I was one of the lucky few that was able to snag a seat for Quick Left Startup Life Event In Boulder (sold out) where Brad Feld and Amy Batchelor will be promoting their new book, “Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur.”
It then occurred to me that Brad Feld is one of the few people in the startup world actually creating a dialog about self-care, work-life balance, and having a life outside of work.
Similar to Brad and Amy, my wife and I plan our vacations a year ahead. We then build our work schedule around our vacation, even if we don’t know where we’ll be going during vacation.
Brad and Amy are not alone in evangelizing a balanced startup lifestyle. I put together some posts written by other founders on this subject and wanted to share them with you.
Yeah, this one is gonna get a little touchy feely. Deal with it. This discussion needs to happen. To set the tone, we’ll start with…
DHH questions the absurd myth that founders need to work 80 hours a week in order to get their startups launched.
“It’s been a long time since there was a direct correlation with the number of hours you work and the success you enjoy. It’s an antiquated notion from the days of manual labour that has no bearing on the world today. When you’re building products or services, there’s a nonlinear connection between input and output. You can put in just a little and
still get out a spectacular lot.”
Continuing the theme of time management, when you first start out as a founder, time shifts, priorities get moved around, and all of sudden, you’re losing more time than you’re gaining. It happens. The trick isn’t to figure out how to get more into your day, it’s about taking out the stuff that doesn’t matter, and so that only your priorities remain.
“Make peace with the limitations of time and your body -if you are giving 14 hours of work plus active monitoring and engagement to your startup online then you are maxing out. If you feel like this isn’t propelling you forward then re-assess what you are doing, don’t blame it on how much.“
The title pretty much says it all. If you’re a founder, you’ll burn out fast if you don’t take care of yourself. You have to think about the long run.
- You need to set goals… that you can commit to
- The beginning is always the best part… then the pain comes
- It’s always easier with support… find a coach or mentor
- The prep-work will have a huge impact
- Things you don’t expect to go wrong, will.
- You need to have fun
- Running out of money (water) is very bad!
- It’s a mental game… against yourself.
Whether you’re a hacker or hustler, a designer or developer, an entrepreneur or CEO, your greatest asset is your mind, but only if you keep it sharp. If you think you can sacrifice happiness for more productivity, think again. Unhappiness actually leads to less productivity.
“Yes, I know that negative emotions can eat away at my productivity, creativity, decision-making skills. And yet, I have to admit that sometimes it’s really difficult to reverse the course of a slump. The unfortunate superpower of the negative is that it has a stronger impact than the positive. In fact negative impact of setbacks in your work is three times as powerful in affecting motivation than positive progress. It’s just easier to remember the bad stuff that has happened to you during the day than the good.”
Walter Chen provides some tips on how to harness the power of positivity to keep your mind sharp. Told you this would get touchy feely:
- At the end of each day, make a list of three specific good things that happened that day and reflect on what caused them to happen
- Take a minute to say thanks or recognize someone for their efforts, from friends and family to people at work.
- Do something nice. Acts of kindness boost happiness levels. Something as small and simpleas making someone smile works.
- Mind your mind. Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment without judgment. Opening our awareness beyond the narrowness of negativity can help bring back more balance and positivity into the picture.
As a founder, you are also a leader. If you’re unhappy, it will contaminate the culture and vice versa. The most important element of a workspace is not the furniture, it’s the culture. Happiness is important. But can it be scaled? Let’s ask the guy who literally wrote the book on building a business around happiness.
No matter how many self-help books you read, sometimes, what you really need is help from others. Kate Kendall considers herself to be a fairly self-reliant person. Even she advises against being hypnotized by the absurd startup lore of “doing it all alone”. The truth is, you can’t do it alone, nor should you.
“So, if you’re more like me. Get out there and find the advice and support you need. Speak up for it… consistently. It’s not being shameless or weak, it’s being smart.”
If you’re feeling stressed, stuck, lost, scattered, or just unhappy… please… PLEASE… ask for help. Talk to someone. Talk to your mentor. Talk to a coach. Talk to a therapist. Just start talking and sharing with people who are most important in your life.
As Kate Kendall said, asking for help when you actually need it is NOT an act of weakness. It actually takes a tremendous amount of courage to be vulnerable enough to ask for help. I hope you find the courage to ask for help if you need it.
“We live in a culture that tells us… that we are not not ‘extraordinary‘ enough. Somehow, in this world… an ‘ordinary life‘ has become synonymous with a ‘meaningless life‘…we are missing what is truly ‘important‘ for what is ‘extraordinary‘ … not understanding that it is in the ordinary moments in our lives that we’ll find the most joy in our lives.”
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