Hobbies are more than hobbies

There's a perception that founders work a lot. From my own personal experience, I'd say that's true. However, that perception turns into pressure and I think a lot of current and up-and-coming founders adopt this idea that hobbies are a waste of time and that they should feel ashamed for doing them. 

I'm referring to hobbies here as anything you even marginally enjoy outside of work. That includes exercise, video games, sports, arts & crafts, etc. These things that fill up our nights and weekends.

When founders start to shun them in favor of more work, their mental and physical well-being often suffers. I see them become more irritated, anxious, and short with their employees, loved ones, and themselves. I see them put on unhealthy weight, look a bit more disheveled, and have trouble sleeping. 

But I think there's another cost that's not being considered: the learnings that we gain from our hobbies.

Hobbies are more than hobbies.

Let me share my own experience to highlight my point. My dad has always been physically fit. In my early teenage years, he allowed me to join the gym with him. It became a habit for me. Sometime in my 20s, I had a friend competing in some unrelated sports competitions, and I decided to put my years of exercise experience to the test in a bodybuilding competition. I hired coaches and got stage-ready over 9 months and wound up taking second place! I was determined to get first place, though, so I spent the next seven years in the gym 4-5 days a week, monitoring my diet daily, and eventually, I took 1st place in a local natural bodybuilding competition.

So, what did I learn from this? Beyond my health and wellness, I learned persistence. I learned that pennies [of effort] add up to dollars. I learned the importance of coaches and preparation. I learned how to be a better founder.

I've since "retired" from bodybuilding competitions, but I still do two days of weight lifting to try and maintain everything I've built. I've also picked up Jiu Jitsu as my new hobby of choice. I have no guilt about spending a few hours a week doing it because I've learned that I'll learn something much deeper than what I initially signed up for. I've learned that these things I learn are usually much more valuable than a few extra hours of unfocused work.

I encourage all founders to enjoy their hobbies to the fullest. Beyond their surface-level benefits, they'll improve you in ways you haven't imagined.