We’ve all read the stories about entrepreneurs who work 16 hours a day and don’t take a day off for months on end. But I personally believe that balance is key to success. Working hard is necessary, but so is rest. I’ve learnt from experience that spending time away from work to refresh will only amplify results and allow me to work more efficiently and productively.
Andrew Fennell, Founder
Is there a dark side to the creative commitment and energetic drive that propels founders forward?
Research from the University of California discovered that nearly half of all entrepreneurs will have to deal with at least one major mental health episode during their career, such as addiction, depression or anxiety.
According to the WHO this represents double the global average of one in four people being affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives.
The action words that are often used to characterise founders…
…must be built on a firm bed of wellbeing if they are not to result in…
While cutting corners on sleep, relaxation, exercise and healthy eating may appear inevitable they can only offer short-term benefits.
Over time skimping on these will start to negatively affect you and your business.
Let’s take a look at how you can ensure that you maintain your energy through an equally determined focus on your own health and wellbeing.
Don’t be down on down-time
One of the top three traits of a gifted leader is knowing when to take time out for yourself. It’s so easy to let your work dominate your life, but putting time aside to switch off and not think of work does the world of good and allows you to step back and reset.
Ellie Hernaman, Founder
Your schedule is important.
But it’s just as important that you schedule time for your wellbeing.
That way you can make sure you always have set aside periods for a bit of ‘me-time’. This could be working out, having a massage, a meal out with family, downward dogging on a yoga mat or kicking back with your guitar. As long as the focus is on taking care of you.
It’s going to be tough to squeeze in – but, you manage to squeeze in those extra meetings and business calls, don’t you?
You can manage to fit work, rest, play and family into each day. And if it means actually planning it in, then block that time out and stick to it just as you do all your other commitments.
Food for thought
One great way to create me-time is to cook your own meals.
The health benefits of home cooking, rather than eating pre-prepared meals, are well documented but the mental health benefits are less well known.
Here’s the thing:
Taking time to prepare a meal is the perfect way to carve space in your day to relax. And those who do so create not just dishes but a rush of happiness and contentment.
Not sure you agree – take a look at the scientific studies that back this up.
Turn off and tune out
Gifted leaders look after themselves – if you put too much in and don’t think about your own energy, you will likely come up short or even crash and burn. Without self-care, you’ll potentially make bad decisions, make mistakes and maybe even upset your team and customers.
Ian Hacon, Founder
Devices are essential to business communication.
But there was a time when we did not have to be always plugged in and always engaged.
Make a conscious decision that whatever it is, it can wait. Turn off your mobile, do not open that laptop and forget sneak-peeking at that tablet.
Go offline and enjoy a life without instant information and feedback every now and then. (At this point we hesitate to mention that ideas on which business breakthroughs often hinge frequently come when you are concentrating on something else entirely. But it is true!)
Set aside some time – hey, maybe even a day – to not catch up but to drift and enjoy the moment. The problem with social media, email and instant messaging are the way they force you to react. Taking time away from them, and the screens that feed them to us 24/7, lets your brain take stock and gives you that time to wholeheartedly connect with your family and friends.
Look back for inspiration
Every successful founder has a clear vision of where they are going and what they are trying to achieve. Without this clarity you can’t focus your efforts, your determination or your team. The vision needs to identify where you’re going, how you’ll get there and what success looks like for you, your team and for the business. Whilst there will be times when you deviate from the plan or even pivot, there always needs to be a clear mission and road map to achieve success.
Neil Purcell, Founder
Things go wrong. Sometimes disastrously.
When setbacks seem to be fencing you in it is vital that you maintain some form of perspective by remembering that original vision.
By looking back to this you can once more look forward. And now harden your resolve by focussing on the more solid ground of your OKRs.
Those setbacks diminish – but still smart – as the bigger picture opens out new space for you and reveals the achievements already in place.
Happiness and wellbeing are actually best regarded as skills.
Richard Davidson, Founder and Professor of Psychology
One of the great skills that most founders almost innately have is to identify the skills they lack and make sure they surround themselves with those talented in these areas.
When it comes to health and wellbeing, however, there is no ‘skill by proxy’ option open to you.
If you do not have the ‘skills’ for happiness, health and wellbeing you need to acquire them.
And sooner, because later may be too late.