Working for yourself and making a living that way is the American Dream. It sounds good in theory: no boss, more profits, and making something bigger than yourself.
But are most entrepreneurs, who are overworked, strapped for cash, and constantly struggling to survive, happy?
Schuyler Brown, the creator of [email protected] Meetup, writes:
“Success. We all want it. We work hard for it. But in the end, despite all those late nights, we still find ourselves coming up short. I still live in my same dumpy apartment. I still can’t take my girlfriend on the vacation she really wants. So what the hell am I doing wrong? “
The answer lies in how each person views success. Anthony Tjan, CEO, Managing Partner and Founder of the venture capital firm Cue Ball, discovered four keys to happiness while studying the well-being of entrepreneurs.
1. People who risk things earlier are happier. There is a saying, youth is wasted on the young. Tjan agrees. “Risks early in one’s career tend to have much more upside potential than downside risk,” he says. “If one tries something of greater risk and it does not work out, there’s time to go back to a safer and more conservative path.”
2. People who live their lives through experiences are happiest. According to The New York Times, doers, not talkers, come out on top. Meaningful experiences, such as travelling and spending time with friends, create nostalgic happiness that lingers.
3. Keep close relationships. Entrepreneurs have no free-time, but they need to make time for friends if they want to be happy. Tjan says, “In our professional careers, we think about relationships for their business ‘networking value.’ But relationships give us something much more than connections to facilitate business they can actually be the biggest drivers of a positive and healthy lifestyle. The leading health experts of our day from Dean Ornish, to Mehmet and Lisa Oz, and Nicholas Christakis emphasise this need.”
4. Never stop learning. “Intellectual curiosity and a desire to stay relevant are hallmarks of happier people,” says Tjan.
Anil Dash, co-founder of Activate, has also interviewed a lot of entrepreneurs. The first question he asks them is, “What do you consider ‘success?'” followed by, ‘What do you want that success to look like?”
He writes, “If you make a great app that gets tons of users, but it’s covered in ugly ads instead of the cleanly designed experience you initially created, will you be happy? If you make a huge amount of money but it’s because you’re selling tons of personal data on your users or clogging up the web with absolutely crappy content, will that be a fair trade to you? Is the continuum of choices in these matters something you’re willing to compromise on in exchange for making sure your kid goes to college?”
Dash concludes, “Success comes from you knowing who you are and what your values are, and from being able to recognise success because you’d already defined it for yourself in the first place. Diving into an endeavour without those fundamentals is a pretty sure recipe for making sure you never accomplish the thing that it turns out you wanted.”
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