Self Care September 21, 2020

How do you cope?

Stefan M @TalkToStefan

What do you do when you're stuck/frustrated/thinking through things in your head?

A few examples may include:
When you're struggling to decide which opportunity to pursue/What to focus on doing next/Should I switch market?

I know it's difficult when working alone... there aren't always lots of people to talk to. Of course, coming here is one method. Making use of coaches/mentors is another.

What do you do?

(Asking out of interest/research rather than personally struggling)

  1. 8

    Semi-ignore this post

    Take everything you read online with a pinch of salt - even this reply. Everyone is producing content through their own lens. Their advice may not be applicable to you, it might even be detrimental to you. Behind every seemingly smart piece of advice is a million variables that went into it, and many of those variables will simply not apply to you.

    Ignore competitors

    Don't busy yourself with what your competitors are up to. Don't look at their features, their product design, their pricing. Just pretend only you exist, and aim to be the best.

    Optimize for long term

    Follow your passion. Once upon a time I tried to make a spreadsheet that tried to objectively score my ideas into "good business ideas" and "bad business ideas". It begain with some basic attributes e.g. "possible market size", "how much can I charge" but in the end I started to see so many possible attributes that the sheet could have grown to 50 or 100 different columns. That's dumb. In a world of endless ways to evaluate, just pick the one thing that really matters - how passionate are you? The IH life is a marathon, not a sprint - you need to optimise for all the long-term attributes and I think personal passion is the attribute that has one of the longest time horizons.

    Manage failure

    Follow up any kind of failure with some quick wins within your control. Too many failures in a row can grind you down. Keep some small things in the backlog that you know are discrete little pieces of win, that you can use like medicine.

    Talk to other founders (with your mouth, not your hands)

    Talk to other founders offline, in a social situation. Not necessarily to learn anything in particular, but just to remind yourself that there are others going through the same kind of crap as you.

    Be social

    Participate in non-work-related social situations.

    Have a hobby

    Have a hobby that's totally disconnected from your work.

    1. 1

      Thanks for your reply Jon - some great points there.

      You mention talking to other founders... is there anyone else you talk to?

      1. 2

        of course, I have a social circle of friends and we never talk about work when we are together.

        my point was that, if you're going to talk to other founders to share experiences, do it in an offline context. As a solo founder it's too easy to fall into the trap of having all your work-related interactions happen online, and I think you lose a lot of nuance that way.

        1. 1

          Sorry, I meant about work stuff.

          But yeah, completely agree with your point about actually vocalising concerns.

  2. 7

    I have a daily habit of meditation and exercise. Sometimes I struggle with my thoughts, meditation exposes them for what they are: just thoughts. Exercise reinforces that success isn't built overnight, but rather is based on consistency and discipline.

    1. 4

      Yeh I second this, any activity really that you enjoy and allows you to escape from work. Taking time out from a problem and coming back to it with a fresh mind has really helped me in the past. Sleep is also a big one for me, I don't subscribe to the sleep 4 hours a day and hustle mentality, it just isn't productive for me personally.

      1. 1

        Yes! Couldn't agree more! Sometimes I'd even take naps throughout the day when I'm feeling tired. I find that they help a ton!

      2. 1

        Agreed on the sleep front - we each know what works best for us, but generally the 'few hours' approach doesn't work well.

    2. 1

      Thanks Justin, good to hear!

  3. 4

    When I'm stuck or in a rut, I go for a run, and write down stuff. Helps clear the mind into a blank canvas.

    1. 1

      Physical exercise is great for it! Do you ever speak to anyone?

    2. 1

      Runs/jogs are honestly one of the simplest life hacks!

  4. 2

    I'm lucky enough to have a partner that helps me get away from this crap. Sometimes you just have to let work/projects go and then come back to them with a fresh mindset. In other cases you should by all means keep pushing but I'd suggest pairing that with constant video chats about your work. Talk to peers in your industry and schedule calls with them to hear what they're working on and if you can do anything to help each other out. Most people will love to chat with you and chat about what you're building!

    1. 1

      Thanks for sharing Arrigo - great advice!

  5. 2

    My tips:

    1. Go for a bike ride - steady long cardio outside is great.
    2. Write everything on my mind on a piece of paper and think.

    Both simple, both work for me.

  6. 2

    Going to the gym always lifts my mood and gives me a fresh perspective.

  7. 2

    Sometimes I overwork myself and can't focus. In that case I take a break: go for a walk, watch something interesting, listen to a podcast, play some games, talk to a friend, etc. Often, this just results in me calling it quits for the day.

    Sometimes I'm simply not feeling optimistic or can't find a path forward. In that case I like to dive into a doc and do as much writing and analysis as possible. I do my best thinking through writing. Recently, however, I've been trying to transition to solving this problem via reading and listening to as many articles and podcast episodes as possible. They're just hugely inspirational and insightful.

    1. 1

      Thanks Courtland... good to know. You mention talking to a friend, are there any other people that you use to talk it through?

  8. 2

    As others have said - in following order

    1. Sleep
    2. Exercise
    3. Meditation

    Just get away from the screen.

    Regarding exercise, any kind of exercise is fine. Go for a walk outside. Darwin and Einstein both use to go on walks. Walking in nature can boost memory and makes you more productive.

    1. 2

      Good points Ash - agree that any form of exercise is helpful!

  9. 2

    I do one of two things: ask my mentor what he thinks, sort of rubber duck the problem with him; or, more often, before bothering him, I just...do something else. Stepping away, taking time to just put the problem on the back burner and let your unconscious mind work the problem, even just taking a walk or playing a simple game or something, is highly underrated. “Hustle culture” doesn’t help — it’s just a recipe for burnout. My advice to anyone reading this is: don’t be afraid to step away from the problem. Sleep on it. Do what relaxes you. It won’t always solve the problem, but it will make it more approachable when you come back. Banging your head against the wall on a seemingly intractable problem is usually not very productive.

    1. 1

      Great points... do you just have open access to your mentor to sound things out?

  10. 2

    Biggest thing in the moment is to change my state.

    If I'm frustrated, confused, unclear - it's usually associated with focusing on the wrong things (like the obstacles), using language that isn't helpful ("I can't figure this out!), and being in a physical posture that's...unresourceful.

    So - I stand up. I take a walk. I stretch out. I take deep breaths. Change my physiology to be more commanding and in charge and capable.

    I change my focus - what options am I not seeing? Who has solved this problem before? Who can I go to who has resources that might be helpful? When is another time that I figured something out like this?

    And I change my language - I can figure this out. What would this look like if it were easy, or fun? What am I really good at that can help the situation?

    Those three things - physiology, focus, and language - known as the "triad" has a huge affect on our ability to do anything. It's near impossible to create or solve problems when we're in an unresourceful state or mindset.

    But the good news is that we are entirely capable of changing that triad to be better for what we need in any moment.

    1. 1

      Great points about bringing change, Daren. Thanks!

      1. 2

        Hope it helps :)

        How are you feeling now after getting all of these awesome responses?

        1. 1

          Thanks! I'm OK - wasn't feeling like too much of a problem. I'm just trying to get a picture of what different people do.

          Great to be part of this community though!

  11. 2
    1. take a break
    2. start thinking it through, if it's more than 3 points
    3. write it down, start by just brain dumping scribelling everything out coherent or not ...
    4. take a break
    5. go and try to read what you wrote and start contexting / organising it a little bit.
    6. Usually at this point it starts getting choerent... if not what organisation module does it fit? (comparisions like pro/con list? mindmap/sun diagram? dependencies?...)
    7. What's the next action item to bring this to conclusion? do you need to do some research? do you need to discouss it with someone? (sometime just explaining it to someone else is it.. while it's actually for your own clarity) do you need to accept multiple choices are about the same and you should just go with one? are you just so emotional about it that you have to take a longer break and go do something else for a while?..
    1. 1

      That's a great routine you've developed... Thanks for sharing!

  12. 2

    I play chess online, it really helps.

    1. 1

      Nice, I can imagine that takes your mind off things.

      1. 2

        exactly, just focused on something else. Play a few games, go back to solving work things. You can play https://lichess.org/

  13. 2

    Tbh, I'm a bit too intense, but I've occasionally noticed health implications. Nowadays, I've tended to prioritise sleeping more. I also make sure to go rock climbing at least twice a week - because it's a few hours away from work and any computer screens. Finally, I make sure I spend more time playing with my kids - because they're more important than work.

    1. 1

      Good to hear Rich, thanks. As you say, health concerns are worrying... putting it in perspective is useful. Do you ever talk things out with anyone?

      1. 2

        My wife, close friends, etc.

        Will eventually look into getting a therapist. I think one could be helpful to have in general. Yeah, I don't think topics like this can ever be discussed enough.

  14. 1

    I wrote an Article about this

    1. 1

      Great post Victor, thanks for sharing!

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