Take Care of Yourself

I’ve previously written about the importance of taking care of your team and taking care of others. It’s also important and acceptable to take care of yourself. I’ve already written about how startups tend to extract a pound of flesh and pint of blood. After running a marathon, you have to rest and recover. Take a nice vacation with your family. Treat yourself to something you enjoy.

After my last startup was acquired at the end of 2012, I finally allowed myself to buy a nice Nikon camera system. I gave myself permission to invest time to learn to be a good photographer. Four years later, I now shoot about 20,000 to 25,000 photos a year. Some photos are about creating fine art. Other photos are about capturing memories. Still other photos are about giving to others by making quality pictures of their special moments. Taking photos provides me with a way to wind down and step away from the frenetic pace I usually keep.

But in allowing yourself to explore your passions, it is important to do so within healthy boundaries. It’s fine to get a nice car, travel to see the world, or upgrade your house. But acquiring a fleet of super cars or buying a ten-bedroom mansion can lead to a life with unhealthy or non-existent boundaries. It can also provide fertile ground for your kids to grow spoiled, as effectively you are spoiling yourself. Instead, consider the examples of Mark Zuckerberg who generally drives a $30K Volkswagen GTI and Warren Buffett who lives in a nice, but still modest $650K house in Omaha, Nebraska. Both can clearly afford to indulge in multiple exotic cars and homes that induce envy even in the wealthiest celebrities, but they choose not to.

In order to keep me somewhat rooted, my wife encouraged me to blend my passion for photography with a way to give back. I decided to volunteer to teach photography to underprivileged kids and to raise money for our kid’s school. I also volunteer as an event photographer for several non-profits and schools.

So feel free to decompress. Enjoy life. Travel. Pursue a hobby. But as you do so, think about ways to build community or invest in quality time with your family as you pursue your interests. One particularly good way to stay connected and grounded is to volunteer in your kids’ schools. It’ll help you get a feel for a big part of your kids’ daily lives while also deepening your connection with them. In doing so, you will probably find that the relationships you foster and the community you build will provide more satisfaction than any prized possession or individual (isolated?) pursuit.


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