Building out a company and a business has been my greatest challenge so far. The company’s mission is built around continuous integration and continuous improvement, the constant drive of always getting better at what you do.

As engineers, we’re trained to fix bugs, to build out new features, to hold postmortems where we analyze what didn’t work and how we can improve things.

As founders, we follow a similar pattern. We have a ton of ideas on what we want to improve, where we want to get better, what part of the product still isn’t good enough, how many more customers we want in the next 12 months. After all, our product only needs one more feature and it will finally break through, right?

Scaling up a business is, at least in the early stages, a lot about iterating on the product. We strive towards acquiring more and more customers by building more and more features, and we want to continue doing that, just like we did in the early days, because it worked so well.

Do you know that feeling? You’re never fully happy with what you have, because you have so many things that you like to improve around the product and around the company. Once you’ve fixed one thing, you move on to the next. It’s a continuous cycle, and vicious one. Nobody deserves to be fully happy until you’ve fixed more things.

I’ve been in this very same cycle, and it’s a downward spiral, especially dangerous when everyone thinks that way. Remember, as a founder, you set the tone in the company more than anyone else. If you always insist on improving, never pausing, everyone else will.

What’s missing in this picture? In the picture, we run from one thing to the next. We’re always running, we barely look back, because we feel looking back isn’t yet warranted, not before we do a few more things. Looking back would feel like standing still, like taking a deep breath, and we don’t have time for that. It’s a competitive market, the next pivot is just around the corner, there are always more reasons to keep on running. You keep running towards an unknown future, barely appreciating what you have.

And therein lies the problem. Appreciation feels undeserved, it feels like you’re stalling. You can’t allow yourself to marvel at the thing you’ve built for fear of wasting time not improving that thing, for fear of appearing selfish or bragging.

It’s good to push further and improve what you have.

But if you never take the time to appreciate where you are, you’ll be running indefinitely, and you’ll expect everyone on your team to do the same thing. If you don’t pause to celebrate achievements, neither will they.

Travis CI is now a team of 23 people, it has more than 2000 customers all over the world, and it’s running more than 230.000 build jobs every day. The running self would tell us that we were probably lucky to get here and that we need to continue running to make sure that we can keep and grow those numbers.

A different kind of me can now pause, take a deep breath and be incredibly proud of what we’ve built so far, regardless of where it’s going in the future. This new me I only got to know this year, and I’ve even started accepting the seemingly selfish thought that I had a part in achieving that.

It’s okay and necessary to give yourself credit for something you’ve done, but to get to that point, you need to stop running every once in a while. Taking a moment and a step back to reflect and appreciate what you’ve already achieved can be a much more powerful and energizing experience than always looking for more things to improve.

One of the things I've been committing to doing every day is to either take a walk or to go on a bike ride. The goal is to generally get out of the house and to escape the challenge of working from home and to never put on pants.

I love riding my bike, it's a pretty mindless exercise. I get to pedal like hell, wheel down 30-40 km and get some good exercise. But overall, it's still an exercise that requires my attention to avoid hitting pedestrians, cars and other objects. I rarely get a free mind to let my thoughts flow and to think about things that come to mind.

This is where walking comes in.

Working at a standing desk already gives me the feeling of having more freedom to step away from the computer, to think about a problem as it comes up.

But walking is different. When I leave the house, the first couple of minutes feel like a lot of noise in my head.

After that, things are starting to slow down. Rather than be there all at once, some thoughts just flow naturally from one to the next, giving me time and peace of mind to actively think about them.

Getting to that stage requires a longer walk for me, I can't just walk to a shop and back.

The same is true for talking to someone. The peace of mind helps to talk things over, to get away from distractions. I found that it's nicer to walk and talk than to just sit.

This is even backed by studies now. A recent Standford study found that walking helps foster creative thinking.

If not for exercise, as a creative worker, that alone should give you enough incentive to step away from your computer, to step out of your car, and to just walk. To get the most out of it, leave your phone at home. Fewer distractions make for more time for your mind to wander.

You should try it, you don't even need a Fitbit, just start walking. It may just make you a happier person too.