There are a lot of ups and downs when you’re an entrepreneur. You can feel like you’re on the top of the world one day, then only a couple days later feel like the world is ending. Over time as business improves, you experience bigger wins on the good days, and smaller losses on the bad days. What’s interesting about this is that your happy and sad emotions will not get bigger and smaller, but will continue to oscillate as they did on day 1.
I’m no psychologist, but this assessment is based on anecdotal evidence that was put into words in a fantastic blog post written by Jess Lee. Lee’s post is titled Why Startup Founders are Always Unhappy and she states:
Unfortunately, humans are terrible at understanding absolute values. We are best at understanding acceleration and deceleration, or rate of change. For example, when you are on a plane it is hard to tell if you are moving at 300 mph or 500 mph, but it’s easy to tell if you are accelerating from 300 mph to 500 mph.
My theory is that a founder’s happiness is tied to the rate of change of their startup’s success. In other words, your happiness graph is the first derivative of your success graph.
Lee uses some pretty cool graphs in her post to illustrate the point she is making. She also provides some great ideas on how to manage the ebb and flow of happiness and sadness along your entrepreneurial journey.