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Battling Burnout: Finding harmony between work and life

by | Shanty Town News

Originally posted on Bold Journey Magazine on 4/23/24

Samantha, thrilled to have you on the platform as I think our readers can really benefit from your insights and experiences. In particular, we’d love to hear about your experience with burnout.

This past October (2023), my marketing agency celebrated its 10th anniversary. I started the business young, and I could have never imagined growing from a solopreneur to a team of nine, collaborating with over 450 businesses, and with more than 100 active clients. Our expertise lies in web design, SEO, branding, and everything in between. It’s been a journey of constant learning and adapting to make magic happen day in and day out.

While I was reflecting on this milestone back in the fall, I couldn’t help but feel a mix of pride and complete exhaustion. The achievements I’m proud of were significant but came with a cost. I realized I was so focused on fast-paced growth and meeting goals that I had sidelined other essential aspects of my life, relationships, and self-care.

The truth hit me hard—I was experiencing burnout. The relentless pursuit of milestone after milestone had left me feeling disconnected from the passion that initially drove me. This wasn’t just a professional issue; it was personal, affecting my daily life and diminishing my enthusiasm for the work I once loved.

Despite the challenges of running a remote business with team members across the country and the pressure to be constantly “on,” I’ve always aspired to foster a work environment that supports work-life balance. I spent a lot of time focused on how to create a space for my team to enjoy their work without sacrificing their personal interests or well-being. Ironically, while I was committed to this ideal for my team, I neglected to apply the same principles to my own life.

Acknowledging my state of burnout was a turning point. I realized the importance of not only leading with empathy but also treating myself with the same kindness. A conversation with my business coach was a catalyst for change, providing practical advice and accountability.

It required self-discipline to shake off the guilt of seemingly stepping away from work, but I made a conscious effort to reintegrate hobbies and creative pursuits into my life, such as drawing, painting, and digital art. These activities became a sanctuary, allowing me to detach from work pressures and rediscover my creative spark. More importantly, the excitement in rediscovering my side hobbies and newfound downtime, I learned to delegate more effectively, trusting my team to take on responsibilities that allowed me to step back and focus on my mental health.

The impact of these changes was profound, not just for me but for the entire team. We began approaching work with a renewed sense of holism and balance. We’re all getting better at setting boundaries, following inspiration, and prioritizing quality and happiness. This shift not only improved our well-being but also enhanced our creativity and productivity.

The journey is ongoing, but so far, it’s taught me the importance of self-care and the value of slowing down. It reminded me that taking time for oneself isn’t a luxury; it’s essential for sustainable success. By realigning my priorities and focusing on my well-being, I’ve started to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Can you share a bit about yourself and your current focus?

I’ve been a creative person my whole life. When I created my agency, I discovered that I also really love problem-solving. While my team excels in execution, I’ve found a lot of joy in holistic strategy. I love looking at our clients’ broader landscape to weave together solutions to that are meant to last.

I’m naturally drawn to marketing because it fuels my curiosity in creative expression and analytical investigation. I’m equally at home diving into analytics or working in Google Sheets as I am creating a logo or collateral.

Currently, my focus is on ensuring Shanty Town authentically reflects my own values and vision. It’s about finding a balance between personal expression, our brand’s identity, and that holistic vision I find myself in often, all while overcoming burnout.

We promote ourselves as “Your Remote Design & Marketing Department” because of our willingness to dive deep into a business, genuinely be a part of their community, and collaborate to come up with the best solutions to their marketing problems.

It’s even in the meaning of our name. Which is on our website as:

“Shanty Towns represent resilience, resourcefulness, and the ability to adapt to challenging circumstances.

A Shanty Town can be seen as a community that has come together to build something with its own hands. Residents of Shanty Towns find creative solutions to their problems.

We believe Shanty Towns represent the importance of the human spirit to solve problems, social connection for support, perseverance during challenging times, and creativity as a means for survival.”

If you had to pick three qualities that are most important to develop, which three would you say matter most?

Keep Your Plan Flexible: Not having a map can leave you lost, but never exploring off the beaten path might mean missing out on the best spots. I’ve found it’s better to have solid short-term goals rather than fixed long-term ones. This allows you to stay nimble and pivot as needed, which is crucial in a volatile field like marketing. Let your core values guide your long-term goals to help you stay true to yourself.

Stay Curious: Keep asking, keep trying, and keep pushing. The worst anyone can say is “no.” Pushing yourself and your boundaries means embracing risks and being open to failure as a stepping stone to bigger wins later.

Taking Care of Your Team: The heart of any successful business is its people. A nurtured team that feels valued, supported, and motivated is the backbone of any thriving business. They’re not just working for you; they’re in it with you, rooting for the vision you’re all chasing. Building an environment where everyone feels respected, heard, and encouraged to grow is a must.

As we end our chat, is there a book you can leave people with that’s been meaningful to you and your development?

No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Reed Hastings.

This was one of the first leadership books I’ve read, and it significantly influenced my approach to leadership and team development.

One of the key takeaways for me was the importance of creating a culture of freedom and responsibility. It taught me to empower my team to have the autonomy to make decisions and take action. The book also reinforced the value of candid communication and feedback, which has been great for transparency and trust within our team.

I’ve also learned a lot about hiring high performers and the idea that keeping adequate performers can be detrimental to team morale and company progress. It pushed me to think more critically about our hiring and how we find the right talent.

This book really allowed me to work towards a culture of ethics, collaboration, and mutual respect. This adjustment to leadership has also guided our team towards becoming more adaptive, proactive, and united in our goals.


Shanty Town

Shanty Town creates websites, creative designs, & digital strategies that untangle your technology and elevate the foundation of your marketing machine. Our team serves as an extension of your team. Wherever you are, we’ve got your marketing needs covered – on demand and on brand.

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