I am approached a lot by curious people who wonder how I’m always able to stay “energetic”. That my energy is contagious – that I’m constantly smiling. They almost don’t believe it. People think I’m always on the go and that I never sleep.
I’m here to debunk this and to share a few tips I’ve learned along the way to help maintain an energetic, healthy lifestyle while being a founder. Hope this helps.
Find Your Own Tempo
Not everyone needs to work 20 hours every day. Quite honestly, if you’re doing this you’re probably doing something wrong. Yes, some days you may need to – you can push yourself – but the perception that this is consistently so is just wrong. It just doesn’t happen.
I believe that everyone has a peak number of hours that they can truly be productive – then following hours are just diminishing marginal returns in work results. You’ll know your peak – you can feel it. Then you start browsing Facebook. Then you start checking your phone. You need a break.
Find a setup where you know when you’re the most inspired and productive. If it’s not at 9am, don’t force yourself. Optimizing time means knowing which hours you’ll get more done in 60 minutes than some get done in an entire day. It’s possible and it’s the secret that most people don’t share. There will be time devoted to your team, to meetings, to
phone calls, decks, product, e-mail, and more. Leave your most inspired hours to brainstorm, mind map, and question the status quo.
Finding your own tempo means knowing when to spend time with others, to absorb energy. I love doing this. I need to be around people who are just as happy as me to feel like there are others just as excited about life. Stop hanging out with people that make you want to fall asleep.
Stop Reading the News so Much
The worst thing to happen since the dawn of the internet is this insatiable need to want to check everything all the damn time. Remember that you are living your own life – spending too much time reading about other people’s lives is only wasting time you could be spending living your own. Make your own path, and realize that news focuses on the lightning strikes – the notable stories – and concentrates them into a firehose.
Sometimes it’s encouraging and inspiring. But when it becomes FOMO (find out what this stands for if you don’t know), and when it becomes less encouraging and more discouraging, disconnect and find your own tempo.
Find Your Source of Wonder
This is directly tied to everything above. Your tempo involves not taking a “break”, or going on “vacation”. As a founder, there’s no such thing. You’re constantly thinking about your company and what you’ve potentially missed, new ideas, and about your next moves. You’ll never be able to turn it off. But you can certainly distract yourself with a good dose of wonder.
Whether this is travel (it is for me), or reading, or listening to a good symphony – find something that you can just tilt your head and go “woah”. I think wonder literally lights up your brain and gives you something more than you can’t get from just looking at a computer screen. It’s all of your senses. It’s the curiosity that triggers a part of your brain that you haven’t triggered for a while. It gives you a natural high.
I always will remember the whooshing feeling you get stepping out of a train station or an airport to a completely foreign place. It’s a magical thing and I will continue to seek it out like a drug.
My friend Omer Perchik from Any.DO posted this video of a TED talk on smiling recently. He’s a smiley guy. That’s why I like him. This TED talk talks about the power of smiling and something that I’ve always abided to without even knowing about this talk.
Smiling makes you happy – there’s a lot of research that tries to prove it, but who cares about the research. At the end of the day, if people around you see that you’re happy, they are bound to be happy. A smile is the best way to disarm a grumpy person. Get them wondering why you’re so happy. Because, at the end of the day, life is pretty good when you think about it.
One thing that struck me when visiting countries like Vietnam and Cambodia when I went on exchange in Southeast Asia back when I was in University was just how happy everyone was. I remember sitting in the front seat of the bus and talking to a tour guide who was bringing us to Ha Long Bay (a breathtakingly gorgeous place, by the way). We talked about his life and I remember him mentioning that he recently got a candy bar cell
phone. I asked him if he liked it. He said he hated it, because now that he had it his girlfriend expected him to text her all the time. He didn’t even know he needed to do that until he got it. It hit me that as our lives appear to get better, it sometimes makes us unhappier.
Smile – try it. Smile big. You won’t regret it.
Try Being You and Stop Second Guessing Yourself
My version of this is talking loudly, occasionally making a funny, and drinking coffee like water. When we get older we are always reminded that we need to act “adult”. The funny thing is sometimes the most childish adults are called “eccentric”. They’re given a ticket to be the unique one because they’ve decided that life is too short to conform to holding your mouth and being civil.
Of course there are inappropriate moments not to yell like a sailor, but it’s important to let loose once in a while in a situation that doesn’t necessarily involve alcohol and karaoke. Follow your gut, be spontaneous, and do what you want to do. Anytime you feel like you’re
being thrown into a situation you don’t want to do, I feel like it eats at you. Don’t let that happen too often. If that’s happening too much, you need to figure out why. Maybe you’re hanging out with the wrong people.
There are many more ways to harness the energy within you. Be active and drink life up. Remember to give yourself something to look forward to. If you’ve done it right, you should look forward to every day.