Long hours, plus a 24×7 obsession with work and related ghosts. The laptop pretty much always on, or if not, a conversation over the phone. The emotional highs and lows at exaggerated levels on an everyday basis. Delayed lunches, skipped breakfasts, and snacky dinners.
The above must sound very familiar to you if you’ve recently started something on your own.
It obviously takes a massive toll on the body. You’re very likely already nearing, or already into your thirties, and the body will soon stop taking kindly to sustained abuse. Health is wealth has a much more direct impact for you as an entrepreneur, so think a little about these.
You’re likely to have read – more than once – about drinking enough water, regularly, about cutting back on too much coffee and avoiding junk, about eating small healthy meals, frequently and not going hungry too long. You’ve also read up about exercise (and I think cycling solves that wonderfully well without taking any extra time out at all).
Here’s a few more, slightly less obvious ones.
Sleep, and that body clock thing
Sleep is a wonderful stress buster, and there’s little you can do to work around this one. Yes, it seems important to finish that feature tonight, and there’s so much you cannot seem to find enough time to do it, but cutting back on sleep is not going to help. Often, an inspired 30 minutes is all it takes to achieve a breakthrough, and a tired mind and body cannot find inspiration in much – not regularly, at least.
Different people sleep for different lengths of time. The debate between 6 hours or 8 won’t die anytime soon, and you should go with what works for you. But some discipline around it, and “switching off” a little before you actually go to sleep help derive the most out of it. Being regular is more important that long hours.
And yes, if you’re like me, those power naps help a lot.
Leisure, and what they call “Quality Time”
You might have a family. And very likely have friends, at least. One, those relationships are a big investment and the quality of your future life depends more on those than on anything the startup will make for you. Seriously.
There’s also a lot to disconnecting, as I earlier talked about. To just give the mind a break, de-stress and even keep your creativity alive.
It might be tough to do, but setting some time away for a trip to the movies with your loved ones, or a short vacation, or even a 15 minute conversation over a cup of tea in the morning goes a long way as an investment into yourself and the relationships that matter to you.
Without that phone popping up notifications, of course, please.
Optimism and hope are the currency the entrepreneur lives off. Its sounds easy, but maintaining a positive outlook is a real tough one through the huge highs and massive lows doing a startup always brings along with it. It takes time, and a deep belief in the face of things blowing up in your face – to stay hopeful, cheerful and feel fine. Putting on an act it one thing – being able to do it with nobody around is a toughie.
But as you start to get it – its liberating – and keeps you going. Its got to be good for your health!
A lot many swear by it – and I personally feel it in a few moments that I get lost in a book, or on a ride, or something else I get very involved in. Like someone said, yoga is a state with the absence of anxiety about the future, analysis of the past and where only the instant matters. Given the buzz inside an entrepreneur’s head, its non-trivial to attain this help – but even getting a little close with my feeble attempts towards this seems to help a lot. Its probably a great way to try and achieve a lot of the above!
Get a Coach
No, I do not mean you should hire an expensive life-coach – that can wait for the IPO and the big bucks. A spouse, or a close friend, or mentor can often play this role. Tell them explicitly you’d love for them to watch your health – both physical and mental – and not shy away from encouraging you to make changes.
That might just get you to justify the membership fee you paid the neighbourhood gym a couple of months ago :)
The old overused cliche of a healthy body being able to support a healthy mind is – well – it got repeated that often for a good reason. As an entrepreneur, you are your startup in its early days. More than the product or your promises, people invest in you, customers believe you and early employees buy your vision. You owe it to all these folks to take care of yourself.
– More from Pi of Life:
Question for Entrepreneurs: Entrepreneur, What If You Die Today? [Family & Personal Finance]