We’ve broken this startup thing

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how our ideals and idols are totally broken and that we needed to re-evaluate how we work on, and within online / digital / technology companies.

So I was quite sad to see another idol admitting that same brokenness. [1]

I’m trying to figure out when and why it became so acceptable for us to:

  • Leave the office at 7pm AND then go home to work some more.
  • Not take any kind of non-working holiday.
  • Work every single weekend.
  • Compromise on every single aspect of our lives in favour of work.

The thing is that this has really become the norm within our industry, so whenever a new entrepreneur or startup employee wants to figure out how they’re supposed to succeed, we tell them to “Hustle!”. We direct them at the most prominent and experienced bloggers within our space, who will perpetuate this “work/life balance isn’t really important; you just need to work really hard” BS.

Even though I’ve seen more and more entrepreneurs speaking out against this recently, their voices are literally being drowned out by the mad-hustling-rush of the crowd.

Be the change you want to see in the world

Cliché I know, but I figured that I needed to change first before I could speak up about this. In the past 2 months I’ve found a drastic improvement within my own life due to various changes that I’ve made. And I’m so much happier because of it.

Here’s some of the changes that I’ve made: [2]

  • I removed e-mail from my iPhone. Completely. I’m not even logged into my Gmail / Google accounts, so can’t just fire up Safari and read mail. This has greatly reduced my “dependency” to be connected and I’ve managed to mentally shut off from work so much easier. (h/t Harj Taggar)
  • I try be at the office at 7am and then I make sure I’m home at around 4pm. Once home, I don’t touch my computer at all for anything. Even “I quickly want to check tomorrow’s weather” turned into quickly checking in on work. So I removed the temptation completely.
  • I try not to touch work at all on weekends, meaning I don’t even discuss ideas / challenges / plans with my wife on weekends.
  • I’ve forced myself to delegate more tasks to team members and not take responsibility for things that I don’t have to be responsible for. As CEO this is hard, as these things ultimately come back to me, but I’m trying to trust my team more.
  • Most things aren’t important and I don’t need to spend time (physical or mental) dealing with those things now. This mantra applies especially to e-mail.
  • When I spend time with my wife or son, I just spend time with them. I fully immerse myself in that moment and I try being the best husband or dad that I can be within that moment. This challenge has become a “game” to me and appeals to my ambitious nature, which has given me an alternative outlet (for that ambition) instead of relying on my work for that fulfillment.
  • I exercise more, I take Magnesium supplements to sleep better and I take vitamin supplements to keep me energized during the day.
  • I’ve picked up film photography as a hobby and ultimately a positive distraction from work.

These may not work for everyone, but I could recommend that you try only one thing, it would be to remove e-mail from your mobile devices; it’s so easy to do, but has such a big impact in effecting a change in your life.

I also wholeheartedly agree with Micah Baldwin that things don’t need to be in balance to be in balance. Balance is whatever makes you happy at any given time.

Ultimately it’s not even about making any changes, but at the very least re-evaluating why and how you are living your life. This “more, better, quicker”-mindset is becoming old and it’s become very evident that it’s not sustainable for any kind of long-term period.

We can create and breed better life habits. To get there though, we need to question everything and re-learn what we thought we knew about working, living and finding a happy balance.

[1] I’ve never met Rand personally and would love to do so one day. The post and link wasn’t meant to call him out in any way and instead I applaud him for wanting to make a change and being open / transparent about that.

[2] I’ve not perfected all of these, but I’ve already experienced a significant change in my life.

Image: Mike Baird

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