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Mental Health Awareness Week: Yo's Favourite Wellbeing Hacks

Yo Percale, the Entrepreneurship Institute's Coach in Residence, shares three of his favourite tools and techniques to help you ride the emotional rollercoaster as a start-up founder.

Being a start-up founder is incredibly rewarding! And I’m not referring to the potential financial gains. No, what I’m referring to, is the way in which the entrepreneurial journey challenges founders and entrepreneurs to confront and overcome their own self-limiting beliefs, behaviours and attitudes. It’s also a tremendous opportunity to learn and practice new skills.

All this personal growth does, however, come at a price. Founders are known to often experience self-doubt, anxiety, burnout and even depression. But there are tools and techniques to maximise the growth and minimise the negatives! Here are three of my favourite wellbeing hacks... 


1. Take time to reflect 

I often refer to reflection as my Habit 1 as it’s so foundational to self-development and wellbeing. It's free, requires no special equipment or facilities, and is accessible to everyone.

What – Like looking in a mirror, reflection is the process of examining our own experiences. Our experience includes our feelings, thoughts, behaviours, and decisions. You can reflect on things that have happened in the past, are happening now, or may happen in the future.

Why – Reflecting helps us understand ourselves better, make sense of our experiences, develop our intuition, lower our barriers to change, and helps us to perform better in every facet of life. 

How – Start by setting aside 10 minutes a day where you won’t be interrupted. Capture your refection using a notebook or a note taking app on your phone. If you prefer to reflect whilst walking, you could also try voice notes. The easiest way to start is to simply write down whatever comes to mind during those 10 minutes.

You might also find using reflection templates helpful to structure your thoughts, such as:

What? Ask yourself what happened, is happening or may happen.

So what? Ask yourself what the meaning, impact or importance of what happened is.

What next? Ask yourself what action (if any) you wish to take going forward.

As you develop your reflective practice, you might find that you start reflecting spontaneously. You should aim to set aside 30 minutes each week to review all your reflections and you guessed it... write down any observations. This is the key step to truly unlock the transformational power to this amazing habit.


2. Spot the signs of upcoming burnout  

Speaking of reflection... how are you doing?

This is a question we probably hear and ask several times a day. The truth is that as founders, we’re often so consumed by our ventures that we lose track of our physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing. It’s a little like driving a fast car without a speedometer or a fuel level gauge.

What – The stress curve (see below) is an excellent visual tool that can help to assess how you’re feeling. It will also enable you to notice trends and develop a deeper understanding of what positively and negatively impacts your sense of flow.


Diagram produced by Yo Percale.

Why – Early warning signs that you're approaching burnout or slipping into a depressive state will enable you to adapt and help maintain flow at where you're most productive, creative and positive.

How – You can add a quick assessment of where you are on the stress curve to your daily reflection practice. The key is to not overthink it. It's not meant to be a scientific evaluation or a contest. You’re human and it's completely natural to travel up and down the curve throughout the day. Simply plot where you feel you are on the curve.

Next, look back over the past 7-10 days to assess your overall trend. Multiple consecutive days in overload might suggest that you need to take a little time off to relax and refuel as prolonged periods of overload ultimately leads to burnout. Once in this state, you’re likely to require a more prolonged recovery process so it's really best to be avoided.

If you find that you’re bored or in a comfort zone for multiple consecutive days, try to introduce more urgency to your tasks or look to reconnect with your passion. It's not unusual for startup founders to get caught in the daily grind and lose track of what got them excited about their venture in the first place. Try and devote some time to whatever that spark is for you.

It's important to remember that it’s virtually impossible to maintain a flow state all-day everyday so your ultimate goal is to find enough flow to keep you happy, healthy and productive. Use this daily reflection to learn what brings flow and what disrupts it.

The truth is that as founders, we’re often so consumed by our ventures that we lose track of our physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing. It’s a little like driving a fast car without a speedometer or a fuel level gauge."– Yo Percale, Coach in Residence at the Entrepreneurship Institute

3. Change your perspective and reframe feedback

Feedback may be the breakfast of champions, but for many founders it’s an acquired taste. Many entrepreneurs see their venture as an extension of themselves, and as such even constructive criticism can take a heavy emotional toll. Rejection of your product or service can feel like a personal attack and setbacks can have a significant impact on your self-esteem and confidence.

Reframing feedback is a simple yet powerful technique that can help you derive the value of feedback and avoid the pitfalls.

What – Reframing feedback is about changing the way we see something. A change of perspective.

Why – Founders who fear negative feedback are more likely to fail as they run a greater risk of developing products and services that nobody wants or needs.

How - A simple reframing of feedback is to see it as data instead of judgement or criticism. Data is useful, and we need data to make decisions. Data provides us with insights and helps us avoid mistakes.

Start by thinking about the assumptions you’ve made about your venture. Next, ask yourself what data would help you validate (proof or disprove) these assumptions. Now, ask yourself who can provide you with this data and the questions you’ll need to ask to get it. It may be initially difficult to request feedback, but the insights, clarity and time-saving will soon outweigh the discomfort.

A simple reframing of feedback is to see it as data instead of judgement or criticism.– Yo Percale, Coach in Residence at the Entrepreneurship Institute



Change Consultant & Coach Yo Percale is part of the Expert in Residence team at the Entrepreneurship Institute (EI), leading as our Coach in Residence.

As our Coach in Residence, Yo supports student, staff and alumni founded ventures in the EI community in areas including team dynamics, effectively dealing with the start-up emotional roller-coaster, and strategic roadmapping. 

Experts in Residence at the Entrepreneurship Institute support students and alumni to start and scale their ideas and ventures through the King's Start-up Accelerator

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Yo Percale

Yo Percale

Coach in Residence

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