When you love what you’re doing, it’s easy to reject anyone who suggests you need to take a break. Indeed their concern will probably come across as nagging. Why would you stop, when it’s your own dream you’re building and every milestone you reach gives you a hit? The very process is energising, even if it drags you through the troughs to reach the peaks.
The curse of ambition is that you become acutely aware that every moment you’re not moving towards your mission is a moment longer you’ll be kept from it. Patience is a tricky thing when the only way to bear not having reached your goal yet is to know you’re doing all you can to get there. It’s simple logic. The more time you spend moving towards a destination, the sooner you’ll arrive. Conversely, the more you sit still, the longer it’ll take. And so motion becomes addictive.
Like any great addiction, the hit — the short-term benefits that lure you in — is outweighed by the slow development of far more significant side-effects. The fundamental flaw is, of course, assuming that all movement is good movement, but run a mile on a broken foot and you’ll be out of the game much longer than you would have been, had you paused to assess the situation. It’s not about sitting still, per se, but redirecting energy to a more beneficial action (ie getting yourself to the hospital rather than continuing to the finish line).
It’s important to pause, reassess and adjust, both routinely and when a crisis situation brings an issue to the fore.
In a (well-functioning) traditional work environment, moments of pause are imposed by structure — regular hours, lunch breaks, holidays, performance reviews, training days, weekends. It would be naive to believe that this is always how it works in practice, or that having pauses necessarily equates to prioritising reflection, but the framework is in place. When you start working for yourself or even with a startup you lose that; it’s up to you to define your schedules, your breaks and your workload.
This is where balance becomes so important, and it’s why we’re building it into our business. Not as a prescriptive model but as an opportunity. If you put yourself in the right environment you’ll be able to discover your own balance, on your own terms, so you can follow your ambition in a sustainable way. Here are five anecdotal lessons we’ve learned while finding our balance.
1. We need to reboot
Curiosity isn’t something we can indulge half-heartedly. We surround ourselves with a community of interesting people and prioritise getting to know each and every one of them individually, which means we spend a lot of time listening intently and seeking out ways to contribute. To make sure we can continue to give our full attention, we have to make time to completely switch off and focus on our own needs.
2. We find energy in exercise
Skipping a workout for a deadline might seem like a good idea at 6am, but it can really make us cranky. If one of us were to do it for two weeks straight, we’d notice a difference in their mood, their ability to make decisions, and the way they interact with us and our community. For some of us it’s yoga, for others it’s the gym; either way, when we find a habit that energises us in mind and body, we make time for it. And know the team will call us out on it if we leave it too long.
3. We stumble upon creativity
It’s easy to become so obsessed with a problem that we box our minds in and think of nothing else until we solve it. But if we tear ourselves away and walk into a different environment to focus on something else, the dots start to join themselves together without us even trying. The solution unveils itself in the most unexpected moments, halfway up a climbing wall, for example. Change is golden.
4. We thrive on diversity
As much as we love being around like-minded people, it does wonders to be reminded that there’s a whole world out there. Whether working from home or alongside a team for ten hours a day, we’ve all felt that need to get out of the bubble and refresh our perspective with a different group of people. A like-minded community is great for driving vertical growth, diversity, on the other hand, broadens horizons. We want to make room for both.
5. We love a good story
Inquisitive minds (our favourite kind) tend to be intrigued by variety, and part of the reason we find such people so inspiring is that they live their lives with vigour and always have something different to talk about. We admire the way these curious souls throw themselves into their passion without neglecting their other interests. This is how we aspire to be, because the more diverse our experience as a team, the more creatively we can engage our community. We’re more than what we do.
Call it work-life balance or a blended / healthy lifestyle, the label is irrelevant. For us, the importance of balance is creating an environment where we’re all free, if not encouraged, to bring our whole selves to work.