Hustle Culture: Is It Time to Slow Down?
When was the last time you felt truly comfortable allowing yourself to do absolutely nothing? How long has it been since you spent time indulging in your favorite hobby or activity without feeling a pang of guilt about the fact that you could be using that time to be productive or make money?
Welcome to hustle culture. We live in a society that places our value and importance on what we produce and its monetary value over what we believe in or who we are at our core. We fawn over the people who are able to work 16-hour workdays and still maintain their side business or lucrative Instagram following.
In fact, many people have what we call a “side hustle,” or a job outside of your job. This drive to produce is so pervasive that the idea of working during your free time probably doesn’t seem unusual at first glance. After all, all this hard work and side hustle will pay off eventually, right?
While having some extra spending money can feel wonderful, this hustle culture may be setting an unsavory precedent. Doctor April Wilson describes hustle culture as being “about a human doing rather than a human being,” which she says is dangerous in more than one way.
Let’s take a moment to explore exactly what hustle culture is, how it started, and why it may be hindering your personal growth as an individual.
What Is Hustle Culture?
You may already be familiar with the term, as this idea of working yourself to the bone for a hypothetical future payoff is anything but new. In fact, the term “workaholic” was first coined in 1971; and while the two ideas are separate, it’s clear that the concept of the daily grind is not exclusive to the current climate.
Think about the following phrases, which are rather common today:
- “Get that bread.”
- “How bad do you want it?”
- “Invest in your dreams. Grind now. Shine later.”
- “I’d rather hustle 24/7 than work 9 to 5 to make someone else rich.”
Think about that last one in particular. Does this seem like a fair trade or the result of a clever marketing campaign? On the face of it, does it make sense to prefer working nonstop over working an 8-hour day?
The idea behind this movement is to make the most of your time on Earth through productive activities that will either move you closer towards your financial goals or help you attain a certain amount of freedom as an individual. And while there’s nothing wrong with working hard to achieve what you want in life – in fact, it’s admirable – it can be detrimental to assume that time spent doing anything outside of some form of work is time wasted.
Are There Pros to Hustle Culture?
From the perspective of a person pushing to have more, Hustle culture may just appear to be a great way to stay motivated and push towards their dreams, but it is often more harmful than helpful.
The pros may be that you get your goals accomplished, but you have to consider what you lose along the way. The current culture we live in views the end product as the only measure of success but consider, are fun things without an end product a waste of time?
Things without a monetary outcome, like hobbies, relieve stress, connect you to others, build skills, and increase your confidence - when we give in to the “everyday hustle” vibe, we in some ways negate the value of this enriching inner growth.
The Cons of Hustle Culture
So sure, there are a few upsides to hustling. You have more money in your pocket, you feel more accomplished, and you may receive accolades or admiration from those around you. But what are you giving up?
1. Increased Stress Hormones
One of the biggest pitfalls in hustle culture is the stress that it puts on your body and your mind. It’s nearly impossible to relax when you’re constantly grinding, working, hustling, or thinking about new side-hustles to pursue. All this stress leads to a spike in cortisol levels, which is known as the stress hormone.
Stephanie Benjamin, a doctor based in California, says, “A burst of cortisol readies the body to fight or flee from a dangerous situation.”
Is that how you want your body to feel? The fact is that your body needs plenty of rest between stressful workdays, and if you’re spending your nights and weekends working on your side hustle it has no time to relax and recuperate.
2. Burnout From Zero Rest
With no downtime, your side hustle can end up eating into your passions, hobbies, and favorite pastimes. While you may feel fine with burning the candle at both ends right now, you may find yourself growing more frustrated by the day without joyful, creative outlets.
If hustle culture is supposed to set you up for a future of rest and relaxation, doesn’t it make sense to engage in some of those feelings now? If you don’t make sure to carve out time for the things and the people that you love, you may end up feeling like your job and your side hustle are the only things in your life.
3. Loss of Energy In Everyday Life
On top of the lack of free time, your side ventures may actually be disrupting your regular work. Starting a new side hustle can be exciting, and you may end up spending more time and focus on that than your day job.
Furthermore, all that nonstop work can lead to exhaustion and burnout, which can have lasting repercussions. Think about working or grinding for the next five to ten years and imagine what you might be missing out on. As you take on more stress and more responsibility, life continues to happen all around you, and your body continues to carry this stress.
4. Relationship Struggles
Hustle culture is a sensationalized version of a much more negative term: Workaholic. Just as we associate with a workaholic, hustle culture can negatively affect our personal relationships as we favor the hustle over the connections we have with other people.
A disconnect happens when a person prioritizes their work over the time they spend with those around them which can lead to a loss of intimacy, loss of emotional connection, loss of time spent together, and, eventually, the loss of friendships entirely.
It may not feel like it while in the thick of hustling (because you are so busy), but eventually the mental stress and the lack of connection can catch up to you. Years from now, you may look back feeling tired and dispassionate, wondering what birthday parties and backyard barbecues you missed.
What Is Your Life’s Purpose?
If you’ve gotten caught up in the hustle and you’re not sure how to pull yourself away, try to remember or discover your life’s purpose. Were you put on this planet to work and produce and nothing more? Or were you brought into the world to create, to share love, to enjoy life, to see the world, to taste every flavor imaginable?
Make a list of the things, the people, the places, and the events that bring you the most joy in life. Do you value art? Do you enjoy sitting down to a delicious meal with your loved ones? Perhaps you have a passion for horseback riding or sculpting, roller skating, or working with animals. Be as detailed as possible and try to remember everything that you feel makes life beautiful.
Now ask yourself when the last time you enjoyed these activities were. There may be a chance that you can’t even remember the last time you felt passion for life – and that’s a sign that it’s time to take a step back from the hustle and take a step towards yourself.
Hard work can pay off, there’s no arguing with that logic. But you’re more than what you do. You are a human being, a spirit, a person that deserve to enjoy life just as much as everyone else. You’re talented and kind and your personality should be shared with the world, not wrapped up into money-making schemes or endless work weeks.
Slow down and enjoy the moment. Take this time to remember who you are. And remind yourself that who you are is much more important than what you do.
Related article: Why Purpose is More Important than Luxury