You should be prepared to make this start-up the primary focus of your life.

I saw this line recently in the middle of a job posting, and I had a strong reaction - two, actually, in opposite directions. First, one of amusement and being mildly taken aback. Sure, they’re honest, but that’s a bit of an aggressive and unrealistic requirement, isn’t it? I almost wanted to scoff, ‘Who are you to demand to rearrange my priorities?’

But of course, the other side had its say as well - why, after all, shouldn’t these founders (who were looking for their third) hold any new teammates to standards as high as those that they themselves adhere? At least they list their expectations out for everyone to see, and hopefully avoid problems further down the road.

I’m torn - what is the right way to handle your pet project? I came into this summer wanting a ‘real startup experience,’ one with late nights and young techies bonding over their mutual misery labor. I complained about most people in my office heading home by 7, despite the smaller and otherwise generally ‘startup-y’ feel. But then, faced with an opportunity to interview with a company that would expect more of me - expect me to make it the primary (only) focus in my life. And I don’t know, after all, if that’s what I want anymore.

I do want to care a lot about my work, be heavily emotionally and professionally invested in my product, and I wouldn’t mind it if everyone stuck around until 9 or 10 most nights… but I also appreciate having good friends outside of the company, and coming home to a roommate who cares more about my personal and emotional health than necessarily the health of my professional career.

In any case, I think this is going to be something I’ll be revisiting over and over again in the coming years, and something that will be heavily dependent on my professional focus. We’ll see what happens… and I’ll leave with a quote from a serial entrepreneur’s thoughts[1] on “Rules for Web Startups”:

#10: Be Balanced

What is a startup without bleary-eyed, junk-food-fueled, balls-to-the-wall days and sleepless, caffeine-fueled, relationship-stressing nights? Answer?: A lot more enjoyable place to work. Yes, high levels of commitment are crucial. And yes, crunch times come and sometimes require an inordinate, painful, apologies-to-the-SO amount of work. But it can’t be all the time. Nature requires balance for health—as do the bodies and minds who work for you and, without which, your company will be worthless. There is no better way to maintain balance and lower your stress that I’ve found than David Allen’s GTD process. Learn it. Live it. Make it a part of your company, and you’ll have a secret weapon.

[1] I actually hate the term ‘serial entrepreneur.’ But I suppose Evan Williams has done pretty damn well for himself, and while I want to resent him for trashing this style of working, some part of me supposes he can’t be entirely wrong about everything.

Let me know what you think on Twitter.