Sherry Walling – Playing the Long Game: Making Entrepreneurship a Sustainable Life (Microconf 2014)

Speaker: Sherry Walling (@zenfounder)

Sherry Walling is a psychologist and gives some good advice on taking good care of yourself in the ups and down of being a self funded entrepreneur (if you are not in a good shape, managing your business effectively become much harder). She also helps the audience to let some stress go with some breathing exercises.

A founder’s life

  • You need to deal with: anxiety and isolation
  • You are taking a lot of risks and that makes you vulnerable
  • High risk of failure and shame that takes you up at night
  • Successes are fantastic but the daily reality can be very hard
  • When there’s something that is not working with us has to do with chaos and rigidity
    • Chaos: You come with incomplete thoughts and feel impulsive and disorganized and that it’s not good enough.
    • Rigidity: is the lack of flexibility and trying to make things work over and over again without understanding the big picture. Fear dictates decisions and you have the tendency to think in black and white

How to minimize the collateral damage?

Track your personal metrics

  • You need to track your personal metrics (not only your business metrics) and work on them.
  • Are you performing the way you want or it’s a bit of a mess?
  • Ask yourself: what do I love about my life today? What I don’t like about it?
  • Record a daily checkin (or keep a journal). Write one thing that you are grateful for each day
  • Practice telling your story. Learn to observe your feelings: this can give us information on what decisions to make

Take time out

Time out is to step outside the business and do something else. Sleep, exercise and nutrition. Play is important as well. You need to take time to recharge and take a break from devices.

  • Travel is helping a lot to change your perspective and enjoy novelty.
  • Spend one day serving and help people in need.
  • Sleep is the most important activity and it’s consolidating the information while you sleep. If you are not sleeping well you are not working at your best level.
  • Breathing is an important activity to help relax and stop the anxiety circle.

Take time in

You also need to take time in, in a deeper more intentional way: this is especially for people that do things in a bit chaotic way. Keep time without distraction where you have your very focused time.

  • Mastermind groups provide feedback and ideas on what you are doing and ask you hard questions.
    You need to have a tight feedback loop
  • Retreat is a very specific time to thinking about things on your work. Solitary and screen free as possible. A retreat is just some time alone to focus on specific questions. This time is for big picture thinking and understanding your inner feelings and goals

When do you need help?

When any of these things are happening to you, you probably need professional help.

  • Significant sleep disruption
  • Crossing the line
  • Prolonged inability to focus or shift thoughts
  • I am just not myself
  • Apathy or sadness for several weeks
  • Thoughts of self harm or disregard for personal safety

Read notes of all the other talks in the Microconf 2014 Hub page.