“Hustle culture” is largely characterized by long hours, a breakneck pace, and an insatiable drive to develop any and every passion or idea. A 2020 article from ABC found that 40 percent of Americans couldn’t cover an unexpected $400 expense, signaling economic issues that lead to many people adopting a “side hustle” to pick up extra income.
No doubt there are many benefits to the values of hard work and passion that underpin hustle culture. Many believe side hustles encourage innovation, foster creativity, and bolster independence, on top of providing an additional source of revenue. By extension, a successful side hustle could allow you to start your own business, in turn allowing you to set your own hours, generate your own profit, and have your own impact on your community.
Despite the benefits, hustle culture impacts our lives and work in several negative ways. For example, reports from UW Medicine found that increased work hours actually lead to decreased productivity. Constantly “grinding” to get a leg-up, more often than not, leads to one thing: burnout. Hustle culture also contributes to an unhealthy work-life balance, according to psychiatrist Dr. Ruksheda. If you buy into the lifestyle promoted by hustle culture, what stops you from answering emails in the middle of the night when you should be sleeping? Or doing work in the middle of a family event? What keeps you from never developing any hobbies that allow you space for creative rest?
Many people have spoken out against the toxicity of workaholism, with the World Health Organization finding that 745,000 deaths per year are attributed to overwork. A New York Times article published in 2019 called hustle culture “inherently exploitative,” citing companies taking advantage of employees’ simultaneous need for income and guilt over taking breaks. Perhaps no better example of this exists than the Silicon Valley work culture in which every ‘benefit’ is geared to keep you in the office as many of the 24 hours as possible.
In order to actually achieve the success promoted by hustle culture, one must have a healthy work-life balance. The same report from UW Medicine found that burnout and working overtime have been linked to high blood pressure, excessive alcohol use, heart problems, and depression. As such, it’s important to take regular, meaningful breaks from work.
Rest is, in itself, productive because you’re recovering from the stress felt, and effort exerted while working. As stated in Forbes, “We are not like the machines we’ve built,” we need breaks in order to perform our best. If you don’t allow yourself to recover, you can’t expect your work ethic or quality to be sustainable.
Resting and recuperating allows you to clear your mind and unwind, which then helps you refine and improve your work in the future. Here at Ideamix, we recommend our employees set schedules for themselves with breaks scattered throughout. This way, we are able to ensure that our team is motivated and clear-headed while working. Productive work is the key.
It’s important to make sure that the breaks you’re taking will actually allow you to rest. If possible, decrease screen time by reading a book, getting out in nature, and spending time with loved ones. If you’re feeling tired, take a nap! Or, take some time to meditate or do yoga to center yourself and encourage increased blood flow.
By extension, your hobbies can just be hobbies — you don’t have to monetize them in order for them to be worthwhile. Having passions that aren’t work-related is incredibly beneficial to your mental health and emotional wellbeing. Hustle culture would view hobbies disconnected from work as unproductive avenues.
You’re your own person! Your experiences and circumstances are unique to you, and so your journey is going to look different from that of your peers, coworkers, and competitors. Further, don’t worry that you’re lost while everyone else knows what they’re doing. You only see the finished product of people’s work — well-publicized online and in traditional media that only shows the rosy afterglow of hard work. You don’t see the late nights, self-doubt, or frustration that lead to the final product. More often than not, everyone around you feels the same way you do.
It’s important to remember that your imposter syndrome is lying to you. You’ve worked hard to be where you are, and you deserve to see your efforts come to fruition. Imposter syndrome is especially taxing when you consider the impacts of device fatigue, and how social media allows us to constantly compare our lives to the lives we see others display online.
Even people like Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, one of the most successful business networking platforms, have spoken out against the rhetoric promoted by hustle culture’s breakneck pace.
“[The real peril lies in] the pervasive tale that you can — and that you must — work inhumanly long hours. Put yourself under enormous stress. Forego sleep, meals, relationships, and life’s other pleasures. And that doing so is a fundamental part of the founder’s journey,” said Hoffman in his podcast Masters of Scale. “I believe that to survive your entrepreneurial journey, you have to learn how to recharge yourself….Your business and your life depends on it.”
Another tech giant, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, has also been quoted saying, “This idea that unless you are suffering, grinding, working every hour of every day, you’re not working hard enough…is one of the most toxic, dangerous things in tech right now.”
There is more to life than your work. It’s not only unrealistic but also unfair to demand that you work like a machine that doesn’t require breaks from or adequate compensation for your labor. In order to achieve the goals you have set for yourself, you have to make sure that your path is sustainable and healthy for you. Only by taking care of yourself can you move forward feeling good about the effort you have put in.
Did you enjoy this article? Read more like it here: How to Defeat Zoom Burnout and Why Finding Yourself Has Replaced the Corporate Ladder
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