Browning butter. It’s not a complex process, really. It sounds simple, even: solid to liquid, liquid simmers, gets golden and scrumptious. Ta-da.
Start with unsalted butter, solid, sliced into a few chunks. As the butter melts, whisk gently. The magic happens a little bit past the melting point. The milk solids in the butter brown and carmelize, creating a delicious nuttiness. It’s aromatic and warm and beautiful. This end result? Depth and complexity and delicious.
But just seconds beyond the beautifully-browned point is the burnt point. Burned, scorched, beyond repair. It’s all about knowing the limits.
So it went with my first month of entrepreneurship.
I arrived in Kansas City with an already-full-time mindset. Eager is an understatement: I’d started networking before I even arrived. I’d built this whole idea list and picked up a new Moleskine notebook and everything.
And so I hit the ground
running sprinting upon my arrival. Through networking events, emails, cold calls and warm calls, I managed to make my first week in Kansas City the most successful week of my business.
Energized by the unique-ness of it all, I kept going. And going and going and going. I woke up early and went to bed late. I drove across the metro area — north and south and east and west. I worked from random Starbucks locations (love me some pumpkin spice lattes) and made phone calls from highway shoulders. Kid you not.
Furthermore, I approached networking in a large metro area like I did in a smaller community. A new market required a new strategy, but I spent no time investigating or planning or considering.
Then I headed to back to Indiana, first to meet with Lafayette clients and then to the Influence Conference. Every meeting, every connection, every moment held precious meaning, and I wouldn’t have traded any.
Things were going the way of browned butter. Business was clarifying and bronze-ing and yummy-ing.
Minutes later? Burn.
I found myself fruitless, motivation-less and lethargic. Anxiety was high and energy was low.
In browning the butter of this business, I burned myself out.
Exhaustion hit and the to-do list was still long. This wasn’t a vacation because I hadn’t prepared in advance. This wasn’t a sick day because (news flash, Sarah!) there are no sick days when you are your own boss.
Days later, I’m back at it. The past few days have been solid and motivation is slowly returning. Unlike browned butter, which just gets burnt to the point of no return, I can redeem this burned out season.
1.) Plan ahead.
Had I looked — really looked — at my calendar, I would have seen the Influence Conference and related travel on the horizon. I would have seen the dozen-ish meetings coming up. With a good look at the calendar, I might have had the courage to say “Not this week, but what about next week?” No shame in that.
2.) Anticipate burnout, know your limits and work around it.
Oh friends, I wish I’d scheduled a random Wednesday evening with nothing but me and a magazine. Or better still, I might have scheduled a Thursday afternoon as admin time, to catch up on emails and my to-do list. Burnout happens to the best of us and margin helps. Limits are not the enemy, and they can be welcome when we plan for them.
3.) If you expect to bloom where you’re planted, investigate your climate.
I was so busy trying to bloom where I was planted that I did no research on the best kind of fertilizer, the new climate or the type of soil. Like I said, KC is a little different from Lafayette. Not better or worse, just different. My approach and my plan should have been different too.
4.) Humans are human. Embrace your limits.
I seem to think I’m Superwoman or something and time after time, I learn how far from Superwoman I am. Humans need grace. We’re imperfect and try-try-try as we might, perfection isn’t realistic. It’s okay if we need time to rest, time to take a break. We ought to aim for good, not perfect. And we ought to give ourselves grace no matter how we perform.