And what we can do about it
I’ve been seeing more posts and stories lately on the “hustle culture”. It seems to be the ‘it’ buzzword of 2019. It’s the modern day term for workaholic.
The hustle culture consists of people who compulsively work. From the moment they wake up to the moment they go to sleep — if they even sleep — they are hustling: checking their phones, rushing to the office, never taking lunch breaks, working late into the night and throughout the weekends with their coffee, scones, and spreadsheets. They glamorize being “busy”. The busier they say they are, the more street cred they believe they’ll receive.
We’re glamorizing the ‘hustle’. We’ve even created the “side hustle” so you can hustle even more and in addition to your regular hustle.
Then there’s a new “sales hustle”. It is practiced by people who connect with you on social media and immediately send you a private message pitching their business and services. Their messages typically include open-ended question so they can pounce on you like an animal of prey and give you their canned spiel of how they’re the solution to whatever problem you may have. They pretend to be your buddy by giving you some free advice, which is really their lead magnet, link to their webinar, or consult calendar.
Yes, social media is a great place to connect and cultivate business, but IMHO this is icky. It tells me that you have no desire to cultivate a relationship with me or get to know me. You go right for the throat with your sales pitch.
It seems we have turned into a society of hustle freaks. And, while this may be beneficial from a productivity perspective, it’s defecating on our sense of humanness.
“We are created for deeper, more meaningful, richer, and more anchored connections, relationships and moments.” — Jefferson Bethke
The belief that we need to go a million miles per hour on a daily basis as a semblance of success, or treat someone like prospect meat in the spirit of the ‘hustle’ is simply inhuman. It tramples on the idea of developing real relationships, and even having a sense of compassion and empathy.
The hustle culture seems to be especially prevalent among millennials. Gen Xers and beyond can hardly keep up with this mentality because that’s not how we cut our teeth in business.
I personally prefer to not check my phone right when I wake up. I make my coffee, walk and feed the dogs, meditate, read my devotionals and the day’s headlines, and then I check my emails. I set work boundaries. I don’t work after a certain time during the week, and I don’t work on weekends. This doesn’t make me any less productive, effective, or successful. If I were to develop a habit of too much hustle, I would be exhausted, bitter, lonely, and burned out.
Those who have fallen prey to the hustle culture tend to have fewer personal relationships, unhealthy eating habits, and increased stress. Being always on and always working doesn’t create happiness. The FOMO (fear of missing out) that comes with the feeling that there’s something we’re supposed to be doing only creates a sense of anxiety.
Here are some suggestions on how you can break free of the cult-like entrapment of the ‘hustle’.
- Develop a new morning routine that is devoted to well-being: meditate, exercise, go for a hike, read or listen to a book, walk the dog(s)- without your phone! I suggest spending the first hour of your day dedicated to a habit of wellness before you check your phone or hop on your computer, but if an hour is too much at first, then start with 15 or 20 minutes and gradually increase the time.
- Prioritize: Write out a daily to-do list. Pick the five most important items to complete in any given day and rate them from the most important of the five to the least. Spend your day focusing only on those 5 things. If there is something on your to-do list that is not a priority, or if it’s an activity that’s a lackluster ambition, ditch it.
- Schedule regular in-person time with colleagues, friends and family and stick to it. I set aside certain days and times during the week to meet a colleague for lunch or coffee, or go to happy hour with friends.
- Set boundaries for your day. Declare a beginning and end of your day. For the latter, allow yourself to be OK with unfinished tasks. They should be the lowest on your list of five anyway so they can probably wait until the next day. By setting boundaries on your day, you are giving yourself the opportunity to recharge and set boundaries in other areas of your life as well.
- Accept that you’ll never get it all done and be OK with it. There will always be one more email to send, one more text to answer, one more report to file, or one more project to complete. It’s a race you’ll never win, so cut yourself some slack. Know you’re doing alright and things are moving in the right direction.
Breaking free of the hustle culture and finding a good life/work balance takes some time, practice, and patience. It also requires you to let up on yourself and stop being your own worst enemy. Be pleased with what you have accomplished for the day and know that there will always be tomorrow.