The past few months have been some of the most transformative of my life.

No, I didn’t go on a soul-searching journey around the world or have a major life crisis that caused me to reevaluate life itself. I simply started working at a startup.

Coming from my 9-to-5 job in the publishing industry, I was immediately thrown into a world where “leaving early” often means 7:00 pm and where our smartphones are never out of hand’s reach.

It’s also a world where I’ve met some of the smartest and most passionate, hard-working people I know and where “team” is not just a buzzword, but something we cherish and develop everyday here at Hall.

It’s the most challenging and enlightening of all office environments I’ve worked in. And, to be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way.But that’s only because I’ve found my stride.

In my first two weeks as a bright-eyed newbie to the startup world, I did everything wrong. And I don’t mean that I did my work poorly, but that I treated myself poorly.

Being successful in a startup environment has to do with the work you do, but even more, has to do with the work you do on yourself.

In the past months, I’ve learned valuable lessons about what to do and what not to do to avoid burnout, disappointment, and overwhelming stress.

It’s crazy to think, but working your butt off at a startup shouldn’t actually mean being stressed out—it just means accepting what is and letting everything else go. And don’t forget to enjoy the ride.

1. Do the Thing That Scares You the Most

This one I’m still working on. It takes courage, motivation, and some great common sense.

The point is to do the thing that you dread the most first thing in the morning. When you’ve accomplished this task, the world looks friendlier, the skies are bluer, and your day has already been a success.

2. Embrace Failure

We all learned about Thomas Edison as kids, that amazing man who invented the light bulb.

We assume that he simply came up with this idea from scratch, but that’s far from the truth. Instead, he tried thousands of designs before coming upon success.

Edison maintained that the “real measure of success is the number of experiments that can be crowded into twenty-four hours.”

In fact, research from University of California, Davis Professor Dean Keith Simonton shows that creative geniuses, from artists like Mozart to scientists like Darwin, are quite prolific when it comes to failure—they just don’t let that stop them.

His research found that creative people simply do more experiments. And that’s exactly what we promote at Hall.

We iterate, try, experiment, and learn from all of it. This is the best (and only) way to create an awesome product.

We will all fail…a lot. It’s those who are most able to bounce back and try again that are ultimately successful.

Trust me, I like failure as little as the next gal, but knowing that it’s inevitable, and necessary, for success makes it that much easier to swallow.

I think I just had a lightbulb moment.

3. Find Balance

While it’s not #1 on this list, it’s the most important. We hear so much about this so-called “work life balance” these days. But do we heed the advice we are given? Usually not.

As much as I’ve written this one off as unnecessary to my “professional success,” I’ve found that I could not be more wrong.

In fact, finding my balance has been the key to my increased productivity and motivation.

A study released in April, 2012 of 500 IT administrators from various firms by Opinion Matters revealed that 72% of respondents were stressed, 67% considered switching careers, 85% said their job intruded on their personal life, and 42% lost sleep over work.

And this in no way is strictly for IT professionals. We all get stressed about work, and for good reason—it’s our livelihood and (hopefully) our passion.

But stress does us no good when it’s affecting our health, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional.

In fact, The Integrated Benefits Institute reported that poor health costs the US economy $576 billion a year, $227 billion of that in loss of productivity.

So, while it’s important for your company that you are well, it’s solely up to you to make that happen. And that means taking care of yourself.

Since working at a startup, I’ve learned to listen to my instincts. When my brain feels foggy, I take a walk. When I’m tired, but everyone is still working at 6:00 pm, I go home.

As a team, we take the time to go out and eat lunch together on the daily, always returning refreshed and reinvigorated. I also optimize my workspace to make me calm and productive. It’s about being mindful of what you need in your life to stay balanced and happy.

4. Take Initiative

I’ve worked in many arenas that required me to simply do as I was told.

While not the most gratifying of situations, I knew exactly what was expected of me, and I did it. In the startup world, however, there is a much different expectation.

And that is to be a self-starter. Every person at Hall is responsible for immense amounts of work and responsibility.

Hall is growing but still small, and that means that we all have a million tasks on our plates.

In startups you need to have motivated employees.

Without the motivation to create your own tasks, try your own experiments, and analyze your own results, you can easily be washed ashore in the startup tidal wave.

To stay afloat, you must create your own goals. Of course, this is something you and your boss should discuss, but after that, it’s up to you to follow through.

While no one is holding your hand, you’ll sure get an enthusiastic round of high-fives when you’ve been successful.

5. Know When to Just Say “No”

Say it with me: “NO.” Now, doesn’t that feel better? In our society, it’s often deemed as negative to say “no.”

We’re encouraged to be “yes” people, take on every task, and prosper. But this is just not feasible.

A recent article in Psychology Today, “The Power of No,” expresses this.

“Where negativity is an ongoing attitude, No is a moment of clear choice. It announces, however indirectly, something affirmative about you.”

“No” doesn’t mean you are a bad, negative person. It demonstrates something about you and your boundaries. Even more, it may be the word that keeps you sane as the workload piles on. Don’t be afraid to express that you can’t do something—you may even get more respect for it.

6. Accept What Is

The best thing I’ve learned in this startup culture to is just accept what is.

Spending my mental energy thinking of what could, should, or would be is a waste.And it’s exhausting.

This may be my yoga-loving side sneaking in, but mindfulness is crucial for stressful work environments.

When we can accept things the way they are, everything else seems to magically fall into place.

Just breathe.

While an awesome experience, working for a startup is full of challenges, intellectually and emotionally.

But should you push through (and heed some of my advice), you’ll learn lessons that will stay with you throughout life.

You’ll also gain a team of friends who work just as hard as you, share your passions, and will help you celebrate every achievement.

Now, that’s something to start up about! Learn about our “Hall-isms” here.

What Are Your Thoughts On Startup Culture?

Do you think the “startup culture” is a good thing? What do you think of the ideologies that were mentioned? Let us know.

Read more: Stop Being Stressed About Work