Created a throwaway for a variety of reasons. I am currently running a profitable service business, making $10k+/mo. But I feel miserable and I don't understand why. The work I get to do is easy and enjoyable. The clients I get to work with are great. Once I get started working I get stuff done pretty quickly, but the problem is getting started every morning. ONCE I get started, everything is fine, but every day I feel demoralised to GET STARTED. The time period of waking up until getting started feels absolutely miserable. I have no idea how to solve it since, from my perspective, it isn't clear what the problem is. Like I said, the work + customers are fantastic. But why do I still feel so demoralised and horrible every single morning? How could I solve this?
Update: Additional info
* I work from home
* I only work 5 days a week, around 3/4h a day.
* Don't follow a specific diet and don't exercise regularly
I've been struggling with this feeling for a few months now and I can't seem to see why. My days are not long, the work itself is fun, but to get started in the morning is absolute hell. I keep postponing work until late in the afternoon sometimes.
If it's earning you $10k+ a month then you can probably afford going to specialist and by that I mean psychotherapist. Just do it. Don't listen to random advice from random internet people. If you're feeling miserable (especially if it's going on for quite some time) that might be the symptom of some bigger underlying issue.
What helped for me is build a team around you. The moment there are others that join your mission, everything changes. I started out my service based UI design business (http://fairpixels.pro) as a solopreneur. At some point, I started getting the same feelings as you're describing and realised (from past projects) that having a team for support had always worked for me. If you don’t have the budget, no worries. You don’t have to hire full time people. These can be VA’s, freelancers that occasionally help you out or even a mentor that actively pings you to keep updated on the progress you’re making. Knowing you’re not by yourself has been a huge motivator for me and might be the solution you’re looking for. Good luck & feel free to ping me if you have additional questions.
I used to be the same way.
Wake up at 5am, meditate, exercise, and shower before starting your day. Stop eating processed carbs and sugar. Get off the computer at 9pm and sleep at 10pm. Clean your room. Schedule sprints of work for yourself, drag yourself over to your chair, and force yourself to start typing anything. Talk to your friends more often. Set 1-3 large goals at the beginning of the day and explain to yourself why they're important.
There are lots of reasons you might be feeling this way, and it's different for everyone. Maybe you're disorganized, or you feel your work is too easy, or your health is bad. You'll have to find out which one it is by trying a lot of different things.
If after doing all this you still feel the same way, please seriously consider the very real possibility of clinical depression, and seek professional help.
In basically the same situation, here's what's helped me:
1. Hard limits on screen time (e.g. no screens after 5pm)
2. Basketball, tennis, chess (find a social activity - physical ones are a double whammy)
3. Personal training
4. Spend time learning - I spend a good portion of my free time learning about my craft, but also about other things. Variability spices life up a bit.
5. Working from coffee shops
6. Writing. Serves mainly as a way to process my experiences, and the large positive feedback has been rewarding. (example: http://www.programmerfu.com/2017/04/20/fast-is-slow-slow-is-...)
My most recent strategy has been to wake up, make coffee and bust out an hour of focused work before I do anything. My wife works with me during this time, which is nice for accountability and togetherness. Generally, getting that first hour out of the way without "easing into it" with reddit/HN gives me a feeling of accomplishment that empowers me to tackle the rest of the day. And if I'm unmotivated the rest of the day, I know I've gotten a decent slice of work in already.
Without knowing anything specific, lets check the basics
- Sleep: Do you sleep around 8 hours per night and shake that rhythm up sometimes (go party once a month or whatever to give you some change)?
- Sport: You should definitively do something, like go running half an hour twice a week.
- Diet: Not following anything specific doesn't say much ;-) I mean, when you say that, I would assume you are probably eating more suggar/fat than the WHO recommends and less vegetables. So try to bring the sugar consume to a recommended level and try to find out what a healty diet is about.
- Vacation: When was the last time you left the place you live for at least two weeks without even thinking about work? You should do that at least once a year.
- Partner: Do you life alone? For many people it is helpful to have a relationship with someone, but that really depends, as some people are also alone pretty happy.
Last but not least: Finding a good psychotherapist is also something worth mentioning. Its not like you have to have some mental illness to visit them. They are more like consultants on how solve personal pain points.
PS: My personal advice: Do not read news pages before you work. At least for me it kills my productivity and makes it really hard to concentrate at the task at hand (might not apply to you).
I'm also a solopreneur making a healthy profit who has dealt with this. Some days, I'll make up tasks to perform just to keep me busy so that I don't have to go sit at the computer. Or, when I am at the computer, I'll close my email only to reopen it a few moments later. It's the worst cycle of nothingness, especially as a developer, whose primary motivation is to figure out how things work (or, why something isn't working.)
You know what has helped me, contrary to all the advice I've been given?
Stepping away. Stopping trying to fight against the feeling and really listening to it and embracing it. Putting my best effort into the _other_ thing that is keeping me motivated at the time. Slow down, breathe.
Ideally, maybe you can incorporate some of the other healthy advice into your routine or interests. Need to eat better? Maybe you'd enjoy putting more time into the intricacies of cooking. Need more exercise? Try picking up a fun activity where you can level up, like mountain biking.
Consider building a team who can help you to grow your business and become your professional family. Surround yourself with people who you can learn from and help out. Leverage the fact that your healthy solo profit provides the benefit of choosing your hours. We're made to feel so bad if we don't perform 40 hours of work per week, but that's total BS and an outdated social construct.
If you want to talk more about this, I'm on Twitter. @davekiss
Do you work from home? If you do, consider going somewhere else to work, and make that place your workplace. Coworking spaces are especially good because you'll be around people working all day, which will stimulate you to work too, without having to actually employ anyone, like other comments suggest.
Some people are not made to work alone year-long. I know I'm one of them, working for home has been exactly what you described. Now that I'm in an office, I spend most of my workday actually working.
Because there's more to life than being successful and earning money: being part of a team, having successful relationships with family/friends/lovers and other factors is 90% of your happiness..
So the problem is not probably the money, nor actually the diet / exercise, it won't make you happy because you are already disciplined enough in many ways so more discipline to you will not make you more happy. Instead you should focus on these other valuable aspects of life:
- Learning to have fun
- Learning to be crazy
- Deepening your relationships.
You're depressed because there's a lack of something and clearly it's not money so i would say it's relationships / feelings maybe.. or maybe a bit of craziness ? We (SWE/maths guys) live in a world of rule and order but it's not most of the essense of life. Life is messy and cahotic and we are made to embrace it somehow... (edit: even it looks hard or if there is a voice in your head saying 'this advice is stupid')
Finally a quote that i like: "sex is like water, it only becomes important when you don't lacking of".. it's actually not only sex the same for food, personal relationships, money, family. Life is pretty much about equilibrating a few of these "basic needs". Just find what is missing to you.
I'd move to a co-working space or simply rent a small office. I did that while freelancing and startupping and never had trouble starting the day.
However don't be shy to take @dkns's advice try a professionals help, there's nothing wrong taking care about mental health too.
I imagine it's from a lack of mission/end goal. It may feel that you're just "floating by" right now. What are your end goals? What's your mission? I would recommend working backwards from that and setting timelines/goals.
Also, personally working from home as a solopreneur sounds like a nightmare for me. I interact at my best when I'm surrounded by others, though ymmv. If hiring is out of the question - spend $500 of that $10k per month and get a coworking space (WeWork, etc). If that doesn't help you, cancel the monthly contract.
That's a pretty good situation to be in.
I think that maybe it's partially because you spend too much time on Hacker News. On HN, you constantly read about people who are luckier than you who complain about their lives... Then you think "Whoa; these people have way more than me and they're unhappy about it; how am I supposed to feel?" - Answer: "Depressed".
I've been through depression and this sounds like how I felt at many points in my life.
Assuming I'm not simply projecting my feelings, there's a good news: the hardest for me was acknowledging I had a problem (which you just did). Once you pass that and get help you'll get the ball rolling quickly.
I hope you solve that issue promptly, the sooner the better.
Getting into a habit of exercise is the obvious answer. A less conventional advice that has sometimes worked for me is to totally embrace the feeling of being somber, and binge on some of the classic sort of miserable apathetic existentialist books. Things like Albert Camus' The Stranger, Sartre's Nausia, Beckett's Waiting for Godot, and Dostoyevsky's Notes from Underground. Sometimes after I have read those works, after I have stopped trying to ignore the feeling and just went all in for a few days, do I even get bored with being miserable and then start to look for other emotions to experience, and usually they're a lot happier in flavour. Obviously this advice could also exacerbate the problem, so try it at your own risk.
What is your nutrition story like? Do you have a healthy diet?
Your symptoms could also be caused by a vitamin deficiency.
* Don't follow a specific diet and don't exercise regularly *
Honestly, this is the biggest red flag for me. Yes, you may have other personal/emotional/mental health things you want to get support for, but regular exercise can do absolute wonders for your overall well-being.
My advice: watch a couple youtube videos about navy seals -about how disciplined they are and the will power they develop to get up every day and attack the day during their training. Challenge yourself to get up early and do a good quality workout for about ~2 weeks straight, then re-evaluate how you feel. I bet you'll feel 5x better.
For what is worth, you are like my kind of hero. My dream is to someday accomplish something like that and be able to work from home. And on top of that, you have so much time available for other things, that’s awesome.
At the end of the day, save yourself something very simple to start with the next day.
There are different stages in the life of a buisness, this stage may not appeal to you. Maybe it is time to start another one?
- The recommendation to stick to the parts of business development that you love comes up occasionally on the http://www.startupsfortherestofus.com podcast. Rob Walling actually does another podcast specifically targeting mental wellness: https://zenfounder.com
Check this out . . . if you haven't already.
I think this could help. https://zenfounder.com/services/solopreneur/
It's tough being a solopreneur.
One thing that helps me get started is setting up a task I really look forward to working on to be the first thing I work on after some warmups.
Warmups are tiny tasks that are quick and easy to knock out, I usually try to have 4 to 5 of these at the top of my trello board for the day. It literally warms you up to tackle more challenging work.
Start eating a better diet, if you drink soda/sweet coffee try switching to tea and more water during the day.
Since you work from home if you find yourself not getting things done stop. Spend some time with family, go for a walk, go for a bike ride exercise. There are many times during the day where you just get in a lull and aren't doing anything productive at the computer.
Service businesses are tough, you should check out StartupsForTheRestOfUs.com and start learning about building a product or SaaS. This can give you something to look forward to working on and help supplement your services revenue and replace it in the future.
Good luck hope things are going better next week.
Given that you've come here to ask relative strangers about what might help you solve this, it would be easy to presume that you might not have friends and family you can turn to for advice.
But if you do know anyone with a bit of life experience (could be any age or background, but as a general guideline at least late 30s with similar professional accomplishments to yourself) who can make time to talk with you in person, reach out to them.
Let them know you'd like to get their advice on something personal that's affecting your professional life. I'd also recommend refraining from intoxicants for this meeting but the face to face is the most important part.
Others have already suggested ensuring that your personal footing (exercise, meditation, self-care) is solid. This is essential, and as I've grown older I've noticed that I've needed to change the balance and kind of things I do to maintain my mental and spiritual well being.
On occasion, I've gone outside my personal network and sought the help of a therapist. If you haven't already considered doing so, add professional counseling in the list of possible options to help you through this phase of your life.
Emotional and mental well being are, to my mind, the entire point of everything we can do for ourselves and for each other and finding the balance can be hard, solutions elusive.
Given how well you've done for yourself so far, I'm guessing you will get through this even stronger than you were before.
Hey man, there may be a LOT of things going on here, but I can relate. If I don't get my day STARTED by 6am (or so), I see it slipping away from me. Others below have alluded to it, also. Diet and exercise are important (but the world is jacked when it comes to 'exercise', pushing gyms and supplements and dumb sporting events. Honestly, just keep lights low at night before dusk, don't be on devices after dark, read only paper books after dark, and start getting up early (tons of info out there if you search). Get up at 5am, go for a walk and get a coffee (not a sugar bomb - just a small coffee like your grandfather probably would do) and be back at 6:30a to start work. According to you, you'll be done well before lunch. Make plans for a lunch date with friends/family (sounds like you can afford it) and have a healthy fun salad-ish eating out time. Then go do something fun - or go see a movie matinee - or go do things for other people (volunteer, visit your kids if you have any, go make some if you don't... ha ha, or go help other business owners solve problems since you sound like you have good ideas in that area, or go talk to wayward youth at schools... something! Switch it up so you look forward to that afternoon 'you-only' time. Then, do your personal errands at end of day (like the rest of us working stiffs) like groceries, laundry, house cleaning, etc... one last check of devices before dusk, then it's either date night, relaxing at home, maybe a night out 1/2 times/week on the town, etc... No coffee after noon, no alcohol before noon, walk everywhere you possibly can (and keep stretching that), no devices after dusk, and I promise you, no matter what, you'll be feeling at LEAST 3x better in a month or so. Happy holidays, dude.
Well, there is very little data here, but let's guess from it.
You say your job is easy, but feel miserably, so it looks like your body is telling you it needs something you are not providing him.
Let's review the basics: -Do you sleep well? -Do you eat well? -Do you exercise regularly? You answer that question, no. -Do you have friends, wife, partner or children? -Do you spend too much time in front of a computer? -Do you spend too much time sit down? -Do you see the light of the day every single day or work in the dark?
Normally someone will postpone a job that is tedious or hard or makes you suffer(mental). If that is not the case, odds are that it is just a physical thing.
When I started working at home I had to be in front of a computer 8-10 hours per day, but I could not be more than 1 or 2. So I bought a stool, put my screens at eye level while standing up and started going out in sunny Madrid every single day to exercise.
After one year of doing that(it took training of my muscles to be able to work standing up) I could work for more than 8 hours in front of a computer without issues.
There are things like the lymphatic system that needs movement of the body in order to work. If you do not move your body will alert you into stopping whatever you are doing to fix this issue first.
Holy cow you are in a great position. I am guessing you are missing social and health elements because your work life would be the envy of 99.99% about the people on this planet.
You already know how to fix the other stuff: exercise, find new hobbies, find new friends/relationships. Just do it. There are no shortcuts or secrets to getting in shape, getting good at stuff and meeting new people, it just requires a little courage.
When was the last time you took a vacation? It might be worth it to spend some time to find someone to try and hold your clients at bay while you take off for a month or even to just tell your clients that you wont be available for that period.
If you can't take the time off, you can try and travel and work at the same time. You can join a coworking space and meet people and build a community and you might gain some perspective. Developers outside the US make significantly less and you may discover a sense of gratitude that you gain from this perspective.
I've been working remotely mostly in Asia with short stints in South America and Europe for a few years now and this has worked wonders for me. I mostly work alone and I can't imagine being back home doing the same thing.
A change in environment may be all you need to engage in new healthy practices like exercising. For example, if you're near a beach in Bali, like I am, it's easy to jog along the beach during sunset. And if you're not, being surrounded by yogis might get you in some regular classes that may help with being more mindful.
Hope this helps.
Do you have access to a co-working space? What about some meetups in your area?
I work from home significantly and find that I struggle when the social aspect completely disappears from my job. I'm not a particularly social person, but I absolutely need some social interactions to feel positive and happy throughout the day.
Separate your living space from your working space.
I started working from my home and after a few years of productivity and motivation sliding down, I'd spend entire day trying to motivate myself to work to only actually produce a couple of hours of useful work.
I rented a small office nearby that forced me to go out, walk a bit, and separate work from leisure. This has helped me tremendously. Ff there were coworking options nearby at that time, I'd use that - it has the added benefit of having other people around, which will motivate / inspire you.
Additionaly, try to end each day's work with a small, well defined task/thing - leave that bit for tomorrow. It'll be easier to start with, and it'll help you get rolling.
Excercise helps - but dont't try to attack several problems at once. Start gradually.
Seems you are into a light depression, what helps the most is routines! Go to bed the same time every day, wake up the same time every day, eat at least three good meals, at the same times every day. Go to work at the same time, and go away from fork at the same time every day. Get some exercise, like go to the gym, and you guess it, same day, same time every week. Also how long time since your last vacation ? Get at least four straight weeks of vacation every year where you do not work at all. And how does your life look like outside of work ? Do you have relationships, friends and family ? Relations are essentially how much time you spend with someone, so go work on your relations, eg spend more time with people you like.
It sounds like you're depressed, possibly you're in a rut. You should definitely exercise (I know, easier said than done). What's helped me? Going for an hour long walk everyday (I don't do it everyday like I ought to but even 3x per week has tremendous benefits). Walking is enough. Don't feel like you have to change your whole routine, just try walking 3x per week for two weeks. I guarantee that you'll feel better. After that, reassess and see if you need to add/subtract other stuff to/from your routine.
Other things to experiment with: Meditation, social life, meetups, weight-lifting, juicing, etc etc.
It sounds like you might be having a difficult time transitioning from the non-work (personal?) mindset to the work mindset. If this is indeed the case, I have found the following to help: develop a middle ground that warms you up for whichever mindset you shall transition to.
Find some topics within the work domain that interest you personally. (Maybe jot some down as you come across an idea or two while working, then set them aside for this semi-work period.) Allow yourself to look into these, slowly getting yourself interested in moving into the work mindset.
This may feel like you're further postponing work, but it may in fact lead you to start work much sooner than if you did not do this.
First of all congrats on your business success, many here dream of having this.
Could it be that your day misses structure? Is joining a tech hub/shared office an option for you?
I have been working from home for many years. The trick for me is that I have to be careful that my daily life doesn't become too comfortable. I absolutely need to start working first thing in the morning.
What also works for me is getting out. Physical work is important. I do weightlifting and really enjoy sweating and working out.
Go to meetups, do networking or meet clients. This works especially well if you don't like socialising! Because once you have done this, you will feel eager to be back at your home office to work.
As you're getting close to the top of the Maslow Pyramid. Maybe you need to gives more sense at what you're doing and how you are living.
Also as you are working from home it is easy to lose real life socialization opportunities, could it be that?
1) Can you perhaps schedule a brief 10 minute meeting with a client at, say, 9.00am each day to get the ball rolling? It seems like once you get started you are OK.
2) Another option - get a business/life coach - you can afford it. He might give you a call at 9.00am each day for say fifteen minutes to get your 'state' activated.
3) Try starting the day with a workout. Good thing to do anyway.
4) Another thought ....
I'm curious how much of that 10K a month are you saving?
Let's say you save 8K - that's 96K a year savings. Do it for a couple of years and you have 192K - a tidy sum with which to perhaps take a year or two out, doing something that gets you more pumped.
This is what I do. I use a canary pad and I write down specific actions needed. When I complete actions, I cross them out in red. When I get distracted, I look at the pad. I sometimes gamify it a bit, like cross off 3 items then I can play a game or similar.
Also, I have a special DNS set up in my router that shunts certain sites to localhost.
Couch time is a good suggestion. Any therapist worth a damn is going to tell you to walk 20-60 minutes a day, eat right, and supplement B and magnesium at a minimum because all that exercise and nutrition will minimize the funk. And yes, I do that too.
What you describe sounds awful. I'm sorry that you're going through that. Some of the advice already mentioned is good. I would add that everyone needs something outside of work, a social life, hobbies, etc...It doesn't sound like your business suffers if you don't start work first thing in morning. If that's the case, don't worry about it and spend the time from when you wake up on other non-work things. Things that engage your imagination, passions, and body. Then come to "work" in the afternoon refreshed. I wish you the best of luck.
Are you sure all of your work is fun? When you have trouble to get started with something i‘d assum There must be something about it you don’t like.
At least for me that is when i an in a similar state as you describe. It happens every 1-4 months depending what im doing. If i see no sense in my work, have ugly code bases to work with abd colleagues who don’t bother to think crappy code, processes and communication could be a problem, i get into that state... i can then try to change my attitude about it, try to improve the situation, or leave if both don’t work.
At $10k/mo, you can easily afford to hire someone else. That'll both give you a community to keep you encouraged and give you a bit of breathing room, which you should use to take a vacation.
Hey. I was in the same situation a while ago (running a profitable service, making about the same and feeling miserable). What eventually helped was moving from Norway to Spain(Madrid), where I started exercising and for the first time had a proper social life. My body and mind were full of energy all the time. It was like being on opium. Of course, there were some downs now and then. Then in 2014, I meet my wife, we got a child together (now 2y old) and since then my life has been filled with meaning every day.
That is my two cents.
I've in a similar situation in the past. For me, the problem was ultimately boredom and lack of fulfillment. It was the prospect of doing the same thing all day every day with no end in sight, with no purpose other than paying bills.
Consider how much of that $10k/mo it would take to hire 1-2 other people and make yourself unnecessary in the business. Turn it into a passive income as much as possible. If you succeeded in this, you can reclaim your time and do anything with it which is a freeing experience.
You feel miserable. Why? Also, try getting a solid routine. An accountability buddy who you meet with every day at the same time. Perhaps you feel miserable because it is a battle every day, rather than a mindless routine. When you wake up, get up. Don't go back to bed. Get up and make coffee. You can always take a nap later, but eventually, you'll get used to waking up only once. Go watch the sun rise if you wake up too early. Trust that when you wake up, you should just get up.
Though I'm not a solopreneur, I've been through similar streaks of difficult mornings. One thing realised - I was pretty weak on a sense of purpose those days. I wasn't sure what my immediate / 1 year / 2 year goals were and this led to complacency. Maybe deciding where you want to be in a year's time might help. A goal/mission to look forward is certainly a good thing to have. All the best!
Your point #3 about diet/exercise could only help contribute to this feeling...or in other words you're really killing yourself not doing this.
Don't even try to start in the morning. For a couple of weeks, just plan on working in the afternoon maybe starting at 2pm.
Everyone keeps talking about wanting to start work early so they're done early. But relaxed, free mornings are such a wonderful thing! Have breakfast, read the newspaper, enjoy doing stuff that is annoying at other times because everyone is doing it then. Everyone's at work now, so lines are short ;)
Why not just become a digital nomad for a while and go to Thailand for a month, where you can just chill at the beach for $100 living expenses a week, then Argentina, then Israel, then Germany and get to know the world.
Here is a good resource https://m.facebook.com/groups/859952234028551
Let me know if you have any questions of course.
Similar situation here - positive reinforcement helped me.
Every morning, I'd reward myself with something that I like - sometimes I watched a good TV show, sometimes I went to the gym and worked out. I also have a girlfriend but I guess that's a different point. Anyway, I just found stuff I like to do. I eventually associated waking up with happiness.
YMMV. Just what worked for me - try it out if you want.
There's lots of great advice here- especially regarding the importance of being connected to other people and taking care of yourself physically (sleep, exercise, diet). Those are the most basic things to tend to when you're feeling off. I'm a psychologist who works with founders (zenfounder.com) and I can assure you that you are not alone in feeling off your game, even when the business is going well. Sometimes the answer to the question "why am I feeling this way?" is really hard to come by. It might take some time to sort it out. I'm really glad you're talking about it here. That's an important first step. It may be a good idea to see your physician and check your thyroid and testosterone levels. Both can wreck havoc on motivation and can affected by sleep-wake cycles (ie. why you feel so low in the morning). A psychologist or therapist can also help you sort out whether you may be experiencing depression or burnout (low motivation is part of both). Being successful and having a great life don't also protect us from physical problems or from depression. Its a good idea to see a professional to check out a variety of possible causes. If you have a clean bill of health, then it might be time to ask some existential questions: Are you bored? Is your work meaningful to you? Are you as connected as you want to be to other people? A therapist, coach, priest, or good friend may be able to talk you through some of these questions. Feel free to reach out to me directly if you'd like more ideas or resources.
You might have just found a good level. You must have worked really hard to get to this point and now a few hours in the afternoon might be all your body wants to do for good reason.
I go through the same writing my PhD literature review. It comes and goes and I've decided to accept it rather than defeat it.
When I go through periods of making little PhD progress, I don't hate myself and do something else.
You are burnt out. Have a holiday. Take a break. Life isn't about work, work is the process by which we attract coins to live.
I am currently also working remotely but without a team back in the company, struggled with depression and such for most of my life. What helped was a team sport, 3 times a week. Besides all the things the other posters say (sport in general, meditation, psychotherapy) bonding and having a human connection to other people is probably the most important one, IMHO.
I hope you are getting better, friend.
Clearly, to me, you need to find the purpose of your life here on Earth. There are people that may help you, although you have to choose carefully. Not psychiatrists or anything like that. Look for indigo people that have a "highway" connection to the Universe, that came to show the way to others. Read and practice about meditation and spirituality.
Is your current work challenging? You said repeatedly that it is easy and enjoyable but, if you aren't being challenged enough, work can begin to feel pointless even if the work itself is enjoyable.
In my experience, overcoming regular (but not constant) challenges with cultivated skill(s) creates motivation to continue.
How's your social life both during and outside of work? I personally think working with great comedies is invigorating.
Widen your horizons. It's tabu for some to mention but perhaps your lack of fulfillment is of a spiritual kind. I don't mean to become a born-again christian or a hippie, but if that's your thing that's fine too. I'm just saying there's more to life than making money in a pleasant and safe environment.
The good news is, you already know the right things to do, as do we all: diet, exercise, sunlight, meditation, build a good community of friends/family around yourself. In short, take care of your whole being, body, spirit, emotions, social, etc. But the trick is doing it.
Read Superhuman by Habit, and acknowledge and do something about the deep effect community has on you and on your ability to start and maintain habits. This should help build these habits that we all know we should do.
But I also agree with the others on here who said to seek some sort of professional help. If you really want to overcome this, you're going to need someone else's perspective who knows you. Best of luck, I hope you come out of this better than ever!
PS I've been doing 5BX exercise program for a couple of months and it's great. It's designed to increase your chance of sticking to it, which is what so many of us need. Once I started doing this very light workout, a lot changed for me. I started thinking of myself as "the kind of person who works out", and that kind of person also eats well, gets up early, goes to bed early, doesn't drink much alcohol, etc.
I've had morning anxiety for a while. It meant that when I woke up, I had these terrible depressing thoughts running in my mind, and I couldn't get out of that circle of thought. I couldn't get out of bed, and could stay in that mood for hours. I knew that once I got out of bed that it would be over, but I just couldn't do that and wanted to stay there forever. I got out of bed for work, but in the weekends I could waste half a day like that. Turns out that somehow I had stomache or belly tensions (probably caused by overweight). When I figured that out, the problem was solved immediately. Now I wake up, feel that tension, go to the toilet, have some water and let my belly relax for a moment (google for high vs low breathing). I go back to bed and have some sleep. (NB: If this is anxiety, I don't say that this will work for you, but who knows!)
Alternatively, you may be depressed or you sound like that. Find a good therapist to get things clear. Therapies nowadays can be very focused, so it's not about endless talking about vague feelings. If you don't want to say that you have a depression, say that you feel depressed, or that you have decided to go into therapy to find out what is going on. You have the money and the time!
Meditation, dancing, theater sports, book club, fitness, yoga can be therapeutic as well. If you really have a depression, these won't solve that problem, but they make things lighter and life more enjoyable.
Stop working from home. Go to one of those places or bars where people work all day, rent an office for a day, so you meet people. It seems like your lonely maybe? Hire someone or partner up with someone. Having a (business) partner and working from the same place daily will make things more enjoyable.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg gives incredible insight into how to build habits. I highly recommend it.
Create a recurring task for yourself, a very easy one to be done, something mechanic that doesn't require any big thinking, problem solving or making decisions. Design it in a way you could be transitioning from it into actual work for your business. Give it a try. Adjust. Re-do.
Likely unhelpful question but would you be willing to share how you got to your level of success? If you have a blog or something similar, plenty of folks would love to read about your solopreneur experiences. Perhaps some morning writing would help get the day going?
I think you should prepare a solid morning routine, like workouts, running, meditation, etc whatever feels you good to do because it will pump adrenaline in your body which will motivate you to Kickstart your day full of energy. Try it one day and see what works for you.
I walk my dog before and after (occasionally during) my working day - usually five hours per day five days per week. Exercise, fresh air, quiet with the odd chat to fellow walkers.
It makes working from home enjoyable and a bit more sociable. I do one day a week from a co-working space, too.
You may benefit from a bit of life coaching. I have a friend who specializes in this. You've created something awesome but just need to fix a few things in your life. Happy to make a referral if you're interested. E-mail is in my profile.
I'm exactly like you but make $250k per year. Making more money wont solve the issue.
There's been a lot of good advice thrown out there, so I'd just add that you might consider looking into a sleep study. I had untreated sleep apnea and it was like waking up with a hangover every morning.
I hate working from home. Generally if I have something that needs to get done, I go to my office. No distractions there. I feel down/negative if I try to work at home because I see I’m not achieving.
How about selling me the services business? ;)
Jokes aside, loneliness is a serious problem ignored in tech circles. The water cooler talks and that annoying co-worker is missed only when that is missing. So build a team.
> Don't follow a specific diet and don't exercise regularly.
Exercise every day.
Journal, meditate, exercise _before_ you work. Before you even touch your phone. When you get in touch with the WHY each day first, you're more likely to stay aligned with where you're going.
I've posted this kind of answer a couple times:
I started ZeroTier (www.zerotier.com) initially alone. Being a sole founder is tough for many reasons. The biggest one I've found is not so much time in the raw sense but cognitive load. There are so many things to pay attention to at once: fund raising, economics, product dev, HR, engineering, devops, talking to customers, ... it's endless.
Then there's the standard issue rollercoaster of entrepreneurship which you have to weather alone. Some weeks it feels like ZeroTier is going to conquer the world. Other weeks I feel like "wow I'm an idiot this is doomed." I've learned to just ride that up and down thing and always apply a consistent forward pressure no matter how I feel.
Paul Graham always harped on single founders being a bad idea and in general I kind of agree with him. It's a tough thing to do. Doesn't mean it can't be done though and there are lots of success stories. There are many reasons you might be solo. In my case it's because I founded ZT after just moving to the area and developed it alone, so there wasn't a good co-founder. (Just picking a co-founder for the hell of it like getting married by Elvis in Vegas to someone you just met. It's a worse idea than going solo.) If you are solo just count it as one of your disadvantages (every team and venture has them!) and therefore something you'll have to work around/through. Honestly founder drama is way worse. Being solo means you get the problems of solo but in exchange you get to pass on founder drama.
One of the best things I did early on is to move into a co-working space. We are in LA/OC (SoCal) and are here:
It's a friendly hacker space with many tenants from other small startups to consultants and solo people. Lots of events like code camps, maker meetups, and OWASP meetings are hosted here too.
Being at a co-working space makes you feel like you're not totally alone, especially if other entrepreneurs are present. If you have some in your area (most major cities do these days) then I highly recommend using one. If there are options other than the larger franchise ones like WeWork I'd recommend those since they're more likely to feel like a community.
(There are now four of us but we're still here. We occupy a corner office upstairs.)
Other things I highly recommend include talking to other entrepreneurs and independent consultants who are in the same boat. Then there's the basic health stuff. Exercise, eat well, and get enough sleep. Bad health practices can wear you down quick. Imagine you're an athlete trying to keep up on training for your career. You are, but your muscle is your brain. Keeping your whole body fit keeps your brain fit because it's part of your body. The myth of the out of shape genius nerd is just that. Being out of shape makes you less intelligent.
Finally if you are really feeling symptoms of depression go see a psychiatrist. Depression can be biochemical and we have good fixes for that available. The stigma here is silly. If your feet hurt you go to a podiatrist. If you have an issue with your brain you go to a psychiatrist. The brain is an organ like any other and it's one of the most important you have. There should be as much stigma about seeing a brain doctor as there is about seeing a foot doctor.
Edit: if you are in SoCal stop by and visit! My contact info is in my profile.
What is your purpose in life? Does your work align with your purpose?
My thoughts are from extensive research into self-improvement and from personal experience. They are things you could try. Some may not apply as I do not know your personal situation.
- Are you feeling challenged? I found myself in a situation like this in the past. I was wanting nothing, yet felt unsatisfied. It took some time to realize that I was not feeling challenged and felt a bit like I was cruising through life. Things that helped: hobbies, a side-project, and a realignment of how I think.
- Are you getting enough sleep? This one is very easy to get wrong. Everyone is different. Things that helped: going to sleep earlier. Sleeping a minimum of 8 hours per night. Kids got older and don't wake me up as much.
- Are you feeling overwhelmed? I sometimes I would feel overwhelemd in the morning, for no discernible reason at all. It felt there was so much to do, and it created a self-reinforcing cycle that would make it tough to get the day started. Things that helped: getting enough sleep. Having a morning routine that I don't need to think about and just do: get out of bed, go to the bathroom, drink a glass of water, make coffee, brush teeth, hot shower w. cold shower ending, light stretching + exercise, drink coffee, eat breakfast. By doing these things automatically I start the day without actually having to analyze anything. I start moving. Blood start pumping. When I'm done, I'm ready for whatever I need to get done that day. It's a warm up to get the engine going.
- Do you drink alcohol? I found that even small amount of alcohol have an effect on the next day. If you do consume any amount of alcohol, take a week break. Nothing. Nada. See if it helps. If this makes a positive difference, consider changing your habits. Perhaps limit drinking to one or two nights and give yourself a good sober week between the weekends.
- Exercise. This one is tough to get into a routine. I do it on and off. In general, when I do it, I sleep better and the following day just flows better.
- Depression. If these things don't help, you may have light depression. It's not always easy to tell. Go talk to a doctor. It's a sickness like any--no shame in it.
Maybe you're burnout or depressed (see depression signs) ?
I suspect if you take the time to look back at the last few months, and then the last few months +, then run a mental diff, you will find your answer.
It could also be that you are just very bored, no? I mean, maybe you are the type of person who needs a constant challenge to keep going.
Maybe a question of how long you are doing this?
Getting a month off could help if you are in constant "work mode" for over a year or something.
Maybe you dislike the tools you use, or the domain you work on...
Without details, it's difficult to point the issues.
You could try to ask that to someone you trust.
I've lived this type of life for the last 5 years (solopreneur as you put it). Reading the other comments it seems like you don't have very strict boundaries of work time. You're getting a lot of good feedback. I agree with others you are likely experiencing burnout. You obviously like your work, but if you aren't motivated to get started then it will probably not get any easier. Again, from experience, spend your off time not doing or thinking too much about your work.
Are you sure you don't need another goal? sounds like you might have hit a plateau and it's time to find another goal.
try to analyze what you're doing when you're postponing your work.
what are you doing instead? what are you seeking out? it might give you an indication to what're you subconciously seeking
a lot of suggestions here about what it could be... maybe you're bored, maybe you're seeking socialization.
PM if you are in Austin, TX. (my current HN username @gmail.com)
I've been in similar situations. Having people to talk to matters.
Make a list at the end of the day of what you should do tomorrow. Use that list in the morning to get started.
get some exercise first, THEN start work
A food change can be an immediate, large improvement. Cut out the sugar entirely. That includes the lattes.
Are you maybe bored? Or feeling unchallenged? Maybe you’re lonely?
These are all things I struggle with as a solopreneur.
Go find a coworking space. Being in a good one has, quite probably literally, saved my life.
Run, meditate, find a way to give back. Perhaps set a challenge to make the business turnkey.
The advice you might get here are worthless compared to a few hours talking to a shrink.
Sound like you need a vacation.
Exercise. It'll really help mentally and physically. Seriously.
.. and when is the last time you took a vacation longer than a week?
Do you work every day?
From my point of view, your professional situation seems really enjoyable.
I guess the first step is to be proud of you. Next, go to the gym, and spend more time with your loved ones (friends/family). Do you have a hobby?
You might be bored.
It sounds like you don't have clarity of purpose in your life. Work is just a comfortable distraction. Diet and exercise won't solve your problem.
Get into a spiritual practice that is non sectarian or religious. Yoga and meditation can help you.
Hope you feel better soon.
Creating an anonymous account to respond for obvious reasons as well...
I've been a de facto solopreneur for a couple of years now, and I deal with the same feelings every day. I don't particular like the market I'm in—I really don't think there's any kind of social good that comes out of it (arguably its a social ill), although on an individual basis I do like my customers. I have a partner who's been basically AWOL since taking a couple of new jobs (consecutively—neither of us was full time and she's an attorney in her day job). Its basically on me to handle not just the tech but sales, marketing, design, etc, most of which I'm really not good at (everything but tech, basically.) On top of that, because of the way we're structured and the agreement we negotiated when I started trading time for equity, back when she was more active, she's getting about 30% more of the cash-out from an impending sale.
(side rant: I used to be opposed to vesting schedules on a company that's bootstrapped—no more. If you have one or more partners, you need to be on a vesting schedule. Period. There's a reason those are a thing. As far as that goes, I basically made every mistake you can make in getting the company to this place—the fact that I'm even seeing a prospective payday is almost in spite of the mistakes we've made, not because of anything special we did. Someday I'll be able to tell that story.)
On top of all that I rolled out the new version of our platform a month ago and overall its not going great. It was premature but because its been delayed several times and our work is seasonal, there was a hard deadline on getting it out and I had to release it missing several features that were part of the old product. (As I'm writing this, I'm cringing—another rookie mistake from someone who ought to know better.)
All that to say, you're not alone in finding yourself in this position. Something I spend a lot of time thinking about when I'm not fantasizing about accidentally stepping in front of a bus is what gives me meaning and self-worth, and how fucked up it is that so much of that is tied to my career. I'm also a father (so no, won't be intentionally accidentally stepping in front of any busses) and a husband, and when I'm being objective, a friend to many and mentor to more than a few. There's more to me than just my career, but damned if I could prove it right now.
So now I'm really trying to consider how to claw my way out of feeling this way. I see both a therapist (two, actually—one personal and one couples) and a psychiatrist, I'm on an antidepressant, and before anyone goes dropping medical advice without a license— I've got years of experience with different meds so yes, I'm certain this one is the right one for me. No, I'm not exercising or getting enough sleep, and yes, I recognize that's likely part of the problem but its difficult mental hurdle to get over to take time away from (unproductively) coding. As I'm writing all this down it sounds even worse.
Sorry, I keep trying to get to my point but I get sidetracked (also I'm super ADD, and depression and sleep habits accentuate that). My therapist and I talk a lot about how people with a certain kind of mind/mindset need stimulation, and part of the problem for me is that the work simply isn't stimulating. I've got too much free time (until I've got not enough) and I haven't always done a great job at finding something new to engage in on the side. I picked up a new platform a couple of years ago, which has been a lot of fun to work in (but then I decided to port our platform over to that, which arrested all forward momentum product-wise—like I said, I've made every mistake you can make as a company here...) Maybe what you need is something engaging to start your day with—learn AI (that's what I keep promising myself after this exit happens, assuming it does) or get into some side of technology you've always been less good at. For me that's hardware—I dropped out of my CS program well before we got to the more advanced circuits classes, so while I understand digital logic the EE side of things is a black box for me I've always wanted to grok.
Maybe you just need more work to do—sounds like you've got a lot of free time, thought about consulting work or mentoring at an incubator? As boring a the business may be, I'm certain you've learned a lot of things the hard way, and that's valuable knowledge to share. Maybe if you put something in the afternoon that you really want to do, getting work out of the way early would be easier. But also, maybe you're just not a morning person. If your company is making you enough money, and it really only takes 3-4h/day, is it so bad you don't start til the afternoon? Some people just don't click in til then. Also worth noting, the average american worker only spends about 2-3h/day doing actual work [https://www.inc.com/melanie-curtin/in-an-8-hour-day-the-aver...]
Getting out of the house would probably help some too. Do you have a dedicated work environment? I bought a house recently and one of my favorite things about it is that I have a dedicated office now. (I also get an inordinate amount of pleasure out of yard work, which is difficult to explain. When I'm not fantasizing about bus factors, I fantasize about pulling weeds. Go figure.)
I've been kind of thinking about starting an accountability group or something with a couple of friends. That might be something to consider.
Anyway, I'm sorry to hijack your post with my own problems. I hope there's a kernel of something in there that points you in a direction that makes you feel more fulfilled. Best of luck, friend.