. My stepfather, who passed away, was the first person inducted into the Thoroughbred Racing Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame. But like the betting part of it, the bettors association. And he took us to see thoroughbreds one time. And here's what I saw when I saw an actual million dollar racehorse. There was a trainer, there was an assistant, there was a jockey that knew the horse, there was a veterinarian with them. There was security. There's no mistaking that it was a $1,000,000 racehorse. And when I look at most entrepreneurs today, it's like they're trying to, it's like a competition to see who can behave in a way that will bring you out faster. And we do not have that million dollar racehorse mentality. In fact, we expect a million dollar racehorse performance where we treat ourselves like the industrial meat farming industry and treat animals. Like literally we red-line ourselves to the point of illness, which is just crazy and overwhelming and so difficult because there is this entire culture and entrepreneurship that programs you to do this.
And it's hustle culture, it's to get up in the morning and grab a cup of coffee and go to work, work 14 hour days. The thing that you can always do is work more. If you put in that extra hour and we create this condition where we have this massive population of entrepreneurs that every hour they're working, they're working in this place of diminishing returns because they are red-lining. And that's an indefinite amount of time. And, you know, some people do this and create success and it creates this impression that we can all do it and create success. But if you've been feeling like you don't have the energy you're supposed to have, if you've been not if you have not been working out, if you're not eating right, if you're not hydrating, if you're not doing the things that you should be doing and taking some time for yourself, you will get to this place where the symptoms you have just ensure that you're not going to be as productive as you should be.
And that and in my belief of working with the entrepreneurs that I have and I've helped a ton of people go again from from 7 to 8 and from eight to multiple eight figures, there's not a lot of coaches who have done that, with very few exceptions. One of the biggest laborers we pulled to get the company in that direction was creating a self care plan for the entrepreneur and included hydration, like I mentioned, and EMDR therapy. You can look at my podcast called The CEO's Secret Weapon to hear a deeper dive on EMDR and why I think it does so incredible at helping us to stop redlining. And in the group that I have that operates at 3 million or above, the conversation that we have at the table always ends up being about personal optimization and self care. We have conversations about saunas and cold plunges and breathwork and meditation and spending time, you know, just breathing and neutral and taking walks and getting clear and really understanding the decisions you're making. Because as your company grows and you move into a state of leadership, and leadership becomes the most important thing that you do, the more you have a regulated central nervous system, the more it will become your superpower. Entrepreneurs who are trying to lead teams or raise children or just raise ourselves, who are in a place where they have a triggered or reactive or overclocked central nervous system are at an overall deficit. They are at a disadvantage to everyone who has a regulated nervous system. And paradoxically, again, there are people out there that look like they can go all the time, do all the things and get everything done and they never have to slow down. And so we believe that we can. But once you start regulating your central nervous system, it will completely change how you run your business and you will very quickly.
In my experience, if you allow for this possibility, you'll start making better decisions. You'll start needing to put in less time at the bank, tactically doing all the things. You'll start finding ways to delegate more of what you're doing. You'll also start taking better care of yourself, which results in understanding what you need and what you want to do to feel better. And so don't believe that the way you can create short term and long term business success is to just live at red-line. It doesn't work for the vast majority of entrepreneurs, and I truly believe it's one of the reasons why when you look at the entrepreneur number of businesses in the United States, out of 29 million, 22 million are under $100,000 in revenue. And I feel like it's a whole bunch of entrepreneurs that are totally on red-line that are always in the business and tactically overwhelmed. And these are like service businesses and other small businesses like made, you know, house cleaning services and and lines, care services and other types of companies and some coaching businesses and some realtors and all of them. I feel like they're at such a red-line in most cases that that's why they're not growing the business. And so if you are experiencing burnout, you know, you're getting diminishing returns the fastest way. I know, like I tell entrepreneurs, self-care is the most effective gateway drug to success I've ever seen. So start taking care of yourself and you're going to see things change. And if you are interested in just the drink water part, go to getthirstynow.com. Check out the ten day natural thirst challenge. If you do it, please post a before picture on social media and an after picture on social media and then put them both in a post, but post the first one in post the second one. This is my ask to you and tag me because I want to see the difference in ten days what it looks like when you're fully hydrated. I think you'll be blown away. So getthirstynow.com. And don't let anyone convince you that burnout is a required part of the entrepreneurial equation. It's the opposite. If you really logically look at what I've said, you know, it makes sense. I appreciate you. I'll talk to you on the next episode.