Overcoming Burnout Through Resilience & Ritual
Angela Devlen is a multi-passionate entrepreneur leading several companies and nonprofits, including The Founders Circle, a membership community for midlife women focused on the intersection of entrepreneurship and wellness.
Angela Devlen began her journey into entrepreneurship around 15 years ago when she started a healthcare consulting company focused on public health and disaster response.
Similar to her clients undergoing catastrophe, Angela was in a state of personal crisis herself. A recent move from Dallas to Los Angeles that took her far away from her family and sense of community, juggling motherhood on top of running a growing business, and a looming divorce quickly led her to burnout.
“During times of disaster, the things that go wrong are an amplification of things that were not going well prior,” said Angela.
This wasn’t only true for her clients, but for herself as well. As Angela’s life began to unravel, she could no longer ignore the gaps in her self-care or the shaky scaffolding of her resilience. Moving into a season of life where she was the sole breadwinner for her daughter, she realized she needed to make a change so she could continue thriving in her business and providing for her family.
“What I learned about what actually creates resilience is now such a big focus of the way I lead in every area of my life and business.”
Sleep deprived and creatively tapped, Angela struggled with feeling negatively toward many of the things she’d once been so passionate about. While once she would have simply allowed herself to ride the wave of her emotions, she realized she needed to take time to reflect on them and pinpoint the source of those feelings.
“When we’re burnt out, we disassociate from our bodies and what we’re feeling, and then we end up simply responding to the emotion we’re feeling in that moment without the capacity to manage the expression of that emotion,” said Angela.
Angela adopted many practices to be more mindful, including yoga, therapy, and journaling. She also put her journal and calendar into conversation with each other, scheduling her days as much as possible to fit her current performance and productivity level. Once she developed more emotional regulation, Angela realized that the love for the things she’d once been passionate about hadn’t died – instead, apathy was a symptom of her burnout.
“It doesn’t really matter what we do but rather the scaffolding that we’re building in our lives that allows us to do it in the way we’re being called forward to do it.”
Angela also developed professional and self-care rituals to help replenish herself and scale her business.
Perhaps her most important professional ritual is setting 1-3 priorities every day. All tasks for the day should directly contribute to these priorities, and everything else should be relegated to the “parking lot” – or written down and stored away to return to later. Without clear priorities, it’s easy to chug away at work without making meaningful progress.
Similarly, Angela ritualized her self-care practices to make them more intentional. For example, she sets aside dedicated time every morning for journaling, which she’s turned into a complete sensory experience with coffee, cozy blankets, houseplants, candles, and calming music.
“Having that mashup of personal and professional practices allows me to start my day feeling more grounded and using it as a litmus test for the things that come at me throughout the day. I can assess – is this in line with what I determined my focus should be?” she said.
One of the most significant lessons Angela took away from her burnout experience is the importance of connection in her life. Being an entrepreneur, going through a divorce, and moving cross-country led her to feel isolated, which only exacerbated an already difficult season of life.
Hoping to prevent other women entrepreneurs from feeling the same isolation, Angela began The Founders Circle in 2019 as a space for other women entrepreneurs to find connection and community. Offering trainings, workshops, and retreats, she draws on her own experiences and lessons learned to help midlife women navigate balancing career and family while also taking care of themselves.
Said Angela: “No matter what I’m doing in my work, the importance of having a sense of connection has been transformative for me and carries through in everything that I do.”
Connect with Angela Devlen at https://www.thefounderscircle.co/ or on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn by following @AngelaDevlen.
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