life

Intentionality

Written on 19 June 2022

People often want 48 hours in their days so that they can do more things. Working on a startup actually feels like having that luxury. Why? It is not just because we work a lot faster and harder (which we do) but also because I became a lot more sensitive to how precious time is.

There are always more things to do than the time and people we have to complete them. And everything should be done not today but yesterday. On top of that, I also set myself a higher bar. I want to balance my family, my health, and our startup. There's no point in creating something great while burning everything else along the way.

Startup, family, and health. Is it possible to fit all that into a 24-hour day? I believe so. But it requires intentionality.

For example, I never turn on the TV just to have something playing. I know I would definitely watch whatever is on, even if I find it terrible. And I very rarely gain anything from watching the TV this passively. I also gave up on news a long time ago because there is nothing I need to know that doesn't reach me somehow. I still don't subscribe to Netflix because I don't want to default to turning it on and looking for something, or anything, to watch whenever I have time. This isn't to say entertainment is bad. In fact, I think life will be really boring and meaningless without entertainment. I choose to go to the cinema, rent movies from Apple TV, or read a book instead. The latter is intentional.

Similarly, time spent with our loved ones should be planned. It should not be "oh, we will hang out when we are together" because it usually does not happen once we move out. I admit I'm not great at planning gatherings but thankfully my wife and family are. We recently went to a classical music concert, had a family bbq, and met for Father's Day lunch.

When I left my full-time job, I cut several expenses. One thing I wanted to keep paying for is my triathlon coach because I know that is the best way to stay active. He keeps me accountable. And it is so helpful to not have to plan my workouts. I missed only a handful of sessions in the last few years. It would have been the opposite if I depended on myself.

At Dashibase, we decided to not schedule anything or reply to messages on Sundays. We might still work. But there is no pressure to get things done. While we want to work hard and move fast, we know we should make space for rest.

Having said that, I still miss some family gatherings, skip some workouts, spend way too much time on social media than I should, and more. But I try to be a lot more conscious about how I spend my time nowadays.

Either I decide how to spend my time or others (people, algorithms, TV) decide for me.

It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it. — Seneca

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