By Johnny Crowder
10 min read
As a suicide/abuse survivor growing up with multiple mental health conditions, I always figured that I had managed to conquer most of my most difficult days before the age of 25… and then I started a business.
What’s the most challenging thing to maintain as an entrepreneur? A schedule? Sure. Finances? Undoubtedly. But if you’re ready to get vulnerable, sanity snags the top slot here.
I wanted to share a few key practices that have helped me protect my head and my heart during the jarring emotional roller coaster that we call entrepreneurship. Take a peek…
- Don’t take “no” personally
I get it. Your business is your baby… But it’s not you.
If you’re anything like me, it can be difficult to draw a dividing line between your career and yourself. We’ll touch more on that a little later, but hear this: When someone says “no” to your product, your service, or your proposal, they’re not saying “no” to you.
I know it feels like they are. In fact, I just received a rejection letter for a $50,000 grant application about an hour before I started writing this. And after wasting months slaving over every minor detail, praying for it every night, and even writing it on a dream board (hey, you gotta try new things), spotting “We regret to inform you” in the first few lines of an email body is enough to cripple me into the fetal position with a carton of Ben & Jerry’s if I’m not extremely intentional about remembering this principle of capitalism.
I am not my idea, my business, or my career. I am me. And the person who read through my grant application has never met me. They have no idea who I am, what I’ve been through, what I’ve sacrificed… all they know is that my proposal didn’t fit the criteria they were looking for.
When people turn down your offer, they’re not rejecting you. In fact, they’re not thinking about you at all–they’re thinking about themselves.
Consider this: When you buy Frosted Flakes, it’s not out of spite for the lady who designed the Froot Loops box. You just felt like eating Frosted Flakes. It wasn’t personal, and your recent rejection likely wasn’t personal, either.
- Spend time around other human beings
My computer is a wonderful friend. That is, until it comes time to actually feed the part of the human psyche that requires interpersonal interaction to thrive. Then, it’s a cold, lifeless shell of a companion (sorry, Apple). The fact is that we need other people. Suffice it to say that community and relationship aren’t exactly afterthoughts on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Without a cofounder or an office, I wind up spending a lot of time in my own home furiously tapping away at my laptop. But as wonderful as the internet can be, the very tool that was designed to connect the world has a way of making us feel rather disconnected over time. Trust me, the irony is not lost on me here.
If you don’t have a business partner, that’s okay. If you don’t have the money for a hip coworking space, that’s okay, too. Just pick a day or three to work somewhere else, even for just a couple of hours – a coffee shop, a park, a hotel lobby. Changing our scenery and having a physical level of proximity to other living, breathing creatures–even if we’re not communicating with them directly–can go a long way towards helping us feel energized, included, and sane.
- Schedule personal time like it’s an obligation
You never miss a video meeting with a potential client, yet you haven’t called your mother back in 2 months.
Why? Because it’s not on your calendar.
So add it. Feel free to color-code (I do this all the time) as a means of separating personal blocks of time from business-related ones. But in reality, your life outside of your career is arguably more important than your career itself.
Strive to craft a balanced calendar. It might look something like this:
9:00 – Daniel / Investor pitch
10:30 – Call Eric back about his birthday party
1:00 – Take a 15-min walk
3:15 – Jessica / Insurance renewal
4:00 – Ryan / Cybersecurity consultation
7:30 – Dinner with Mariah & Travis
- Pursue something that isn’t related to your career
Wanna know why your career feels like your whole life right now? Because it is. And in all seriousness, if you care about your mental health, it shouldn’t be.
For a lot of us entrepreneurs, our hobbies gradually and stealthily became our careers without our knowledge or consent. This slow-motion switcheroo leaves many of us without interests outside of work, which can lead to obsessive workaholism, hair-graying stress, and an unhealthy habit of finding 100% of our identity in our craft.
A few years back, after a lifetime of not giving a crap about what shoes I strapped onto my feet, I started developing a surprising interest in sneakers. The materials they use, the design cues, the inspiration behind certain colorways, and so on… Shortly thereafter, I started playing basketball and riding a bike. Lately, I’ve been learning a ton about cars. And while it may seem like these interests simply popped up out of nowhere, it’s clear to me now (in hindsight) that they surfaced out of sheer necessity.
The brain needs multiple nuggets to chew on. The heart needs a variety of causes to care about. The human identity needs a rich, diverse ecosystem to feel complete, meaning that the all-your-eggs-in-one-basket approach is destined to hollow out an otherwise vibrant spirit.
Don’t rob yourself of key components of your personality by classifying them as unproductive.
At the end of the day, there’s only one better investment than your business itself: YOU.
Founder & CEO
Daily Mental Health Support
Johnny Crowder is a 27-year-old suicide/abuse survivor, touring musician, mental health advocate, and the Founder & CEO of Cope Notes. Whether speaking at events or on the road with his metal band, Prison, Johnny’s firsthand experience with multiple mental health diagnoses (ranging from bipolar disorder and OCD to schizophrenia) uniquely equips him to provide creative insight into the pains of hardship with levity and wit. Readers can connect with Johnny at:
Podcast:copenotes.com/podcast (or wherever you find podcasts)
FB:facebook.com/johnnyxcrowder & facebook.com/copenotes
IG:instagram.com/johnnycrowderlovesyou & instagram.com/copenotes
LinkedIn:linkedin.com/in/johnnycrowder & linkedin.com/company/copenotes