Investing in Personal Wellness Can Help You Avoid Burnout as an Entrepreneur. Here's How. The founders behind Whole Foods, Hint and Virgin Group credit their own wellness strategies as success drivers.

By Megan McNealy

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Burnout is part of life for many entrepreneurs. For many of us, we know that our self-induced striving is pushing the personal limits of what our bodies, minds and spirits are capable of, but despite that awareness, it's difficult to face the reality of it. We may know that the pace we're keeping is unsustainable in the long term, but it's easy to think: This won't be forever. This level of "push" is necessary to get my business over this necessary hump. I can focus on wellness once I'm successful and more flush with time and money. Can you relate?

The issue is that this level of intense hustle can last for years. We think it's the only way to success because we don't have many alternative role models.

I learned this the hard way, and I turned things around in part by prioritizing my behind-the-scenes well-being. By spending over two years interviewing successful CEOs and founders, I learned that well-being drives success. I used to think these business titans were driven by intelligence, motivation and drive. While that's true, I learned that some of the greatest leaders today are fueled by a leveraged core of well-being. They know you can do well and be well simultaneously. In fact, according to my interviews with these successful sources, well-being can be leveraged for business success.

Today, there's a new type of CEO and founder in our midst who uses behind-the-scenes well-being to bring themselves to higher levels of potential — and to bring more presence and power to their companies.

Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of Hint, dropped the eight to 12 Diet Cokes she drank every day and discovered she was "100 percent more detoxed," 55 pounds lighter within six months and polishing a brilliant new business idea: a concept for zero-calorie, real-fruit-flavored water with no sweetener or preservatives. Today, Hint reportedly makes more than $100 million in annual revenue. Goldin credits switching to water with drastically changing her personally and professionally for the better.

John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods, prioritizes batch-cooking on the weekends with his wife, using vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, bok choy, broccoli, green beans and kombu (seaweed). It takes 30 minutes start to finish, and he says they get three or four healthy meals out of it.

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group (including companies such as Virgin Atlantic), credits fitness as a driver of his own success. "I start every day with exercise — be it a game of tennis, some cycling, or, wind-permitting, a kitesurf around Necker Island," he writes on his blog. "Exercise puts me in a great mind frame to get down to business and also helps me to get the rest I need each night. There's nothing more satisfying than knowing I have applied myself both physically and mentally every day."

Time and time again, wellness-focused CEOs and founders mention that they prioritize their health to save themselves time, help themselves leverage success and allow themselves to show up with more power. Using these success stories as inspiration, we can focus on wellness strategies to tap in to our own potential — for ourselves and for our businesses.

Wavy Line
Megan McNealy

Author of "Reinvent the Wheel: How Top Leaders Leverage Well-Being for Success"

Megan McNealy is the author of Reinvent the Wheel: How Top Leaders Leverage Well-Being for Success.

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