It’s Sunday, but you’re still slogging away at your laptop.
You’ve been so busy fretting about all the things you need to do that you can’t recall the last time you enjoyed a good meal with your family.
You haven’t slept well in weeks.
How long more can you do this?
It’s lonely because nobody has a clue where your startup is going. All the ideas that seemed so brilliant still haven’t quite taken off.
While you’re anxiously trying to build something new, your savings deplete faster than you can say ”entrepreneurship.”
You thought you were ready for the long working hours, the isolation and near-zero profits.
But now you can’t help wondering if you’re mistaken.
The status quo is killing everyone
You’re not alone in dedicating your soul to your business.
63% of entrepreneurs work between 40-59 hours every week, even though only 43% want to do so.
About one in five entrepreneurs work 60-hour weeks, although only 1% want to do so.
Heck, Elon Musk clocks 120-hour work weeks.
Maybe that’s the problem.
Entrepreneurs tend to wear these long hours like a badge of honour. They’ll fight tooth and nail to drag themselves through day and night, because long hours are the norm.
Behaving any differently would invite gossip that you were slacking off.
But what if you stood your ground and focused on building a life on your own terms?
Wouldn’t it be awesome to have proper weekends, clock less hours than an office worker and still get things done?
Afterall, you probably left the stability of a 9-to-5 to call the shots in when and how you worked.
Make less money than you want
Let’s face it.
Your business is for-profit. It has a million ways to scale up and rake in big bucks.
Most people start on an endless chase for money, but you can stop and choose differently.
This monthly rate is the bare minimum you need to spend every month. It’s an internal benchmark for what is necessary for your survival.
Repeat the above steps throwing in money for insurance, savings and vacation and any other times that you were tight on cash. This second monthly rate is what you need to live comfortably.
Instead of feeling like money is never enough, you now know that once you hit these numbers every month, you can breathe a bit easier.
Any additional money you make is a bonus.
The best part?
You can play around with the number of billable hours, days and weeks, factoring in time for yourself, your family and your friends and other commitments.
This is essential in sustaining your mental health in the long run.
Accomplish more by doing less
You’ll never run out of things to do for your startup.
Much like profits, your business will have endless possibilities for growth.
But your time and energy are fixed resources.
What are the three most important goals you want to accomplish within the next one year - be it for yourself, your relationships or your startup?
Choosing only three things forces you to focus, and say no to the rest.
What’s next is breaking down each goal into smaller, measurable steps.
Do marketing for your startup, for example, is way too big and nebulous to be accomplished in one day. It’s likely to catapult you down the rabbit hole of procrastination and anxiety.
Try narrowing it down into something more specific:
Have a booth at the next conference.
Great! But it still sounds pretty vague.
Email conference organiser to ask about having a booth.
When is the next conference though?
Google upcoming conferences.
This is a single task that is achievable in one day.
One hour, even.
All that’s left to do is to shift it into your schedule and do it.
Piece of cake!
Make the dream bigger, and the steps to get there smaller.
Andrew Simonet, Founder of Artists U
Break down your two other goals in the same way.
You now have a streamlined approach to accomplishing what currently matters the most to you.
This gives you the time, energy and mental capacity to attend to other facets of your life that bring you balance and peace, rather than being swamped by work.
Taking care of yourself also allows you to recharge and power through the long journey ahead.
Motivate yourself with one simple trick
Take it from Wil Schroter, CEO of Startups.co:
It takes at least 4 years just to get pointed toward a real business, and ... 7-10 years to make your startup truly the success that you had in mind.
Keeping an eye on your personal finances and maintaining your mental fitness increase the chance that you’ll connect with the purpose of your work despite all its twists and turns.
It’s important to separate your life purpose from your business venture so you can check-in frequently on whether your startup is still meaningful.
If so, jot down the reasons for its significance.
Pin it up on your wall where you’ll see it every day.
Whenever you’re losing direction, take a few deep breaths and look at your ‘why’.
Picture all the gifts you’d be sharing with the world through your startup.
Experience the exhilaration tingling in your bones.
Use these feelings to soldier on through boring or difficult work.
Enjoying life takes serious effort
It’s easier to accept burnouts as part-and-parcel of the entrepreneurial journey and resign yourself to being busy and stressed 24/7.
Things can be changed, but this requires force of will.
All of the suggestions above are simple enough for you to gain awareness of your financial, mental and emotional states and start taking ownership.
You’ll likely find greater clarity and peace in your days.
You’ll regain your ability to linger and enjoy the little moments - with yourself, your family, or your team.
You’ll feel in control of your schedule and life again.
Here’s to consciously dedicating time and energy to steering your ship.
It all starts with you choosing to do things differently today.