By Adriana Gascoigne, Founder and CEO of Girls in Tech, the largest worldwide organization dedicated to empowering and supporting women in STEM. (www.GirlsinTech.org)
Courtesy of Nikita Savostikov / Shutterstock
As I mentioned above, I’m good at making time for myself. And when I say “make time” I mean it — you must make it, guard it, treasure it. And, yeah, setting boundaries can be a bitch. Here’s how I do it: I block time in my calendar for me. I make commitments that are difficult to untangle from, by involving other people — paying for a yoga class ahead of time, making that massage appointment that I’ll be charged for if I don’t show up.
I also physically strive to get away, at least once a month. It doesn’t have to be a sexy jaunt to Europe; a drive to the sea or to wine country will suffice. Physically removing myself from the bounds of the city clears my mind and allows me to perform a mental reboot — something that is just not possible when I’m home.
I’m also a big fan of rising early. I don’t rise early and jump right in front of my laptop; rather, I rise early and just be. I’ll meditate if possible, even just for ten minutes. I’ll also clean my house, sip on coffee, and take my time embracing the day ahead. By the time I roll into the office at 9 a.m. sharp, I’m ready to rock. I’m prepared, rested, and eager to take on the day, whatever it might bring.
I really don’t know what most days can bring. So I try to not worry about it so much. It’s one day at a time. One week at a time. And, through it all, I’m trying (still trying) to take care of me along the way. I can’t say it’s a habit yet, but I do know one thing. I’ll shove you like a four-hundred-pound linebacker if you try to get between me and my massage. Just sayin’.
What did we learn?
Don’t underestimate the stress.
I mean it — don’t be the fool who thinks you’re going to be the one entrepreneur who manages to escape its grasp. It will get to you, it’s just a matter of when (according to Falzone, it’ll be about three or four years in). Know that it’s coming. Mentally prepare for it. Know what to watch out for: relationships falling away, not eating, not sleeping, racing heart. Anxiety is about the simple decisions.
Make setting boundaries a habit.
Do it even when you feel like you have your shit together. Make it a habit to go out for lunch instead of eating at your keyboard; indulge in the joy of zoning out, say, with a book, a mindless TV show, or a day’s getaway. You can even fold stress relief into your workday by doing things like taking meetings over a walk. It’s no substitute for alone time, but it sure beats rotting away for fourteen-hour days in an office.
You’re not alone.
There’s this funny underworld “fight club” thing that happens with entrepreneurs. We’re all going through the same puddle of mud, but no one wants to talk about it. Ah, the battle of being the eternal optimists…talking about it would make it too real, too much of a downer, right? Well, maybe that needs to change. Confide in another entrepreneur friend if you’re going through a tough time. Have a talk with your cofounders, and tell them what you’re dealing with. Do it over coffee, over lunch, or over the phone. If it’s someone you trust that you can be vulnerable with, go on and have a cry. It’ll probably feel good.