So wondering how you guys deal with the huge irrational emotional swings involved with startups. I try to:
Even with the above though it is still a huge emotional rollercoaster. The following two quotes highlight exactly what I am talking about:
First and foremost, a start-up puts you on an emotional roller coaster unlike anything you have ever experienced. You flop rapidly from day-to-day - one where you are euphoracally convinced you are going to own the world, to a day in which doom seems only weeks away and you feel completely ruined, and back again. Over and over and over. And I'm talking about what happens to stable entrepreneurs. - Marc Andreessen
There's no such thing as easy entrepreneurship. It's going to be painful, it's going to be emotionally unstable, you're going to feel insecure. If you're not already bipolar, you will feel like you are. - James Hong (Hot or Not)
Dealing with stress is something that took me a while to learn and I still haven't got it quite right yet.
I basically use a GTD (Getting Things Done) system, the normal reason for the stress is that it has got out of hand, so I spend an hour or to using this system to "meditate" on the issues. The result is you feel a bit more in control at the end of it and you have sorted all the "fluff" out.
Ongoing I walk an hour or so a day and find I'm best if I "switch off" after 7pm most days, the occasional one where you are on a roll or just have to is fine but they should be the exception ...
As for the general emotional belief VS self doubt battle I used to have a huge issue with. Every action had a million possible outcomes and most of them seemed bad ... over time I have realised that most of them aren't ever as bad as your mind made them out to be, eventually I realised that I would be around for more than this week, that there are always solutions, so I could start to relax and not beat myself up over them so much ... basically taking a longer term view and not getting caught in the daily mess.
I am experincing the same feelings now. It is especially stressful when you are working on a self-funded project sacrificing your free time.
For me, the best way to deal with it is taking some short breaks. Not thinking about the startup for a day or two helps to cool down from "own the world" and "there is no hope" spikes.
Also, splitting the project to the tiny easily achievable tasks/milestones helps greatly.
Each time I solve a piece of the puzzle (configuring payment gateway or even choosing the right font size for headers) is like a small victory. It certainly helps to keep going.
Don't forget about physical exercises. Pushing/pulling a couple of hundred pounds of iron cleans brain from all the sad thoughts. All your problems look insignificant when you doing the last rep of pushing heavy a piece of metal over your head.
What a fantastic question! Once you get into startups (or any other form of young businesses), you get hooked, but like any "addiction", it comes with some wild swings in the state of the mind and body.
Here are some things I have picked up a long the way in my decade and a half journey through startup land:
Lastly, I mentors (you are never too old for one... or a several) and friends I can call and vent a bit. Sometimes they tell me I am full of it and sometimes I am right. Having that outlet NOT connected to your family is great.
Its a good practice to take a break and exercise your body. It really gets you out of the stress. Also, meditating about problems/issues you come across would yield a workaround if not a complete solution. If you don't prefer workarounds, let the issue go as it is and face its consequences. Its a good experience that teaches whether to choose workarounds or not.
Cheers for Apollo for his wonderful findings on this question. One needs to conquer and get past a lot of stress to come out with such experiences and conclusions.
Startup never comes without a stress. But the best part is it forces you to learn how to make your own world better.
I don't have a full answer yet, but when I am particularly discomforted or preoccupied I avoid making decisions or doing things that cannot be reversed. In other words, I prevent myself from doing something stupid/wrong/regrettable.
Taking a walk usually helps relieving some of the stress.