When I was building my first business I was of the opinion that one must forgo all kinds of pleasure and work 24/7. I did it for a year. I slept 4-5 hrs a day, didn’t go out much, and took pleasure in nothing other than work. Work wasn’t pleasurable per se. It was a constant grind, but it was necessary; so I did my duty.
We often get more engrossed in the balance-sheet of a business than that of our own life. We convince ourselves that we’ll live for ourselves later, after we have accomplished what we have set out to do.
My business didn’t turn out well, and I closed shop. Then I moved on to something else. Something that had more work. Had my business been successful, more work would have come anyway. My schedule didn’t change much. I was constantly working towards a better future. I ignored my present, and was living in the future.
Back then it sounded logical. But now it retrospect, it sounds foolish. I was like a dog chasing cars. I didn’t have a viable plan, other than to work myself to death. I was inspired by the “narratives” of rockstar entrepreneurs that I grew up reading.
Working 24/7, living like a pauper sounds good in a story with a happy ending, but it is a bad strategy in real life. Stories are written in retrospect. The businesses that don’t survive the struggle are left out of them. Stories distort our thinking.
Part of living a good life is a balance of saving and savouring. You have to wake up and work hard to save the world. Building a business is part of it. But you also have to find time to savour your life as well. As Seneca said, “Take some of your own time for yourself too.”
It is important to sleep, take rest, go out, and be with friends and family. 25 years from now, when you look back, you shouldn’t see lack of sleep, all work, and no play. You should see a life well lived. Work accordingly. Find some time for yourself.
Don’t just live in the future. Enjoy the present as well.