Where to find friends

The best antidote to burnout is relationships

You’ve heard about burnout, and you know it sucks. You could tell me all about how it’s damaging to you, your business, and your personal life. 🔥

And yet. 

Despite the best intentions of 100s of articles teaching you how to recognize burnout, it’s wayyyy more likely it’ll sneak up and sucker punch you. 

Even if you know the warning signs. 

Even if you’ve been there a few times before.

Even if you meditate, exercise, and eat a plant-based, organic, essential-oil laced diet. 🌱

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Why burnout is so sneaky 🙇

You don’t go from great on Monday to toasted on Friday. Burnout happens slowly over weeks and months, then suddenly as you realize, “Oh shit. This is bad.” 😐 

Picture burnout as a spectrum. Any given day, you’re somewhere along this: tuWtQgFfKHam48ah1Y-3jucb8gtCpMqSWN_apeJw

Healthy habits push you toward the left. ⏪

Chronic stress and overwork push you toward the right. ⏩

There’s also the less obvious compound factor. If you’re consistently spending energy faster than you’re replenishing it, you’ll hit empty. Stress, like effort and finance, compounds over time. 

So, is there anything I can do about it? 😨

Many founders reduce burnout with healthy habits like these: 

We’d endorse all of those. But there’s an even more powerful factor you can leverage, and a lot of people miss it. The best antidote to burnout is relationships. 👪

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Dr. Maslach, who’s been researching burnout for over 20 years, says relationships are the most effective way to combat burnout. In a NYT’s article, she states, “...people’s health, well-being, everything in life, is way better if you’re connected with other people.” 💥

Of course, you already know relationships aren’t easy. They get harder as you get older, they take time, and it’s difficult to find potential friends. Now, I can’t fix either of the first two, but I can lend a few tips on the last one. 

Important note: This does not apply to toxic relationships. Those induce burnout, not alleviate it. Avoid people who tear you down or encourage unhealthy thought patterns. 

Get to know people who AREN’T in startups 👋

It’s great to hang out with other founders, but friendships outside the startup circle provide perspective and much-needed breaks from #startuplife. To meet people in your city: 

  • Look up local class offerings and take one on...anything. Pottery, sushi, coffee, welding. Whatever sounds interesting. 🍣

  • Pick up a hobby that has an active community. Here in Chattanooga, you could row, mountain bike, hike, and trail run. 🚴

  • If you’re a gym person, attend the same classes each week. Get to know the other people in it. (Even if it’s 5am.) 🏋

  • The coffee shop you’ve been in 3x this week? Talk with the baristas. Placing your order doesn’t count. ☕

  • Volunteer for local cleanups, non-profits, or events. Serving alongside someone is a fast way to build a strong bond. 💪

  • Get a dog and frequent dog parks. Or a cat and whatever it is cat people do. 😼

  • Find or start a supper club. You have to eat anyways, right? 🥘

  • Start a happy hour group. My husband and I do this with 10 people every Tuesday. It’s fostered the strongest local relationships we have. 🍻

  • Build a routine. If you’re exercising, grocery shopping, and moving around town on a consistent schedule, you’re more likely to run into the same people. 

Get to know other founders as well 🚀

Sometimes, you need to talk with someone who “gets it.” To engage other founders: 

  • Reply to founders you respect or admire on Twitter. If you’re not sure where to start, we listed some incredible people who inspire us in our latest blog post. 👀

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  • Approach a more experience founder and ask them to mentor you. Or, if you’re more experienced, mentor someone else. 👥
  • Attend local meetups and events, like 1MillionCupsCreativeMornings, or StartupGrind. 💫
  • Join a shared workspace. Be intentional about introducing yourself and attending events. 👋
  • Find a Slack group for entrepreneurs. If you click with someone, hop on a video call. (I call these virtual coffees, and I freaking love them.) 📹
  • If you already know a founder or two, start a mastermind group. Schedule monthly updates where you check in with one another and provide mutual encouragement. 💬
  • Easiest win on this whole list: hit reply and start a conversation with Andrew and I. 💭😁

You have options. If you start now, you can build the friendships you’ll need during the hardest parts of your startup journey.