The silent but deadly Startup killer… Skill avalanches

Some skills can be impactful towards your career… sometimes in the way of pushing you to build more and more skills, until eventually, you’re not quite sure what you do anymore.

Life can begin to feel like this, tons of snow and no cottage in sight.

Are you one of those people who like charging in? Kicking ass, taking names, and proving you’re on a warpath to success?

Me too.

A common problem people like this (or just curious people in general) get is what I like to call a “skill avalanche,” too many built up skills crashing down on you and you being unsure of what to focus on or what to do with them. In the world of startups, a lot of founders run into this problem.

I’m someone that suffers from depression. I survive day-to-day by trying to keep positive and be upbeat, but this is one thing that takes me down at the knees. It’s hard to stay happy when you feel disconnected.

I hate boredom.

Boredom is a source of discomfort, boredom is a loss of joy. Boredom is doing a specific job for too long and not being able to mix it up. What does this mean is next?

Skill avalanche time.

The more I want to wear different hats, the more skills I build, the more I get strung out, the more stressful it all gets, and then I lose where I want to focus. I was a writing specialist at one point, now I’m somehow in marketing, design, bizdev, and everything else that I can be.

Being a specialist comes with a few perks:

  • Easier jobs (people who learn a lot of skills don’t fit in super well in all big companies)
  • Easier to know what you do (focusing on a lot of skills and tasks can get you pretty wound up or lost when you need to work)
  • More measurable success (you know what you do and why it’s easier to measure whether you’re doing it or not)
  • More support from others (being able to focus on a specific task and have others on other tasks means you’re not accountable for a whole slew of things)

Skill avalanches are caused by too much stress, too little time to breathe, and losing your bearings on your job future.

Take a deep breath, the water isn’t shallow.

So what do I do about this?

Well, if you relate to what I’m saying maybe I can help.

Ask yourself a few questions for me, would you?

  • Where did I start?
  • What did I do last?
  • What is my dream job?
  • When did I last take a break?
  • Did I close the fridge?

Now how do you feel? pretty bad about leaving the fridge open, huh?

These sorts of questions can help you center yourself and remember where you want to focus yourself.

I have a friend who wanted to get into frontend development so they could build their own MVP to hire devs… a few weeks later they walked in super proud because they built their backend and frontend for the MVP, but they were totally strung out and hadn’t been sleeping well.

This is a lot of what startup life is glorified as, but why should we beat ourselves up over trying to reach our goals? Wanting to run a startup isn’t bad, you just need to take care of yourself. Without self-care and checking up on yourself you could get hurt.

Your life is more than just right now, and we need to care for ourselves. Our impatience can cause stress, identity struggles, and sleeplessness. Crazy what we can do to ourselves.

Coffee, tablet, book, and forgetting to shave.

Try taking breaks to eat, drink, sleep, play games, read a book, maybe even nap or go for a bike ride. It’s not a waste of time.

Do whatever makes you happy and gets your mind off of work, it will be there when you come back (For those of you working 8-hour shifts, relax when you go home and actually take the time off).

Next time you have a skill avalanche, what do you plan to do? Hopefully, you’ll take care of yourself.

If you liked the article, please feel free to follow me and watch for more articles about self-care, startups, or cats.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by +367,690 people.

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