DIARY OF A FOUNDER
Finding Balance as a Startup Founder
I can easily see myself slipping into the mindset that if I work ridiculously hard now while I’m young skipping out on vacations and other family/friend outings, then later in life I’ll have everything I ever wanted and more. I’ll one day be able to spend all the time with family and go on all the vacations in the world and do whatever I desired. I just have to pay the price now.
That’s a common mindset for the ambitious and motivated. It’s how we justify our lack of balance, lack of family/friend time, and general lack of completeness. We’re giving up now for the promise of tomorrow. We mask it as vision and sacrifice.
It’s enticing. It’s reasonable. But to me it’s wrong.
Just last weekend I missed a secondary school classmates wedding all because am busy going for one business meeting that can be attended by someone else, I just have to show how committed I am to my startup and I missed the wedding after promising to attend.
For many, the promise of tomorrow never arrives. For the lucky few who achieve it, it takes much longer than anticipated. And usually, the sweet taste of success will leave us wanting more. Our commitment as a young, hungry mercenary work insane hours now to play later is long forgotten. We never believe we arrive. Tomorrow always stays a day away.
That’s a treacherous path.
I don’t want to let life pass me by. I want to be there to see my son take his first steps. I want to be able to drop them in school and pick them up. I want to be side by side with my wife at parent teacher meeting, hearing of his struggles and triumphs. I want to tell him bedtime stories at night, and make him breakfast eggs in the morning.
I want to be there. For my son. For my wife. And for all the others who matter most to me. I want to be present.
Life will always be busy. I will always be working on something big and important. I will always be out hustling and creating. I will always have a default excuse of “I am simply too busy.” It’s my reality. It’s the path I’ve chosen.
But my most important work will never be a startup. The startups I create and the riches I acquire will not go with me to the grave or into the after life. The relationships I build will. Making myself available for those closest to me, whether attending a wedding or going for child dedication of family/friends, must be a priority to me.
It’s not easy, especially when work is so fun and fulfilling. To actually leave work, physically, mentally or emotionally, requires work. A lot of it. And for me, will requires discipline and practice. I’m still trying to figure it out. I’m still trying to find the perfect formula for balance.
I’m terrified of an outcome on the other end of the spectrum. One that involves me at my death bed, with all the riches in the world, but with no one around me. A world of regrets, wishing I would have spent more time with my wife and kids. Wishing I would have strengthened my relationships with good friends. Wishing I would have served and helped more people. Wishing I would have found the things that bring true happiness. A world of everything, but with nothing.
I’m happy to err on the side of too much friends and family. They bring the most happiness to my life. And they are who matter most. Maybe I just don’t know enough old people, but I’ve never met an old person wishing they would’ve spent more time at work.
Be careful when you give up today’s joy for tomorrow’s unknown. The destination will be sweeter if you stop to enjoy the path.
Watch out for a new episode.