Someone asked me the other day if I've been working such an exorbitant amount because I'm trying to fill an emotional void.
"No," I replied. "That's what baked macaroni and cheese is for, isn't it?"
It's 1:44 a.m. MST on Wednesday morning. I'm at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. I should be out networking or sleeping, but I'm sitting in bed writing and processing the last two weeks, which have been a mercurial combination of rewarding, doubtful, enlightening, frustrating, and magical -- sometimes all in the same breath.
I recently launched a campaign to raise funds for a show I'm developing called "Magic Makers," which is about a group of nine genius teens using science, tech, and art to transform communities. Our goal is to spark creative ideas around education and have a positive impact on communities in need. This is the biggest creative endeavor of my life, and I've never been hungrier, yet I've never felt more full.
As any entrepreneur knows, when you're building and nurturing a company or product there's always something you can be doing to bring it to fruition. There is always a one sheet you could be writing, emails you could be composing, teams you should be managing, outreach you should be conducting, brainstorming you can be facilitating, or a big ask you could be making. While all of this is crucial, I'm learning that the most important action item is to check in with myself regularly throughout the day. And by that I mean, stepping away from the computer and the phone and breathing.
Here are few habits I'm making a point of instilling in my daily routine.
1. Meditating for 10 minutes before opening my inbox.
Here's the thing. If I start reading my emails before I meditate, I won't meditate that day. Since we've launched the campaign, email has been like crack for me, more so than usual. I typically start reading my emails at about 5:00 a.m. while I'm still in bed. When I get out of bed two hours later, I reconvene reading emails and the newswires. Meditation must come first. It's an instrumental practice for checking in with yourself -- taking a moment to realign with your ultimate vision.
2. Putting everyone's health, including mine, first.
Since we launched the campaign, my sleeping, eating and regimen have been nearly nonexistent. As a result, my eyes are glazed over, my jeans are falling off my waist, and I'm drastically out of shape. If I'm sounding like a martyr that is not my intention. I love what I'm doing. I love that I'm working with a miraculous cast and team to get this passion project off the ground, and I'm in awe of the synergy that's begun to grace us on this journey. I'm just awakening to the fact that if my health goes, everything else goes down with it, and I'd have a tremendously difficult time forgiving myself if that happened.
3. Remembering to play.
The nine young Magic Makers in our cast, (Jack Andraka, Birke Baehr, Samuel Fok, Abby Harrison, Easton LaChappelle, Nikita Rau, Mariah Reyes, Naomi Shah and Adora Svitak) were recently featured in a Forbes piece, highlighting what entrepreneurs can learn from their ingenuity. What struck me about them and continues to inspire me every time we speak is that not only are they examples of the most informed, connected generation in history, they are unabashedly, unequivocally unafraid to fail. And they're unafraid to fail because they're young enough that they still play. They collaborate, and they come up with ideas just crazy and imaginative enough to work.
4. Loving myself as much as I love the vision.
I don't know any entrepreneurs who aren't hard on themselves. Many friends and colleagues of mine don't see their company as just a company -- they see it as their purpose, their calling. I relate. In fact, I've made that exact claim out loud. But we have to be gentle with ourselves for our own sakes and for the sakes of our dreams AND the people we love. The Magic Makers cast members are all humanitarians by nature. At the core of their dreams is the quest to help others. That's love. The adage the real love comes from within reigns true for a reason.
In 2013, I traveled to 10 countries in six months. I had the freedom to make business my pleasure. Someone recently asked me if I travel so much because I have a fear of commitment.
"No," I replied. "I just haven't found or created a love great enough to keep me still... until now."