4 Steps to Avoid the Inevitable Hairdresser Burnout

By Christian Gaytan, reprinted from this site 

There are many reasons why people leave the industry: a move, an injury, or a change in family structure. One of the most dangerous and often overlooked is burn out.

It is a very real threat to our mental health and exercise behind the chair. Doing the same thing over and over again can be both a physically and mentally exhausting task. It is important for us as hairdressers to find ways to keep things fresh and exciting. To stand the test of time requires a lot of creative problem solving. Here are few suggestions:

#1 Challenge yourself. It is important for us to do what we love. Many people love what they do so much they even choose to specialize. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, if we find ourselves losing interest, one of the best ways to re-ignite the spark is by finding micro challenges.

A micro challenge is a small change in habit, existing within our area of expertise. For example: I love cutting hair. You could even say that is what I specialize in. Every once in a while I’ll focus on a new challenge. For months I’ll cut with a razor instead of my beloved scissor, measuring the results, learning through my successes and my failures. Or I might cut everything with a different comb or scissor length than what I’m used to using for a particular job.

Change the progression of a specific haircut while trying to achieve the same result is another challenge that is always fun. I am always honest with my clients about my experimentation. They appreciate and respect my willingness to try new things. Sometimes it even makes for interesting conversation and opportunities to expand the services they receive.

For those who don’t specialize, focus on a new skill set. That is always a great way to challenge yourself. Are you strong in color? Try dress work. Feeling bored with men’s cuts? Improve your finishing. It is in our nature to want to conquer something previously unachievable to us. Take advantage of that.

#2 Find friends: Finding someone with the same focus and intent is a scroll, follow or forum away. Find people who value the same thing and ride the wave of community. I keep a close group of friends, some I know really well, and some I know only through the screen of my phone. I turn to this community to influence and critique my work. I study their progress and adopt ideas and techniques I would not have thought of on my own.

This is especially important if you work in a salon or area where you have few resources for support and positive influence. Not sure where to look? Check Instagram hashtags, Facebook forums, trade magazine forums and social media pages. Hairbrained, one of my favorites, is a killer community and a great place to start.

Lastly, I’ve spent a great deal of time stalking the comments section of these blog posts and have found that the type of hairdresser who takes the time to read (in its entirety) and leave constructive feedback is the type of hairdresser who cares deeply about their industry. Sounds like a good place to start looking for friends to me!

#3 Love working with people.  Two things I’d like to cover here. If working with people isn’t a natural thing for us, it will be difficult to put love into what we do. It will show in our work, and in our interactions with our clients. Secondly, if there is no desire to learn how to grow this skill set, there is very little chance we will ever truly succeed at it.

It is important to remember that this is a people-centric business. The reward and fulfillment that comes with genuinely helping other people makes even the most difficult of days worth it. This is a great place to set goals.

How many people can we make laugh? Perfect the delivery of a funny story. Compliment the client three times before the end of the service. Put two clients who would benefit from one another in contact. Look for ways to help as often as possible. Not only will it help against burn out, referrals and rebooking will skyrocket

Gamify it. The gamification of our work can be the one of the most fun methods of burning burn out. And there are an unlimited amount of things we can gamify. Work to improve pace without compromising quality. Try to grow the amount of clients we encourage to leave reviews of our work. Improve stats like pre-booking, service dollars, and upgrades. These can be a great way to make our work fun and productive at the same time. Remember when we keep score, we do more.

#4 Education –  I’ve built my career off of education. It is helped keep me sharp, current, grounded and competitive. It is helped me to develop the ability to view my work through an objective lens. It allows me to update my goals, which keeps me moving in a perpetual state of growth and progress. Isn’t that the exact opposite of stagnation and burn out?

There are so many resources available to us. We should make it a priority to invest education as often as possible. Set a budget and plan for it. Take classes on all levels. Academies, demos, hands on workshops, and online classes are all great ways to keep things fresh. Knowledge is only powerful with action and implementation. If we can learn something new, challenge ourselves to use it, gamify it, find friends who will help compete and support, and use it to help people, then there is very little standing in the way of a successful and fulfilling career.