I Manage Money for Ultra-High Net Worth Clients and Experienced Burnout Early in My Career. Here Are 4 Things I Did to Recover and Improve My Quality of Life.
Money and time are very similar in that if you don’t proactively set some aside for yourself, they’ll slip away entirely.
As a money manager and successful investor, the money aspect was easy for me, but I definitely underestimated the importance of taking time for myself. It caused me to crash and burn out, big time.
I started my wealth management company, Weber Global Management, in August 2017. I was 22 at the time, and though I’d already been an investor for many years, this was the first company I’d ever started.
I was a brand new entrepreneur.
My new role was remote and the thought of overworking myself in the comfort of my own home seemed impossible, so I didn’t let the long hours worry me.
But the reality is, even though I was working from home, I was still neglecting myself in major ways.
It sounds silly, but it was almost harder for me to take care of myself being home all day than it was when I went into an office.
Failing to eat right, exercise, and socialize were becoming the norm. Technology and my job on Remote Wall Street had given me little reason to leave home, and I was so busy with working that it simply became easier to stay inside.
I remember telling myself that I was in my early 20’s and in great health, so I shouldn’t have any problems pushing the limits.
By March 2019, I had gained nearly 50 pounds, I was struggling with depression, I wasn’t able to sleep more than 2-3 hours in a night, my closest relationships had failed or were failing and I had ZERO friends.
I was miserable.
To make matters worse, my immune system was having a complete meltdown. Reluctantly, I visited an immunologist. After a few tests, we quickly discovered that the massive amounts of stress and months of self-neglect had caused me to become allergic to nearly everything I had eaten my entire life and everything in the environment around me. This included fish, shellfish, soy, sesame, tree nuts, eggs, onions, milk, legumes, and even random things like oranges.
In addition to all the food allergies, I had extreme pollen allergies that I never had before. I also became allergic to cats (but not dogs, thankfully).
I had run myself into the ground, physically.
I was officially burned out and terrified of letting it go any further. It was time to make some dramatic changes to my lifestyle.
Being an investor and finance entrepreneur is great, but I don’t willingly choose the 16-hour days, the stress, and the sleepless nights.
How could I cut back when cutting back may mean my company would fail?
My clients had become accustomed to me taking their calls at all hours of the day — some would even call me at 2:00 a.m. So how would they react if that suddenly changed?
Fortunately, after nearly destroying my body completely from intense burnout, I’ve been able to restructure my life so that I no longer having severe allergic reactions, am almost back to my original weight, have great relationships, and my business has more than quadrupled in size over the last two years.
Most importantly, I’m actually really happy and satisfied with where I am in life and I’ve been able to keep a deep sense of determination and ambition.
What did I do and how did I go from burnout to breakout?
1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’m highly independent, stubborn and a bit of a control freak, and that wasn’t going to work for me for much longer and I knew it.
Still, it was difficult for me to come to terms with the fact that things were getting out of hand if I didn’t hire someone to help with certain tasks. I was going to be in big trouble.
I was also nervous about appearing weak or incompetent to our clients and my business partner, Chris, but I physically and mentally couldn’t do it anymore alone, so it was time to humble myself.
When I approached Chris, he was incredibly understanding and agreed it was time to bring on some more staff to help with the back office work.
This freed up hours of time for me and really helped foster a deeper sense of trust between him and me. I knew that my best interests mattered to him, and it demonstrated to me that it’s okay to ask for help.
2. Learn to set boundaries. If you don’t set boundaries for yourself, other people will do it for you, especially on Wall Street.
One major contributor to my burnout and health issues was an extreme lack of sleep, and the biggest thing affecting my sleep was my cell phone. I was keeping it right by my bed with the ringer on, and I’d answer just about any and every work-related call, no matter what time it came in.
For most people this probably isn’t much of an issue, but I have clients all over the world in different time zones. Two in the morning in California is 11:00 a.m. in Zurich where we do much of our business, so this was an issue for me in the sleep department. I started setting my phone to “Do Not Disturb” mode which so that most calls, except for true emergencies, were silenced so I could sleep peacefully.
I remember one of my clients was upset when I stopped taking his early morning calls, but I had a very honest conversation with him about where I was physically and how I wouldn’t be able to answer in the middle of the night anymore.
I’m grateful that he was understanding after I explained the situation to him, and now he sends emails instead of early morning calls.
3. Set aside recovery time for yourself every day. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, but this is really important.
There’s only one person you spend every moment of your life with, and that is yourself. So, take time to make sure you are recovering and happy.
For me, it’s the 10-20 minutes per day that I spend meditating and journaling. If I can, I love to watch movies or hang out with friends and family, but at a minimum, take just a few minutes each day to recover and assess where you are mentally and emotionally.
4. Plan your own day, don’t let others do it for you. Similar to setting your own boundaries, you need to take charge of your day. If I don’t plan my day and the things I need to do, I end up working all day and getting seemingly nothing done.
I’ve learned that if I’m not intentional with what I want to accomplish, other people get really good at dictating my time. If I don’t have my day planned and someone calls and asks if I can run an errand, or look something up for them, it’s really hard to say no and it’s easy to end up derailing my day and what I need to get done to help them.
But if you have a legitimate plan and To-Do list in place, you’ve already occupied your time with what is essential, and you will be much less likely to get distracted. I am noticeably more efficient when I have everything planned out.
Also, planning my day is how I make sure to plan “Recovery Time” for myself and schedule in all the necessary things like going to the gym and cooking meals around my allergies. Without careful planning of my time, I run the risk of putting myself in the same bad situation as before.
I’ll be the first to say that it wasn’t easy to recover from burnout.
I’m still working on it and dealing with the repercussions to my immune system. I’ve had to learn how to reposition the things in my life without neglecting other aspects and adding a whole regimen of self-care.
But it’s entirely possible to get back on track if you are willing to make some changes. It will not only improve your quality of life, but it’ll also make you far more effective and successful. You’ll be much more equipped to handle stressful moments in your life and career.
The stock markets of 2017-2019 were nothing compared to what we faced in 2020 and even 2021, but I was able to handle the stresses of 2020 and COVID/post-COVID money management with relative ease because of the way I’d structured my life to avoid burnout.
Briton Hill is a wealth manager, investor, and the president and a partner at Weber Global Management.