As a bright, driven, and high-achieving young entrepreneur, you might already be aware of the symptoms of burnout.
- Feelings of isolation
- Loss of self-confidence
- Headaches or other body aches
- Lack of interest in things you normally enjoy
- Poor self-care, including hygiene and nutrition
Sometimes the pressure for teens to succeed and achieve can feel like a rush. You get that empowering rush of adrenaline from deadlines. A rewarding sense of accomplishment when you get straight As. These feelings are normal. When they help you be your best self, they are positive drives in your life.
But when your drive affects your health, your happiness, and your grades, you may start to feel burnout. Now, your ambition has become a liability, rather than the motivator that helps you succeed.
WHY TEENS BURNOUT
For college-bound high schooler juniors and seniors especially, the pressure to perform well at any and all tasks can be overwhelming. You’ve got:
- AP classes and exams
- More homework
- College applications
- Family obligations
- A social life
- Your business start-up
Honestly, just looking at that list can be exhausting!
The pressure to not only succeed, but to dominate all those areas of your life can easily drain you of your precious time and energy. Pulling all-nighters may seem romantic and even mandatory, but is it good for you? How many organizations can you realistically volunteer for, anyway? Are you spending time applying to colleges because you think you should, rather than because you see a future there?
It’s great to want to be the best at whatever you do. But is teen burnout causing you to self-sabotage all your efforts? Maybe it’s time to redefine what success means to you.
WHY ARE YOU DOING THESE THINGS?
If you do a sport you don’t enjoy because it’ll look good on your college application, then why did you sign up? And why do you continue with it? Is there another sport at your school or in your town you might enjoy more?
Of course, AP classes always look good to colleges. And if one AP class is good, then *all* the AP classes are better. Right? But if you find that you are spending more time on one class just to stay caught up, it could be a sign that this particular class isn’t right for you. AP Bio is wonderful if you plan to major in pre-med, but is it a must-take if you are headed to business school?
In other words, drop the things you are doing just because they “look good.” This goes for classes, clubs, volunteerism, and yes – even your friends. Your social circle should be a source of inspiration and delight, not a chore. Ask yourself how you feel after spending time with your friends. Are you energized and refreshed? Or drained and upset?
Burnout is much more likely to happen when the tasks and commitments in your life feel like obligations instead of steps on the path to success. Even the hard stuff should have some sort of reward for you other than getting you into college. When you don’t feel good about your efforts you are much more likely to burnout.
ASK FOR HELP
Unless you live off-grid in a shack in the middle of nowhere and you catch and gather all your own food and build all your own furniture, everyone depends on someone else at some point. This is especially true for high school entrepreneurs. As a teen, you probably depend on your parents for shelter, food, utilities (WiFi isn’t free!), and transportation.
So it’s ok to seek help when all that pressure feels like it’s starting to break you.
Good friends may understand exactly what you’re going through if they are also high-achieving college-bound teens. Some of them may feel the same burnout as you. Ask them how they cope and offer to help them in return. Creating a healthy social support system is a crucial life skill.
Your school guidance counselor is also an invaluable (and free) resource. Their entire JOB is to help students like you. In their job, they’ve probably seen it all. As such, they know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to helping young entrepreneurs avoid burnout while still preparing for college.
Getting help shouldn’t feel like yet another obligation. If going to an outside therapist once a week becomes something you dread, find another way to cope. Help should actually, you know, HELP you. Perhaps all you need is an extra ten minutes at the end of each school day to talk to a teacher you like.
PROTECT YOUR DOWNTIME
Everyone’s brains and bodies need to recharge. Think of school, activities, and college prep as exercise. Each activity you do and class you take builds your college application “muscles.” Now, imagine downtime and self-care as stretching. This is where your body recovers so you avoid sore muscles and injury.
No one gets into college if they are too burnt out to function anymore. Your downtime is just as precious as your active time. Chatting with friends, hanging out online, and binging shows are all as important as quality sleep, good nutrition, and physical activity.
Learn to recognize the signs of impending burnout. Then get comfortable saying “no” to things that will neither build your muscles nor stretch your body. If it’s not helpful or not recharging, it’s not worth your time and energy.
No one doubts your hard work and determination. You wouldn’t be reading this blog if you weren’t serious about college! But burnout is real, even (especially) among teens. Your classes should be opportunities for you to learn, not drudgery. Your friends should make you feel good, not let down. And your entrepreneurial business should be a source of pleasure and self-confidence, not another source of stress.
At the Kantner Foundation, we reward achievements. And we know that teens achieve more when they do what they love, seek help when they need it, and avoid spreading themselves too thin.
The Kantner Foundation is proud to offer college scholarships to Florida’s high school entrepreneurs. To learn more about our program, and to start your application, click here.