Finding balance as a founder during the holidays

Devin Soule
Dec 22, 2022
Finding balance as a founder during the holidays
A lot of founders feel like they can't ever take a break. During the holidays it can feel like taking a break is yet another logistical obligation to add to your over-full plate, and that can make the end of the year feel less-than-fun. We've worked through our fair share of holidays, sometimes it might be worth it - but looking back, we feel like the majority of the time taking a break probably would have gotten us to our goals faster. Most of the time, whatever it was that we felt pressured to do could have waited a few days. The years when we've made some protected time to rest, reflect, and reset at the end of the year have been the most productive and rewarding in the new one. We aren't saying we're pros, but here are some things we like to remind ourselves of this time of year.

Practice gratitude

The benefits of a daily gratitude practice are endless. When working hard on a big vision, it's easy to take aspects of our lives and even people in our lives for granted. Taking a few minutes a day to reflect on the simple things that brighten up your day-to-day helps put whatever might be stressing you out into perspective.

Destress, consciously

Founders who go nonstop unconsciously let stress build up, and it takes a conscious effort to let it go. When business is typically quieter during the holidays, set aside time to do what helps you destress - meditate, find your way to nature, get a massage, take a hot bath - whatever it is that helps you breathe a little deeper and quiets your mind.

Do something that has nothing to do with startups

If you feel like you're even busier during the holidays attending end-of-year parties and talking about your startup, you're not alone. While it's an amazing time to connect with others, sometimes founders need to just do something that has nothing to do with their company. We'd suggest brainstorming a list of a few things that are totally unproductive, fun, silly, and pointless and put "dance party" at the top of that list.

Reconnect with small daily habits

Sometimes it's easy to let the basics slip and the holidays can be a great time to find new ways to jumpstart little but vital habits around sleep, exercise, nutrition, and meditation. The science is in and consistency around each one of those practices are essential to staying balanced while building a startup. Start small wins every day with focus on progress and consistency.

Make space to think BIG

A lot of the time we can get so focused on the next milestone in front of us that we don't make space to pick our heads up and make sure we're still connected to our big goal. Just grinding harder on what's in front of us usually isn't going to get us to the ultimate goal. Take yourself back to the days of endless possibility, loosen up your mind, reconnect with your curiosity, explore by learning something completely tangential, allow yourself to brainstorm around what the world would be like as a result of your startup. Reconnecting with your bigger purpose will help get you through the work ahead.

Set your pace for the year

Building a successful business is a marathon, not a sprint. When we don't pace ourselves we burn out and shut ourselves off from the potential we're building. Taking breaks throughout our day is essential for going the distance, but it's a habit just like anything else. For the days you are working during the holidays, practice blocking the day with space between tasks to give your brain a chance to recharge.

Ask for help :)

The holidays can be a particularly tough time - even if you aren't a founder fighting under immense pressure to keep your dream alive. There are far too many of us that feel we need to just tough it out and work our way out of stressful situations - but resilience isn't something you need to develop all on your own. If life's challenges, as a founder or otherwise, are feeling hard to navigate, there are people in your life and supportive communities out there who will jump at the opportunity to help you if asked. From founder slack/discord/reddit communities, to coaches, and therapists.

Define what wellness is for you

For some people, wellness involves goal setting and creating structure and habits for themselves - others just need to give themselves permission not to have a structure at all. With these types of lists of reminders it's helpful to also remind ourselves that wellness shouldn't be stressful - sometimes what's best is to just veg out and rest completely (even just for an afternoon). Check in with what you need and set some boundaries to give yourself that gift this holiday season.