Always be hustling.
At least that is what the ubiquitous hustle culture tells us. If you own your own business? Hustle twice as hard. Work twice as long. Do not rest, do not have fun, and do not be disconnected from your tech.
At least you are doing it all for yourself vs someone else’s business though, right? The “why work 40 hours for someone else when I can work 80 hours a week for myself” BS.
You have heard it, read it, seen the memes.
The problem? It perpetuates a system and culture in which we are expected to exploit ourselves for something “out there.” The 6, 7, 8 figures. The likes, followers, and visibility. All while losing the most precious and valuable assets you have – wellbeing, relationships, and time well-spent.
I have witnessed an uptick of big names doubling down on the do more / hustle more philosophy. Claiming that people like me who refuse to be swept up in the drama of a system of misery and self-abuse are wrong. Not willing to do what it takes. Too soft. Will not succeed. Banished to mediocrity.
If mediocrity means being able to breathe deeply, enjoy sunsets, and find peace in my day; by all means, banish me!
If success means exploiting myself, you can keep that. It is not success by my definition.
The critical distinction. Hustle vs hustle culture.
There is a difference between hustling (when it is called for) and hustle culture.
On occasion you may need or choose to pick up the pace, put a livelier spring in your step, dedicate more time and effort to your work. That can be a lovely thing. People I work with are creating something meaningful for themselves and those they serve.
The danger lies in succumbing to hustle culture. That never ending feeling that you need to do more, have more, be more. It is never enough. The harder you work, the harder you must work. You rest only so you can output even more tomorrow. Putting in more time, effort, and productivity so you can do more to get more.
This is a road to self-abandonment and a hollow existence. One that is singularly focused on ambition. Our culture tends to iconify these people regardless of how dysfunctional or toxic they are as human beings.
Wearing busyness, overwhelm, and hustle as a badge of honor and a measure of your worth needs to stop.
Feeling like a breathless and endless hamster wheel where you can never focus, feel joy, have fun, enjoy ALL that life has to offer, or be present now is atrap.
As a human being (not a human doing), that will catch up to you. Pay attention. Something will break down. It is not a matter of if but when. Health, relationships, fun, creativity, feeling at peace with who you are inside.
So, why does it remain so pervasive?
That is simple.
- The systems are broken and most of our culture rewards it.
- The stories we tell ourselves about what we must do, what we can/cannot do.
What if you just opted out? Did not do the thing that everyone else is doing or that you think you must do?
What might be possible then?
For certain it will feel uncomfortable, and others may not agree or approve. So what? Whose life is it anyway? Whose business is it anyway?
I do not recommend trying to overhaul everything all at once. In my experience the “leap and the net will appear” nonsense always has the complete opposite effect.
For just today choose one small way you can show up and slow down. Pause and breathe. Set and hold a boundary. Give yourself permission to be human. To have more peace or fun or unscheduled time to putter.
To choose to do business in this way is revolutionary. It is a revolution I am fully on board with. What about you?