Running on Fumes…Re-fill the Tank!

Running a business can be quite a challenge, and often we are running on fumes. This doesn’t mean that the challenges are negative, but

Running On Fumes...Re-fill the Tankas a result of experiencing success, life changes, and more, we are subject to burn out.

Business can be affected by a myriad of personal issues which makes it pretty volatile. Solo entrepreneurship can also be a lonely path despite the achievement.

Success is never enough motivation in some cases. Losing a loved one can never be replaced by a good profit. It will definitely weigh you down. Burn out cannot be replaced with money.

How DO you re-energize when you hit rock bottom in terms of motivation?

It is a well-known fact that if this keeps up for long it could soon break you down and eventually your business. There are a few things that you can try that could re-channel your energies and give you some sense of new life.

The big question is, how do you get your energy back or revamp your creativity?

Take a break

You definitely need a break. I wish I had taken one!

When I suffered two very significant deaths (within 4 months)  in my life recently, I did not take a break.  I cried through it, and 6 months later I still struggle at times feeling very depressed.

I thought at the time it was better to just keep working to keep my commitments to my clients and so that I did not have to deal with it.  The first few days were the hardest, and no, I was not working at full capacity, but I did get some things done.

My clients were more than understanding and did not apply any pressure which was extremely helpful.  I let my online commitments that were non-revenue generating go, something had to give. Taking a break would have been a better decision.

It is no use trying to run a business while on the edge. You will definitely mess something up at some point.

If you have others to support you, it is time to implement back-up plans and prepare them to run the business in your absence. This must include a proper communication system while you are away. Set your boundaries and stick to them.

If you do not have any support, you will have to forgo a few working days to get back on track.

Don’t hesitate, take some days off to recover from burn out or grief, and re-energize.

Take a cruise, a trip or hit the beaches and relax…most importantly – B R E A T H. Visit family and spend time with loved ones. No matter the crisis, it’s better when you go through it with those you care for most.

It is also a perfect chance to reboot your system and bring motivation to the table. Evaluate YOUR needs.


When you return to your business, you may need to breath new life into it in some way.

One way to do this is to consider re-branding.  The fact that your business is doing well is a plus and a great thing. Push this further by challenging your mind to a new look and design for your business.

This will motivate and re-energize you because it will feel like a new venture. Doing the same thing, in the same environment for years, and coming back to it after a life changing event, can be a drag and possibly more depressing.

Stop…evaluate…let’s refill the tank that apparently was  a l m o s t  empty!gas measure

  • Create new banners or logo
  • Add new colors in the office or change the interior design
  • Repackage your products, or
  • Create NEW products
  • Start that one project you always said you wanted to start

Getting into a brighter design mode will significantly change your mood and spark creativity.  It is a great way to beat the motivation blues and reboot, giving you a fresh, new outlook to life and your business.


Maybe it’s time to upgrade. The fact that you seem to be running on a treadmill could also come with the lack of expanding and looking into the horizons for the possibilities ahead.

Launching these possibilities with a good risk management assessment, and an excited mind, is bound to give you the same rush of lightblood that you had when you were starting your solo venture. It will also motivate you to create something new in the long run.

It is a great way to beat any blues.

Upgrade to something more challenging and exciting for your small business. Take time and think of all the ideas that could revitalize you and your business with proper management to enhance profit-making and success.

With these few tips in mind, you can bring back the fire that was in you when you began your business or project.

No matter the situation, or reason for the need to re-energize, nothing works like a good redirection upwards.

Onward and Upward!

Share below the one thing that helps re-energize your fire again? OR What keeps you motivated most?

This post is part of the Word Carnival Event:  Beat The Motivation Blues, Reboot, re-energize and Learn to Love your Business Again. Make sure you follow the link and spend time on posts by some outstanding bloggers…

  • Sharon Hurley Hall

    This really resonated with me, Michelle. I’ve learned the hard way that NOT taking a break only drags the process out. I love your idea of changing something when you get back to rekindle the passion for your business.

    • Michelle Church

      Thanks Sharon, I am living it right now. Was really hard to get this written and not my best, but i finished. I probably should have added something about that too…I REALLY am inspired by planning new things for my business , it really does help. I suck at taking breaks and truly something I am planning very soon. Appreciate you Sharon!

  • Nick Armstrong

    There’s this great book called “Leading on Empty” about ministers who throw so much of their lives into leading their churches only to feel totally emptied by the process. Not that it isn’t rewarding – it’s just that you get completely blasted day in and day out by new requests, trying to do more, hitting a high level of achievement, and then realizing it’s not what you want to be doing every day – because you’re living for the organization and not for you.

    The only way to recover is to do less, pull in the reigns, and outsource some of the high level stuff. Live your life, remember who you are and what you do.

    I’m sorry to hear about your losses… my outlet is creative. I had a really difficult decision to make in December, not at all eased by my choice of outlets – at that time, watching Stargate Universe (which is, for all intents and purposes – incredibly depressing).

    When I turned instead to painting, it became a bit easier. Forgetting to indulge in those creative outlets can often be the gentle push into full-on depression that us work-obsessed types are vulnerable to.

    Make sure your connections know what’s up, so they can lend a listening ear at the very least!

    Great advice Michelle!

    • Michelle Church

      Thanks Nick. One of my dearest friends is a chaplain and deals with death every day. Her clients are people in hospice and nursing homes and she is required to visit with them, pray with the families, and assist with making arrangements when they pass. It amazes me how she handles that everyday and at the same time she is writing her thesis for her doctorate…we talk about it everyday, so very interesting that you mentioned that book, I will have to tell her. It inspires me speak with her, see you and others accomplish all that you do when I know we all have challenges. I believe the creative is good for me too…well now I do, but did not utilize it at the best time, my suggestion to do something different is what is helping me now to overcome some things. Writing this, not my best, but at least finishing it was big. I appreciate the offer for a listening ear, very hard for me to show weakness and share, but I know that to come out of it we have to allow others in and in some ways this is a part of that.

  • Sandy McDonald

    Michelle the fact that you pushed through when you were grieving was courageous, even if you would have been better off taking a break.

    Running a life on fumes is definitely not fun. But amazing how many of us just keep pushing for those few extra miles. Last year I got the full blown ridgy-didge flue, no little snivelling cold this one. I was woman-down for two weeks. Surprise, surprise, just after I’d written and published my book under pressure. I wasn’t taking a break, so my body took charge and made sure I did anyhow!

    It would seem no matter what age, when we are in business for ourselves, we are not great at listening to the signs. We just keep on going for that extra distance. Great advice NOT to do that Michelle. Thank you.

    • Michelle Church

      Thanks Sandy, you are right we don’t always listen and give ourselves break I feel it more now and still grieving to the point there are moments I just have to take a break…planning on doing that very soon!

  • Melanie Kissell

    Brilliant (carney) minds think alike. My post for this month’s carnival alludes to my “gas tank”. 😉

    That proverbial apple you’re talking about, Michelle, didn’t fall far from MY tree. I can definitely relate to the absolute necessity of “taking a break”.

    Last year it seemed the cards were not stacked in my favor — one major personal crisis to follow the next. Things got to the point where I had no choice but to say “Screw work! Screw the internet! Screw blogging!” I was faced with a major medical issue to help my daughter through and a death in the family … just for starters.

    At first I kept thinking, “I can’t afford to take a break.” The bills weren’t going to pay themselves and at the end of every month, I have more month left than money. But I looked at the bigger scheme of things and decided I couldn’t afford NOT to take a break. Pushing yourself to work when 100% of your focus needs to be elsewhere never pans out and it’s never wise to bite off more than you can chew. None of us humans can be all things to all people.

    The dust is finally settling and I’m ready to refuel my motivation tank and anxious to see what 2013 brings! :)

    • Michelle Church

      So glad to hear things are picking up Melanie. What was so ironic for me is that, financially this was probably my best year since I have been in business (9 years now) so it really messed with my head that I was in so much pain losing my best friend of 30 yrs suddenly (one of the people that found her) and then 4 months later my mom, yet business was going great and now I recognize exactly what you are saying Screw work! was what I needed. I did screw blogging because I just got to busy and still struggling with that. Just writing this one was a big chore. I really do like it and I want to get better at it so that is one of my upgrades I want to start focusing on. Thanks so much for your comment and we definitely have to meet for lunch soon since we really aren’t far from each other.

  • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

    Thankfully, I’ve not had to deal with anything even remotely as devastating. (Knock on wood.) But people don’t have to die in order for us to get overwhelmed and burned out. It can happen simply when we forget to take care of ourselves. Taking walks. Drinking enough water. Eating healthy. These things go a long way toward helping us deal with crazy circumstances. But there’s got to be a “life” outside of our businesses, too. Friends. Family. Creative outlets (as Nick pointed to). Better to start working on this stuff now before something crazy happens than waiting until crisis mode, right? I think I’ve just given myself some very important advice. Thanks for helping me with that, Michelle. 😉
    You know how much we all care about you — and yes, it IS okay to take a break. And when that break is over, it’s also okay to change things up (maybe refresh your brand like you said) or even move on to something entirely different. Extreme loss helps us take stock of what’s really important and when we can incorporate those “lessons” we come out the other side better than ever.

    • Michelle Church

      Thanks Tea, I appreciate you and our circle so much. Yep, re-branding, re-creating, and re-thinking all in process. I am very grateful for my circle of friends who have embraced and continue to check on me. I firmly believe our quality of life is key which is why I moved back to California to be closer to my friends. Planning to take a real break very soon!

  • Annie Sisk

    Michelle, great post. I so empathize with your experience after the losses you suffered. I really wonder sometimes whether if I’d taken a longish break after Mom died and my marriage ended things would have turned out differently for me.

    • Michelle Church

      We are women and we make things happen regardless. I would never ask for help or let others know I needed help until a few years back when I just had no choice and I learned that those that are my friends will love me through it and they did. We learn as we grow, we grow as we learn…

  • Laurie Nylund

    When I need to recharge, I give myself the day off to go do my favorite thing – learn something new. I turn off mail, FB, and Twitter. That part used to be really hard for me, but who can’t wait until tomorrow for a response? I give *everyone* my cell, so if something really urgent comes up, I can still be reached. If the weather isn’t terrible, I go outside with a favorite snack, beverage. and laptop. Otherwise, I have a comfy chair in front of a fireplace (that too rarely gets used).

    Then I dive into my Lynda membership (I LOVE LYNDA!), where I’ve created a long queue of things that interest me (and their new releases email is always good for one or two more). I used to feel that spending time there was not a valid use of my limited time, unless there was something I felt would directly help me in my business. Now I look at it as the best way to recharge my brain, get that rush that comes from trying something new, while sipping a class of wine (or two). I highly recommend this for work at home types!

    • Michelle Church

      OMG…I LOVE THAT….I like Lynda too, but never thought about it like that. I am definitely going to look into that. What a great way to keep and up your skills!

  • Carol Lynn Rivera

    Michelle, I feel for you and your losses. It’s hard enough to deal with something devastating and then when you still have to “keep going” it can get really tough. On one hand, it’s a distraction and it’s something to keep your head in the moment. On the other, it takes away from your grieving time. So yes, I think taking a break is sooo important. Even every day, when things get tough, take a break! take care of YOU.

    For me a break works wonders. Even if I get away from my desk and work somewhere else it can get the creative juices flowing. Glad you’re back and I hope this year is looking better!

    • Michelle Church

      I use to take Saturdays off from everything and then I stopped. I am getting ready to implement that again and I am planning a real break soon as it’s all starting to catch up with me now and I can tell…”I need a breat”. Thanks Carol…you did a great job of reminding us this month and staying on it…I appreciate you very much!

      • Carol Lynn Rivera

        Thank you Michelle. I give you a lot of credit for getting your groove back! Yes, please take a break!

  • Nicole Fende

    Michelle I know 2012 was a really tough year for you. One of the most seductive parts of those workaholic tendencies – they make our bank balance grow. As someone who absolutely will use work as a coping mechanism I can relate to your reaction to two tremendous losses in one year.

    Remember that the good clients, the ones you want for the long term will understand why a break is necessary. The ones who don’t? Good riddance. Hugs and positive energy to make 2013 bright and restful!

  • Guest

    Great post, Michelle…loving the openness and potent sharing from your own dramatic experience! Love the image you found/used too….so perfect and quirky (and she’s staring right at your social sharing tools….subtle!) 😉

    Your post reminded me of our Word Carnival take on creativity, which is of course related to this one about motivation. All of those articles are here:

    I’m a fan of the rebranding strategy, of course! :)

  • Guest

    Great post, Michelle…loving the openness and potent sharing from your own dramatic experience! Love the image you found/used too….so perfect and quirky (and she’s staring right at your social sharing tools….subtle!) 😉

    Your post reminded me of our Word Carnival take on creativity, which is of course related to this one about motivation. All of those articles are here:

    I’m a fan of the rebranding strategy, of course! :)

  • evan austin

    Great post, Michelle…loving the openness and potent sharing from your own dramatic experience! Love the image you found/used too….so perfect and quirky (and she’s staring right at your social sharing tools….subtle!) 😉

    Your post reminded me of our Word Carnival take on creativity, which is of course related to this one about motivation. All of those articles are here:

    I’m a fan of the rebranding strategy, of course! :)

    • Michelle Church

      Thanks Evan, Appreciate the comment. Yep, I love image, it just fit and in just the right spot!