As we all know, founding a company is incredibly nerve-racking. People start their businesses because they are passionate about their vision and want to solve a particular problem. While it's often gratifying, the pressure of constantly evolving the business and creating value for customers can quickly lead to depression, self-doubt, and finally, burnout.
Luckily, the topic of founders' wellbeing, both mental and physical, is becoming more and more understood and well-established in conversations between founders and investors.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into this subject, discuss the importance of founders’ wellbeing and share some simple but effective activities anybody can do to achieve and maintain the health of their body and mind.
WHY FOUNDER WELLBEING MATTERS?
Founders are the core pillars of their business. From the company’s inception, they are its crucial asset and, therefore, their wellbeing greatly influences the company’s performance.
When founders have a clear vision, they can attract initial investments and bring their first product to life. When they can relay the passion and vision they have for their business onto others, they’re able to build teams they can trust and support networks around them. It's their energy and ability to sell and persuade that draws the first customers in, gaining the necessary traction on the market and helping the company become viable.
However, to achieve all this, the founders need their bodies rested and their minds sharp. Even the venture capitalist and, generally, people investing in the business are becoming increasingly aware of this:
A founder's mental and physical wellbeing is critical to the overall success of any new venture. If we are to help more start-ups succeed, we need to ensure that we encourage founders to acknowledge the connection between their health and the performance of their start-ups.
- Amanda Price, Head of High Growth Ventures, KPMG.
WHAT DOES THE DATA SHOW?
Even though the importance of founders’ wellbeing is clear and widely established, the research reveals a rather bleak reality regarding their overall mental and physical health.
According to the data obtained from different research and sources, almost 80% of founders say running a business has negatively impacted their mental health. At the same time, a vast percentage of founders, about 70%, claim they don't do anything about it because they’re feeling helpless. Instead, they simply accept the situation, giving up on taking any actions to improve it.
In the modern, fast-paced world, with more information shared than ever in human history, it’s easy to forget about what really matters - health. But, to continue doing great things, founders need to carve out some time to take care of their body and mind.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO IMPROVE YOUR WELLBEING?
There are some small things you can do to help you re-shift your thinking and behavior and improve your wellbeing. These include:
Creating dialog and being open-minded: This is perhaps the most crucial step. We live in an era of anxiety and depression, and talking about it is still taboo. Around the world, there's a certain stigma shrouding mental health, and reaching for help is seen as a weakness. But, there's nothing wrong to seek help if you feel like you need it and talk openly about what troubles you with your friends, family, or a therapist;
Building a support network: This goes hand in hand with the previous step. To start and foster a healthy dialog and gain new perspectives, you need to surround yourself with a network of people with similar interests and who may be going through the same problems as you. You can also benefit greatly from having a mentor and a coach. With mentors, you can share knowledge and experiences, helping you gain a new outlook. While coaches are there to help you stay accountable;
Investing in developing new skills: This is about developing skill sets that can help you raise awareness and better understand the world around you. And these include learning how to become a better communicator and listener and building emotional intelligence. You can also work on more creative skills, such as coding or designing. With these, you'll exercise different parts of your brain and learn new ways of processing information;
Exercising regularly: The physical and mental health are closely connected. Staying fit and taking care of your body will give you enough energy and will for later tasks. Besides, by empowering yourself to do yoga or get on a bike for twenty minutes each day, you’re developing willpower as a skill set;
Getting enough sleep: Another way of making sure you stay healthy is by getting enough sleep and introducing healthy sleep hygiene. When your body is resting, so is your mind. This will help you rejuvenate and get energized so you can handle everything the next day might bring;
Taking vacations: Immersing yourself in different environments can make a tremendous difference in how you think and feel. It's not about luxury but rather about removing yourself from your everyday environment and visiting culturally different places with different customs, food, and language. It can force you to think and operate in a different manner and help gain new experiences and perspectives.
In the time of the pandemic, however, this might be challenging. But you can always take a road trip on the weekends, drive to different neighborhoods, check out the locals, and simply disconnect from your day-to-day routine;
Meeting friends and family: Human connections are paramount to maintaining mental health and happiness. Again, in the world of the pandemic, this is limited to occasional phone calls. Even though you're not meeting in person, maintaining contacts and communicating are equally important;
Building rituals and boundaries: And finally, for all of these things to come to fruition, you need to build rituals and habits around them. And, to be able to work these habits into your daily routine, you need to make time for them and set boundaries for yourself and others to protect yourself from anything that can push you off the track.
However, building new behavioral patterns can be tough. You can use this framework as a starting point, showing you all the small steps you can take one-at-a-time. Besides having positive long-term effects on your wellbeing, these activities will also help you build specific skill sets:
Tips to Help You Start and Stick to It
Tip #1. - Start small: It's important to remember that you shouldn't strive for perfectionism, but take one bite at a time and work on your improvements gradually. Be kind to yourself and your body, and don't push it too hard. If you want to pick up exercising, start by a quick walk and work your way up step-by-step.
Tip #2. - Keep track: To keep yourself accountable, create a journal where you'll put in all your goals and report daily on how far you've come. Whether you plan to start a healthier diet, read a book, or take some time off and disconnect, scheduling these plans in your journal will help you stay motivated. It's a fun way of visualizing your progress, giving your brain a dopamine boost when you accomplish something and the will to stay on track.
For this purpose, you can make use of some to-do list apps, such as Streaks App, or simply create an Excel sheet - whatever works for you.
In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It's not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.
- Tony Robbins.
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