Is the Entrepreneurial Spirit Good for Your Health?
Before I dive into this, I’m going to preface it with something important. I am not a doctor, nor am I an expert on all things health related. I intend to only share personal experience within this feature, so there’s a possibility you may or may not relate. Please feel free to join the discussion as you see fit. I would love to hear your thoughts on what I’m about to discuss.
It’s also important – as unnecessary as it may seem – to make the distinction that everyone is different. It’s incredibly easy to generalize details about a group or demographic. The important thing to remember is that my experience doesn’t mean every entrepreneur – young or old – lives the same way.
In 2015, GEM published a report that revealed there were over 27 million entrepreneurs in the country, at the time. So, there are a ton of us and we’re all different.
That said, let’s do this.
First, I’d like to establish and prove that I am an entrepreneur.
Are You an Entrepreneur?
To put it bluntly, yes, I wholeheartedly believe I am an entrepreneur.
The definition of that word is as follows:
“Someone who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.”
I do not deal in millions or even hundreds of thousands of dollars like most high-profile CEOs and business founders. Instead, I am nothing more than a modest freelance writer. I make decent money – I think – but I certainly do not make enough to be considered wealthy.
What I feel qualifies me as a true “entrepreneur” is that I have several jobs or projects that I work simultaneously to make up my salary. Just counting off the top of my head, I currently write and work for at least five or six different entities. Some of those companies – like Code 9 Media, for instance – require me to manage several portals or platforms.
I will be the first to admit, I’m not the best when it comes to time management especially since I work from home. But no one can ever claim that I don’t work hard. I do. In fact, I work harder than a great majority of people I know.
I wake up early – though not every single day – and work until late at night, hardly leaving my office for more than a few minutes at a time.
It’s not the money you make that defines you, it’s your work ethic and just how hard you are willing to work. I am willing to work my ass off to make something of myself – which is essentially my brand.
So, ultimately, I am an entrepreneur.
Do You Even Take Risks?
One thing that a lot of entrepreneurs and founders do is take risks, especially financially.
Yes, I definitely take risks. I would argue that mine are more sensible and grounded, but I’m also not working with near as much money as some of the biggest entrepreneurs out there.
When I take on a new job and leave others behind, I am gambling with my livelihood. Hell, a lot of times I don’t even leave any projects behind, I just take on more work.
At any rate, there is always the possibility that a new employer will not keep up their end of the bargain. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve been scammed and robbed, and through no fault of my own. In this industry – as so many others – you are at the whim of the employer. There are precautions you can take, but there is always some risk.
For example, if I start working for a company that pays on a monthly schedule. I might request that my first couple paychecks are paid out sooner. This way I can be sure the company is actually going to pay me, and I am also not wasting an entire month of my time for no return.
There are other ways to protect yourself too, but you get the point.
I am fortunate in that I have a wife who supports my career choices and who works a traditional 9 to 5 job so that I may stay at home like a bum. Without her, I would most certainly fail, which is where I differ from most entrepreneurs – who only rely on the sweat from their own brow, at least initially.
Is the Entrepreneurial Spirit Good for Your Health?
Here, we get to the meat of the discussion. Is an entrepreneurial spirit – one that sees you working extremely long hours, with little recourse – good your health?
It’s certainly good for your wallet and your career. But if you’re not careful, no, it most certainly is not good for your health. The drive, persistence, and commitment it takes to make something of yourself don’t do any favors for your physical and mental health.
I can’t even count how many times I stayed up super late working into the early hours of the night. Only to wake up early the next morning, and head right back into my office for more work. This is not a complaint, so don’t take it as one. I absolutely love what I do and I wouldn’t continue to invest as much as I have if I didn’t enjoy it.
But that doesn’t change the fact that it requires a lot of sacrifice from me, both in body and mind.
Working long hours has been linked to higher stroke and coronary heart disease rates. That’s bad news for me, because heart disease runs in my family, along with several other severe ailments.
Personally, I want to combat the growing risk work life is putting on my health.
Recently, I started an exercise regimen for myself, one I used to have when I was much younger. My hope is that I can whip my body back into shape, whilst still maintaining the same work schedule and habits.
My fear is that even with a good exercise schedule a lot of the damage is already done. Once you slip into a schedule and get used to something, it’s hard to break. My habits, which include long work hours, are going to be a tough to break.
I have been trying for years, decades even, to kick the habit of chewing on my nails.
What I really want to explore, is whether or not I’m alone? What do you do to keep yourself happy? Does your entrepreneurial spirit hinder your health in any way? What advice can you offer to me – and others – that may suffer from health issues?
I’d love to hear from you.