I took most of last week off, which was much needed to clear my head. My wife and I walked on a beach, ran our dog around, and dreamed about our future. I always underestimate how useful taking a couple of days off is, to recalibrate and plot a new course of action.
I’ve been feeling pretty burnt out. Not because I don’t love what I do, but because I just care so darn much. In the transition from a “programmer” to a “founder” (both labels that I don’t really think capture what it is that I do) I’ve noticed this specific personality trait the hardest to overcome. Put bluntly, this is perfectionism.
As an employed software developer, stressing those tiny details is generally a good thing. Those nuanced decisions that we make during the construction of software are occasionally the difference between shipping on time, and woefully late.
But, as a bootstrapped founder there are just too many things to do. If we try and do everything perfectly, we’re going to be in for a bad time. If you’re wearing all the hats, and you probably are only truly qualified to wear one, two at the most, then you just need to keep moving. All those details don’t really matter that much.
The reality is that there are several forks in the road at any time, for any decision a bootstrapper must make. Mapping out a marketing strategy, developing a product plan, designing, engineering, measuring.
The grind of planning, building, and most importantly, trying and failing to stay positive, wears on you. The “staying positive” part is key, because let me tell you, there are times that suck, and it’s pretty easy to look over the hedge and see your old colleagues still making a fortune at your previous employer, and thinking to yourself: “why am I doing this again?”.