Lessons I Learned from Working 200 Days in a Row It may sound exhausting to work seven days a week, for seven months straight, but that's what I did.
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It may sound exhausting to work seven days a week, but entrepreneurship allows us the opportunity to pursue our dreams, and sometimes those long hours are what it takes. We can build the business and life that we love, and if we love what we're doing then the joy of the work itself transcends any monetary rewards. Entrepreneurs that pursue purpose in their profession can take pride in making the lives of their customers better. They serve others to the highest standard and enrich their employees, investors, and themselves as a result.
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Workweeks and working weekends
The experience of entrepreneurship is energizing when your personal and professional interests align. Doing what you love for a career is invigorating and freeing. My career has become an extension of my interests in innovation and entrepreneurship, resultant from my devotion to education and my dedication to pursuing dreams.
When I got started, I spent seven months engaged with extraordinary mentors and innovators. My Mondays through Fridays were invested in building connections with students, faculty, and successful entrepreneurs as I also taught, mentored and supported an academic community that valued the passion, persistence, and perseverance to become an entrepreneur.
Innovation and entrepreneurship were taught in classes across campus and there was an energy and excitement out toward starting new ventures. The university I was at received rankings as having one of the entrepreneurship programs in the world, and the many shared stories of recent alumni taking companies public made it even easier to extol the amazing opportunities that entrepreneurship opens in our lives.
While articles of million-dollar raises and IPOs grab the headlines, I have also learned to support the small business owners that drive economic development in their communities. The reason for this dedication to the underdog story is that my small business solely supported my family for years before new opportunities emerged in academia and my current career in national security innovation.
In addition to teaching entrepreneurship during the week, every weekend was spent practicing what I preached, as I operated my adventure park business, focused on Ziplining, and brought joy to many visitors every season for years. Ziplining was an activity that had grabbed my attention while living in Hawaii over a decade before and had become a business that brought me as much joy as it brought to my customers. It was a pleasure to get paid to play for a living, and an honor to share the thrill of zipping above the treetops with the hundreds of guests that visited each season, but this dedication to my work meant that I never had a day off—which was fine with me, as I was building a life I cared about.
Yet, I still needed to embrace the upsides of downtown. In learning to do that, some things stuck out more than others as guideposts toward having not just meaningful work in my life, but meaningful interactions and an impactful existence.
Finding time to "relax" is rare for an entrepreneur, but we can find purpose in every engagement and create more meaningful interactions. Reading to my children before bed, for instance, becomes a special time when I frame it as such. I enjoy this because I recognize that these fleeting moments must be cherished. This same philosophy translates to team meetings, mentor sessions with students, and chats with customers. Making every interaction energizing and inspiring to others is what feeds my passion. We aren't here forever, and it's helpful to recognize that, even in the workplace. When we do, we bring so much more richness to our lives.
Being present and proactive
Giving your full focus to the most important people in your life is one of the best ways to feel fulfilled. Forgetting about the work that awaits and appreciating the magical moments with family and friends allows me to maximize the benefits of being successful, and helps me to achieve better health and happiness, and even more success, in turn.
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Living in the moment
It is easy to get distracted from what is most important when we are always connected to our devices, which ultimately means that we are always multi-tasking. My mother-in-law has wisely stated that she views every family function as a page in a scrapbook, and has suggested that no one wants to see photos of themselves looking at a phone, rather than smiling and engaging with family. This is a great outlook to have, and I have learned to enjoy these small moments with family, not wanting to look back with regret for not being present with the people that I cared about, and that cared about me in return. Email, text, and newsfeeds should always be secondary to time with family and loved ones.
Prioritizing time for oneself
Working every day can be necessary, but it is never necessary to spend an entire day reacting to the requests of others. Instead, it's important to spend daily time reflecting on one's priorities and accomplishing tasks that feel personally productive, which inevitably powers one to accomplish even more and allows for better rest when the day is done. Sure, it's great to respond to the immediate needs of your business, but prioritizing one's own daily goals over the goals of an agitated-sounding iPhone notification leads to a much better quality of life.
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