Weekend Words: The Counterbalance
Sustainability is a result of a counterbalance
I love founders who are obsessed with what they’re doing and restless in their pursuit of solving the problem at hand or capturing the opportunity present in front of them. Beyond just being smart, they tend to have non-stop motors — essential if one is trying to build a massively successful business. The one thing many of these folks lack is the counterbalance.
I am writing this as a person looking to build good habits. While I want to be massively successful, I know that success should also be sustainable. Many of my mentors have been through periods where they fall into a cycle where they neglect their health (physical and mental) and their families in the process of building an empire.
A tension between your professional and personal goals might ultimately be a good thing. It represents the reality of life — there’s not balance, there’s integration. With that, for folks like me who love what I do, it’s tough at times to see you’re giving into the company building aspect of things. I am a guy who can get in a rut of waking up at 2am, scribbling down something that came to me and roll back over; waking up early to workout only to get into an industry deep dive on something unexpected; or spending a Saturday overindulging in understanding how a new technology works. I have come to realize though that my productivity, absorption, and impact is improved by being well-rounded.
Here’s what’s working for me to keep the vigor of what I do consistent. Ultimately, consistency drives sustainability. Sustainability is a hallmark of success but is a result of staying balanced and countering demanding forces in our lives.
- Getting ample rest. It’s not about a fixed time of sleep each night but knowing when I’m tired and when I’m not. It’s then using that self understanding, not fighting it, and acting accordingly
- Physical activity in the morning. It sucks to get back into a routine I was so good with a couple years ago. That being said, I feel like I’m 10x better person with that morning workout under my belt. When I punt to the afternoon, I just never get to it
- Eating healthy. I am learning how to do this sustainably where there’s sugar/sweets around or unhealthy food. I generally eat well but give myself the opportunity for a cheat once/week
- Blocking off time for family. I’m about to get married and I made a commitment to have Saturdays and Sundays, as needed, for my fiance and our development. We spend time trying to get outdoors or doing things we both enjoy (de-emphasize screen time). Similarly, I try to keep dinners as a non-tech affair. Emails can wait till evenings or after. She’s understanding of my work schedule and my love for what I do. That support is huge and needs to be developed till death do us part
- Blocking off time for personal indulgences. I have a couple side projects and making time for them is a way to ensure things move forward but also upholds efficiency and thoughtfulness behind what I set out to do. It won’t leak into family time or result in unnecessarily late nights
- Annual “unplug” trips. Each year, I try to go away and unplug but with realistic expectations. Get out of the office and journey to somewhere I haven’t been to experience the world. The idea isn’t to not use my phone entirely (I love taking photos of landscapes, researching the locality, and reading during these trips). It worked well in Switzerland and hopefully this fall where my honeymoon will serve this purpose as well. I highly suggest this — few things provide long-term renewal than some time away
- My puppies. Dogs are the ultimate source of therapeutic energy. Nothing is better than a walk with Rye to clear your head or playing with Barley around the house. It leaves one more relaxed and a relaxed mind is generally more effective than one that is wound up
A lot of these help me maintain my energy, focus, and approach to life. In fact, it helps me improve myself as I work with founders or need to tackle something on the personal side of things. Success is no good if it pops and drops. In fact, I wouldn’t call that success. Success is when we can be extraordinary on a consistent, regular basis. Find what helps you get there and drive it home.