For those of you aspiring entrepreneurs out there, this is a blog post about loneliness and health. It is an often-stated cliche that entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey, but that is because it’s true. Forget about ‘it’s lonely at the top’, which is a different statement and will be discussed on a different blog post. Hint: arrogant people say that.
However, the sad truth is that growing a business does require sacrifices. In my case, that was leaving a friend group I had built over the years and moving into the city. I know, you’re probably thinking moving to the city isn’t a sacrifice, big deal huh? Well let me tell you this: it is a huge deal for a passionate surfer, and not only that, but most of us could agree that nature is good for your mind, body and soul.
There are many reasons why you might get stressed as a business owner; technology not working as it should, client treating you badly, making silly mistakes, heated arguments, just to name a few.
According to Happify research, just writing for a short while each day about your experiences can increase your happiness, boost optimism and ultimately improve your overall mental and physical wellbeing. For this, I try to write in a journal every few days, and I have also used Jordan Peterson’s self-authoring. Another great tool is a gratitude journal, where each day you write 3 things you’re grateful for. I use the 5-minute journal by Intelligent Change for this.
Furthermore, positive thinking improves your ability to analyse your cognition. According to Psychology Today, regular meditation relieves stress, controls anxiety and the reduces the risk of developing heart disease. For meditation I am subscribed to the Waking Up app by Sam Harris, which has daily guided meditations and is often updated with new content.
In response to this Quora question, Joel Petit, Ghostwriter and Social Media Manager eloquently sums up (29 reasons) why we entrepreneurs might feel lonely. Number 3, 5 and 7 (and the rest) stood out to me.
So, it makes sense as an entrepreneur to really focus on your mental and physical wellbeing, so that feelings of loneliness don’t creep up and create anxiety. According to Fast Company, exercise helps to release endorphins and increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which are natural mood lifters and will make you feel better about yourself.
Finally, quality ‘me time’ improves your psychological well-being – this could be enjoying a hobby such as surfing (my personal favourite – see this blog post), playing an instrument, or computer programming – instead of working 24/7, which can often lead to feelings of loneliness.
Keeping the end goal in mind
The end goal as an entrepreneur is never to work yourself to death. Work is a necessary function of entrepreneurship and for survival, but it is never the end goal. Hard work is simply a means to an end. The ultimate objective is to free up more time to do the things you really like. For me, I really like surfing, hanging out with good friends, reading, travelling, and coding. The freedom to do all of this when I want is the ultimate goal. What’s about you?
Feel free to check out the research I discussed above, I’ve added the links below.