Avoiding Burnout: Goals are Great But …

by | BiggerPockets.com

This is the time of year when everyone thinks about goals and what they want to achieve in the upcoming year. I am one of those folks that have written a lot about the importance of setting goals and the implementation of those goals.

But I think there is another subject that is important to cover at this time and that is how those same goals can lead to burnout. Avoiding burnout is not as easy as it sounds when you are an entrepreneur. It is the very nature of an entrepreneur to keep going when everyone else has thrown in the towel. Entrepreneurs are known for their refusal to give up. This very trait that separates us from the rest of the folks is the very trait that can cause us to crash and burn.

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Lofty Goals

Many of us tend to set big goals in our businesses. In fact it’s not uncommon to set goals that are so big that they would be almost impossible to actually accomplish and still “have a life”. Entrepreneurs aren’t really known for being good at pacing themselves.

What generally happens is that we work until we are ready to drop. Day after day we work late; we work on weekends and holidays chasing those big, lofty goals. Don’t get me wrong; I am a big proponent of setting goals that stretch you. But you have to be realistic at the same time.

Finding Balance

Finding balance can be a tough thing to do. I have found in my own business that when I have too many big projects on the table, I fail to get any of them completed in a timely manner. Having too many “incompletes” weighs me down and actually prevents me from being as productive as I would otherwise be. It can also be downright depressing. Often when this happens, we feel like we have failed when in reality, we just have put too much on our plate at one time.

Have you ever read a book that was so full of information, tips and tools that you wanted to implement all of them in your business? Ask yourself what happened later when you looked back at those great ideas. I’ll bet you failed to put any of those things into place. Once again, there was just too much to tackle at one time.

Getting a Handle on Information Overload and Burnout

Preventing burnout will require you to stop doing some of the things you currently do and in most cases you probably find this is hard to do. But if you don’t make these changes, over time your health and your wealth will suffer.

Here Are 6 Steps You Can Take

1. Just pick 3 or 4 big projects at most to put on your goals list this year; no more. There will always be day to day activities in your business that will soak up a large portion of your day.

2. Figure out a reasonable schedule for the implementation of your goals that doesn’t involve working long hours and weekends on a regular basis. It’s OK to do that from time to time but it shouldn’t be a regular thing.

3. Get some help. We have discussed outsourcing before. If you haven’t done it yet, decide that this is the year you will take some steps to make that a reality in your business. Here is an article I wrote on this topic you can refer to.

You can hire an actual person either full time or part-time for your business, or you can look into virtual assistants for some tasks. If you have a direct mail program for your business, that job can be easily outsourced.

4. Look at all of that information that hits your inbox every day. Do you really need to be on all of those lists? Are you really going to miss out on the “next big thing” if you hit the unsubscribe button?

5. Schedule a vacation. Whether you plan to take an actual vacation or just take a week off and rest, this is vital to your well-being and for avoiding burnout.

6. Get a hobby or just go have fun.

Avoiding burnout actually requires you to quit working, give you brain and your body a rest, and to have interests outside of work. When you don’t take these breaks your body will often handle this for you; it will typically show up in the form of illness. That’s not the kind of break any of us wants.

I would love to hear how you prevent burnout
Photo Credit: Magnus.

About Author

Sharon Vornholt

Sharon has been investing in real estate since 1998. She owned and operated a successful home inspection company for 17 years. In January of 2008 she took the leap of closing her business to become a full time real estate investor.


  1. Adam Schneider on

    Nice perspective, with good suggestions!
    I agree on your thoughts re goals. Sometimes having two sets of goals can help…one that is close to forecast and one that’s a stretch. For a pro sports team, one goal might be to make the play-offs, and another would be to win the championship.

    I find that writing about work helps to relieve burnout–it can provide clarity when there are distractions.

    • Adam –

      I certainly agree about writing about things. Putting things on paper almost always leads to clarity. I like setting big goals that are a stretch, but they also need to be attainable. You want to stretch, but not set yourself up for failure. Goals have to be realistic. I love your sports team analogy. Happy New Year.


  2. Great List Sharon
    This time of year has been a reflection time for me and my business. What have I actually done to move my life forward. I realize that everytime I set goals i actually achieve roughly 40% of my goals. As time goes on I either get lazy or unfocused and just drop off all together. The them of 2014 for me is if i work hard, reward myself and get away. Living here in the Carolinas is some of the most beautiful country that I never knew existed. I think a little down time makes you more effective in moving on in building your real estate portfolio.

  3. I think your point about looking for balance is an important one. One of my first jobs was highly seasonal – lots of overtime and long days in the first quarter of the year, then much slower in the second quarter. I had a manager who expected a lot in Q1, but encouraged me to take a few afternoons off or leave early when it was quieter in Q2.

    It’s healthy to proactively find some down time to recharge and refresh. Vacations, volunteering, getting outside or even leaving early once in a while can do wonders to refresh your mind and spirit.

  4. Good points Sharon. Balance is something that is so important. I believe in working to achieve the success you so desire but not at the expense of the most important things in your life. For me it is family. I always said I will be successful but not at the sacrifice of spending quality time with my family especially when they are young. My why is my kids but they will not be my sacrifice if that makes sense. May you have a successful 2014 and hit as many goals as you set it out to achieve.

  5. Michael –

    I plan to work hard this year to find more balance. It’s a tricky thing, and it does take some work and awareness at times. When you have small children they should always come first.

    Best of luck to you too in 2014.


  6. Another very good article Sharon.
    I recently commented on another BP article that it is good to miss on achieving all your goals since if you get them all you aren’t challenging yourself.
    However just constantly failing will just destroy your confidence and make you depressed.
    Achieving like 80% or so I think is pretty optimal to keep you motivated without making you feel like you failed.
    I also appreciate your points 5 and 6 since a lot of times entrepreneurs forget that there is more to life then working as much as possible without actually killing yourself in the process. Set a non work related personal goal. Maybe a health goal (The dreaded losing 10lbs or whatnot…) and maybe a friend/family goal (Going to have one “date night” a month with a spouse) to help keep your sanity and to remind oneself WHY you are working so hard in the first place.

  7. Shaun –

    Those are all good points. I think sometimes we get so caught up in working and building our businesses, that we look up one day and realize that there hasn’t been a whole lot of “fun” lately. I think that you are right about scheduling fun; date nights, short trips or even taking in a movie. This is the year I hope to begin leading a more balanced life. Thanks for your insights.


  8. Sharon, thank you for this post. I always enjoy your articles. This one is especially true. Last year I embarked on a pretty big change by buying out a partner of nearly 20 years. Then this year I ramped up my plans and bought several houses and 2 flip houses. Then suddenly I had several houses come empty that needed a LOT of work. End result I could not even hire all the work done due to lack of workers and sick time for some. I have been putting in a lot of hours as well as paying some very big bills for workers. My main hobbies were hunting in the fall. and playing an online game. I have not hunted now for 2 years and have not played my online game for several months. I will try to make some changes. the first is to write out that I will limit my upgrades when properties empty if I have more than 2 empty at the same time. Thank you again.

  9. Jerry –

    I think when anyone looks up and they are in this situation, it’s time to get a plan. Just the act of sitting down and writing everything down really helps with that planning. I have come to the conclusion that we all have too much on our plates most of the time. We simply don’t put leisure and hobbies on the top of our list, and we should be doing that. We need to find time for fun. Thanks for reading.


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