This is a topic that unfortunately gets lost amidst the stressful activities of modern life. Both in the startup ecosystem and in other fields, people often forget about their own well-being, a fact that can lead to a slew of problems later in life. So today’s article serves as a reminder to take a break from running your company, and address the all-important question: How do I manage myself (as a startup founder)?
Running (on Fumes)
Many founders sacrifice sleep every night to work harder on their company’s goals, worrying about its future success, believing that it is a worthwhile trade-off. However, chronic lack of sleep can have terrible side effects.
Several studies have demonstrated that sleep deprivation can damage your body just as much as alcohol would. Moreover, it can lead to a compromised immune system, as well as emotional instability, which can then backfire onto your social circle, or even your family.
My advice here is to always ensure you sleep at least 8 hours each night, in a completely dark room that is neither too warm nor too cold. Ideally you should go to sleep at the same time every day, to form a healthy habit. Exceptions happen, but a regular sleep schedule is crucial for your well-being.
Running (for Real)
Another reality of modern life is that we are increasingly drawn to a sedentary lifestyle. Those long hours at the office and interminable meetings mean that you’ll be sitting for most of the day.
Thus, it is vital that you treat yourself like a professional athlete. Your body needs to move and be continually pushed to improve, otherwise we atrophy. Ideally you want to hit the gym 5 times a week, 3 times for strength training, 2 times for cardio sessions. In addition, you will want to figure out which exercises you enjoy doing the most, to stay motivated long enough to form a habit out of working out. It should be engaging, not a chore.
You should try to control what you eat and drink, as your diet has a tremendous impact on your performance. The obvious advice is to avoid eating simple sugars and fried foods on a regular basis, as well as alcohol. Again, exceptions happen, but they should be just that. Exceptions.
Try to get a good and balanced diet complete with:
Of course, this can be very difficult as we all have cravings, but overall managing your diet will yield great short- and long-term benefits.
It is very important that you do not forget about your social circle. Your friends, parents, and partner should not be neglected. Make sure that you spend quality time with them every week, as they will be with you through the good times as well as the bad. Maintaining strong social ties is paramount for your well-being, as they form your support group.
Also, be open to outside input. You should be willing to learn new things, which can be done through social interactions, reading, watching meaningful YouTube videos, or listening to great podcasts. It is important that you reserve time to work on your own personal development, because the more you learn, the more creative you may become, as you form connections and come up with new ideas to solve problems at work and in life in general.
At the end of the day, stop and sit down to think about your day. Go over what you did, what you learned, what went well, what went wrong, and write it all down.
This can help you strengthen the day’s learnings or come up with new ideas. It is also a good tool for emptying your mind before bed, as well as setting the right perspective, as you get a broader picture of what was accomplished.
Daily meditation sessions, as well as a weekly 1 hour walk through nature (without your smartphone) will give you time to relax, to think, and to focus on what is truly important.
One thing that will help you greatly is to write down your Life Goals. Then, each year you should sit and write down goals you wish to accomplish. These Yearly Goals should move you closer towards achieving a Life Goal. In turn, the Yearly Goals can then be broken up into Quarterly Milestones, to make them easier to accomplish.
The goals themselves will change, that is natural. What matters is that you have a clear picture of what you are aiming at. Having something to aim at is key, as it helps you to set the course you wish to follow.
With your goals written down, you can then set about planning your weeks in advance, such as Sunday or Monday morning. This way, you will have a clear view of what needs to be done, and in what order.
Additionally, reflect on when you are most productive, and plan accordingly. Maybe you are most productive at night, or in the morning. Knowing this about yourself will go a long way.
Finally, there is something that needs to be said. If you feel that you do not know what to do, if you need additional support, then do not hesitate to ask for help. No matter what it is, there are people out there that can help you achieve your goals and aid you with the challenges you are facing.
It is not only right, but vital that you are able to seek help to maximize and achieve your full potential. There is no need to feel ashamed or to think that you must do it all by yourself. We are only human, and as such we must be able to rely on each other when we can’t do things on our own. That is how we learn, and adapt, and overcome adversity.