What’s in your head? Only your startup’s future.
Monday rolls around, you wake up, grab your iPhone, quickly scan through 50 or so email subjects that have already been delivered in the wee hours of the morning — you are, after all, a startup founder based in San Francisco, California — the world seems to always get the early worm, leaving you with a perpetual state of anxiety at the crack of dawn.
7:15am: After a quick shower, a giant thermos of black coffee, and some Chinese food leftovers from last night, you hop in the car, and hustle through traffic to get to your 600 square foot office.
7:48am: Outside, your two co-founders are patiently waiting for you to open the door — which you had forgotten that you’re the only one with the front door key.
7:50am: You flip on the fluorescent lights, power up your Apple MacBook, and take another big gulp from your oversized thermos. As you fire up Outlook, a series of never ending emails fly into your computer screen, producing a series of chimes — ping, ping, ping, ping, ping — the anxiety from before begins to build, one popup screen at a time. The never ending brush fires from last week’s open customer support tickets continue to burst into on-going flames, signaling for someone to run over and digitally extinguish them. You look around the room at your two co-founders, who are totally engrossed with fixing website bugs that cropped up over the weekend; it’s up to you to bust out the fire extinguisher.
9:17am: After firing off two dozen or so emails, most of them a variant copy and pasted response to new order emails, messages from irate customers, and questions from your other co-founders on how to handle the version 2.0 launch, you begin to settle into your oversize Staples leather office chair. To digitally distract yourself from screen A, you open screen B on your iPhone. You tap Instagram, and scroll through the morning photo feed of the day filled with a series of hash-tagged photos — #MondayMotivation, #MondayThoughts, #TakeMeBack — you fervently thumb through photo after photo, before deciding which one will be granted the first heart shaped like of the day. But, the hashtags call you to make a mental choice — are you still wishing the weekend wasn’t over, in the #TakeMeBack crowd, or are you ready to slap yourself in the face and dig in with a dose of motivational empowerment to get through another one? You double tap on the #MondayMotivation post. You’re a founder, not a follower. We get shit done.
This is the life of an entrepreneur — a role that beckons us to routinely put the priorities of others above ours. We wake up, more than ready to tackle whatever the day may throw at us, with little regard for what we want out of the day. We delude ourselves into believing that if we help everyone else with their issues, requests, transactions, and demands, that eventually, somewhere, we might get what we want by day’s end — some increased sales, a little forward momentum, and the fulfillment of doing the job that needs to get done.
The problem with this “serve the world, serve myself later” approach is that it rots us emotionally from the inside.
Instead of happily wanting to help our customers with their issues, answer our team members queries, or respond favorably to a new creative idea, entrepreneurs can quickly fall into the autonomous daily trap of feeding the world, while we ourselves starve.
Because emotions drive actions, and actions drive outcomes, entrepreneurs must start their day the right way — by taking care of themselves first, before they dedicate themselves to taking care of the entire world’s needs.
Why? Entrepreneurial self-health is so vitally important, because without checking in with ourselves to gauge how we are feeling on a daily basis, we can easily become victims of our own routines. The rocky rollercoaster ride that comes along with the territory of launching and growing a new company is guaranteed to take its mental, emotional and even physical toll on our bodies.
So we need to design our day in a way that positions us to make the best possible choices that fulfill our entrepreneurial wells first, so that we can be ready to fulfill those of others.
I implore all entrepreneurs to start their work day with either a routine, an impromptu exercise, meditation, a 15 minute motivational music session, or a nutritious home-cooked meal (chew slowly, stop staring at your iPhone while you eat! — this is your time).
It’s so critical to take time for yourself, get balanced, and tackle the day from a centered place where motivation can flourish, not where obligation drains your emotional well — your startup’s future is counting on you, so let’s get your head right before we head out for the day.