To go far, go slow and take breaks

Me and my wife have spent the last 2.5 years building our startup, only taking a couple of weeks off.

In the beginning, we were sure of ourselves and had clear goals. In our minds, taking breaks would only delay our success.

But after 1.5 years, our goals and previsions didn't happen. We realized that we didn't know how to reach success and that we would have to trial and error a lot, maybe for years. 😣

That's when we should have started taking more breaks.

But we just kept going, getting more and more anxious as we saw that the finish line wasn't getting any closer.

As a result, we spent the last 3 months burned out. We could hardly get anything done and took questionnable decisions because of this. It only increased our anxiety. 😩

Last week, after 2.5 years, our energy levels had gotten so low that we had no alternative but to take some time off.

So we dropped everything and rented a place in a beautiful village in Normandy.

For a week, we slept till noon and didn't work on our startup at all. We just went to the beach and to the restaurant, and it was amazing 😍

lucie and Dagobert vacation normandy

Now we're back, full of energy and ideas to make our project successful. But since it might still take a long time, we'll make sure to take another break in the next couple of months.

Lesson is: it's okay to not take breaks when you're running a sprint. But startups are a marathon, so make sure you recharge regularly if you want to go the distance.

  1. 5

    This is a very honest post, Dagobert. Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

    I experienced the same with my previous project. I often slept late and sacrificed my weekends, thinking that I needed to put in more effort. My project didn't get any better, and my health deteriorated. After a good week's rest of doing nothing, I feel so refreshed, and my mind cleared up.

    Taking time off is so important, especially when working on your own business.

    Again, thanks for sharing this.

    Good luck in your project, you have my full support!

    1. 2

      Thanks Yusuf, I feel like we’re on a similar path 🙏

      Good luck with your project too🔥🚀

  2. 3

    Thanks for sharing!

    I think this is something a lot of people struggle with (I know I do). There's this feeling of guilt that you get if you take a break from working on your business.

    But like you said it's super important to step back and recharge so you can carry on the marathon.

    1. 1

      Right on Dave 🙏

      Exactly, I thought that working on my own business I would feel less pressure cause I would stop having a boss but it’s actually much worse 😅

      Need to be way more mindful of my own energy / emotional state to stay healthy through all this.

      Good luck with your project 🚀

  3. 2

    I feel you. Enjoy breaks and keep going.

    1. 1

      Thank you Josef. Good luck with your journey 🙏

  4. 2

    Thanks for the post Dagobert.

    I take 1 week each 6 months. It's in my calendar since the beginning of the year and has been my biggest "hack". You will see things different.

    Hope it helps.

    1. 2

      Amazing Pablo, that's the biggest productivity hack right there 🔥

  5. 2

    Hi Dagobert!

    You've highlighted something extremely important here. Startups are rewarding but the journey is gruelling. There should be no shame or guilt attached to taking a break once in a while because more often than not, you'll come back even more determined.

    Wish you and your wife the very best! There's always light at the end of the tunnel :)

    1. 1

      That’s it Mehak, thanks for your support 🙏

      Good luck with your journey 🚀

  6. 2

    Thanks for sharing your story my friend, and I'm happy to hear that you could finally take a well-deserved break and recharge your energy.
    I also think that we should be consistent but in a sustainable way. I suffered from burnout a few times in the last few years and it really sucks!

    I remember spending 9 days in the mountains of San Carlos de Bariloche here in Argentina a few years ago, and going back fully charged with tons of ideas.

    1. 1

      Right on Mauro 🙏

      I’m fully committed to taking more breaks in the future. Already have one planned for August and one one October.

      I can only imagine how ten days in the argentinian mountains must feel 😍

      Let’s enjoy the journey :)

  7. 2

    I was reminded of the importance of breaks when reading a new book called Effortless by Greg McKeown.

    1. 2

      Just checked it out and it looks awesome. Thanks for sharing Jason 🔥

  8. 2

    You didn't mention it but you also started that as a couple which makes it even harder to my opinion - congrats for the design of your site it's super slick : love it !

    1. 1

      Thank you man 🔥! We were lucky in that we work very well together, having already did a couple of client projects before that.

  9. 2

    Absolutely Dagobert - I ran into a similar situation a few months back. I took on too much consulting work, and tried to build a startup and take care of my family at the same time. After months of work I could not bring myself to do an hour of work when I would open my computer - I did not understand what burnout was at the time, but now I know.

    I ended up shutting down all my client work, and taking a few months off as well. Now I am slowly easing myself back in and setting much more realistic goals, along with taking plenty of rest and recovery stops along the way.

    Keep us up to date with your progress and thank you for the reminder to stop once in a while.

    1. 2

      Thank you Edward!

      I can totally relate. When I was freelancing, at some point I took around 7 projects in parallel, which was a huge mistake, and I couldn't work anymore because of how much pressure it was.

      I ended up giving up midway through, refunding half of the clients and forcing myself to finish the others.

      But it took months for me to get back on my feet.

      Good luck on your journey 🙏

  10. 2

    This is such a great reminder. I think the type of people that are "called" to startups are naturally ambitious, constantly moving. The normal world moves in slow motion. The ability to get out of our own heads is critical otherwise we constantly redline and burn out the engine. Thank you for sharing the journey!

    1. 1

      Right on Aaron! We're gonna make it eventually, right as well enjoy the ride 😃🚀

  11. 2

    It's a marathon, not a sprint and you need to pace yourself to get to the finish line.

    Good for you to take some time 🤙

    1. 1

      Hey Stefan, you’re right, let’s take it a bit slower now 😀

  12. 2

    Yes, that's definitely a problem for me. Not so much for being anxious, but I love to build something and to see the progress I make. And I'm far too curious to see my project being used by someone else and to learn their feedback.

    1. 2

      Yeah, learning to do less of what you love for your own sake is hard to understand at first 😅

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