Mindfulness and Startups

Ever since I started this blog, I have been bugging my husband, Gabby, to contribute. He is a voracious reader and is one of my trusted resources when it comes to entrepreneurship and the start up life. He also writes much better than I do given his wealth of experience and the number of reading materials he juggles at any given time. His maiden article talks about two topics that are close to my heart. 

Startups can be all-consuming. A startup is a company searching for a repeatable and scalable business model. Before you get your product/market fit, you’re scrambling with limited time and money to find a product that works before your funding runs out. It feels like a race against the clock, and it’s very tempting to put the rest of your life on hold – family, exercise, diet and just dedicate everything to work, work, work.

I’m here to tell you now – been there, done that, and you will not only end up ruining your personal life, but it will endanger the health of your startup, too.

This is not about work/life balance or punching out after a 9-to-5 day. What I am asking you to is to evaluate your whole life, and integrate all the elements so that you are doing what you must be doing at this very moment, and nothing else.

Ultimately, mindfulness is about being in the present moment. When your mind is fully in the present, your ability to focus on a task expands and you are able to do whatever it is you need to do much better than when you are otherwise multitasking. Being productive is not about juggling a million little things to do every day – in my experience, identifying the top 3 things I need to do today, and doing only that and calling it a day has been much better for my productivity than being all over the place.

To be truly effective, you must constantly ask yourself, “What is the most important thing I should be working on today?” To answer this, you need to have a clear idea of what your short and long term goals are, and evaluate your tasks against the eventual completion of these goals. If a task doesn’t get you any nearer to the goal than before, then you probably don’t need to do it.
I’m not a 12-hour-a-day busy type of person, but as a business owner, it’s on my mind 24/7, always at the edge (or front and center) of my consciousness. This is why I also need structured time where I can put everything away and focus on my physical and mental health. For me this comes in the form of martial arts, namely boxing and Brazilian jiujitsu. Others may run, do yoga, or have another sport or hobby that is outside of their immediate work goals. During the time I am practicing martial arts, I feel fully alive, and nothing else matters in that moment. This allows me to feel fresh and energized the rest of the day, to tackle the challenges of startup life.

If you feel like life is moving too fast for you, don’t try to go faster. Stop. Take a moment to breathe. And practice some mindfulness. You might end up taking better control of your life.

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