I just love being a grown up. You can learn exciting new things like… economic efficiency… unintended consequences… redundancy…double dip recessions… the new normal… mortgage-backed securities…

and here’s a new one for me: Micro-burn-out.

Ah, the plight of the entrepreneur. Luckily for me, I have my own little in-house business psychologist who seems to anticipate when I’m going to need to know something and is ready to deal with the subject before the need ever arises.

See also: Emotional roller coaster, entrepreneurial.

Via the AntiRat, and just in the nick of time to save my sanity, comes this article about Micro-burn-out. What the eff is a micro-burn-out, you ask, too impatient to click away from my scintillating words?

Well, it’s sort of like regular burn-out, but it can’t be solved by rest, relaxation, pep talks and the like. Micro-burn-out is an immediate feeling of depression. Being done with the whole thing. A crisis of faith combined with sudden disinterest in the things you were working so hard to achieve.

It’s not necessarily losing motivation, although that’s one of the symptoms of micro-burn-out. It seems that one of the common causes of micro-burn-out seems to be (1) achieving your goals and receiving positive feedback either from the market or from individual analysis and then (2) receiving a deluge of negative criticism.

It’d be like doing great in school, receiving A’s on all of your work, then submitting a project you feel really good about and getting a terrible grade. It comes out of nowhere and, especially after all of your excellent feedback, it’s startling.

Or maybe you’re the office wunderkind — known for doing things better and faster than anyone else.  Your shit doesn’t stink until… suddenly, it starts to stink. Even if you haven’t shit. You roll up in a review expecting to receive rave feedback (and a raise!) and you get neither. Ouch.

Or maybe you’re on a fitness journey and you’re lookin’ good and feelin’ fine… exercising regularly, brimming with energy and self-confidence and suddenly the comments start about how you’ve lost too much weight. Or when are you going to lose your last 10 pounds? Or how come you spend so much time at the gym? Or how come you don’t eat donuts anymore, what do you have, some kind of eating disorder? Or you’re not seriously on a diet at Christmas, are you? Don’t you know you only live once?

Noah Kagan, whose post led me to this concept of micro-burn-out, writes:

What surprised me was I shared this with a close friend of how occasionally I felt depressed and he was like, ME TOO. In fact the more entrepreneurs I talk to the more I’ve found that this is not just common but practically required.

Thank god I wasn’t alone. It happens to all startups. Our emotions ride like a roller coaster — we’ve all heard that phrase but it’s different when you’re actually living it.

Noah goes on to give tips about how to ride out micro-burn-out (it boils down to take breaks, prioritize and use your to-do list. He also mentions getting a life-coach, which is interesting. I’ll have to think about that one).

So here’s the take-away… entrepreneurs aren’t that different from anyone who is not satisfied with being average.  If you’re trying to achieve something great in any field, there will come a time when the learning curve stops working in your favor.  Improvement is easy in the beginning because, well, we’re beginners. We’ve got nowhere to go but up.

Then it evens out and, eventually, improvement is more difficult the better you become. When you add in a competitive environment in which you are judged against other people who are also excellent, it can be even more discouraging.  Ugh, how well I remember being graded on a curve in law school. It wasn’t kind.

So if you’re going through micro-burn-out, try Noah’s tips for getting through it. Know that it’s normal. Keep your chin up. Find other daredevils who are attempting the same feats that you are. And, as my mother always said, this too shall pass.

xoxoxo,

E.