How I learned to live a full life as an entrepreneur

jane chen

Here are words of wisdom from an entrepreneur who used to over-focus on her business but learned soon enough how to live a more balanced life:

Do not let fear hold you back. Starting a business and moving to another country  to launch it was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. But by focusing on my mission, rather than being overwhelmed by possibility of failure, I was able to forge ahead. You never want to miss out on an amazing opportunity because you were too scared to give it a try. Know in the face of failure, you can simply try again.

Define yourself by your values, not by external validation. It’s so easy to let your sense of self worth be defined by what others think about you, or by achieving certain goals, recognitions or accolades. As an entrepreneur, you’re constantly moving from one goal to the next, always trying to achieve the next milestone: that flashy award, quarterly revenue goal, or prestigious speaking opportunity.

But at the end of the day, what is most sacred are the values you live by – and for me, that’s trying to do the right thing, having integrity, and helping others. Ensuring your actions are aligned with your values is far more important than achieving success in the eyes of others. Your sense of self becomes fragile when it’s dependent on external validation. Instead, be clear about your values, and live by them, because this is the strongest foundation of who you are.

Spend time with people you love. Startup founders love their work – it’s part of what makes them successful and driven. But often, we entrepreneurs become so fixated on our projects that we fail to spend time on what matters most: our personal relationships. I’ve certainly made this mistake – and am ridden with guilt when I’m having dinner with my parents, checking my email every five minutes or simultaneously dealing with a fire drill at work. That’s why the passing of my uncle threw this priority into relief for me: our businesses may very well outlive us, but human beings are mortal. Express your gratitude to those whom you care about now, and treasure every moment with them as if it were your last.

There have been many periods when I’m so focused on the end goal, I forget to have fun in the process. I adored one of my co-founders, Linus Liang, for always bringing humor into our workplace, no matter how stressful the situation was. Life is too short not to find the fun in anything that you’re doing. As someone once told me, “the universe will go on without you.” Don’t take yourself too seriously, and enjoy the journey of life, wherever it ends up taking you. Laughter is truly the best medicine in life. Find the activity that brings out your inner child, and indulge in it as often as possible.


–          By Jane Chen, CEO,Embrace Innovations