Escaping the Hustle Culture
Expectations are high in today’s working world. The rise of the hustle culture puts undue pressure on employees, management, and entrepreneurs to become workaholics — often at the expense of self-care, work/life balance, and relationships.
Unfortunately, this slightly toxic ideology simply isn’t sustainable. From increased stress and decreased productivity to physical and mental health issues, we take a look at how the hustle culture is affecting us all and how you can free yourself from its grip.
What Is the Hustle Culture?
The hustle culture is a workplace concept driven by an intense focus on ambition, success, and productivity with little to no concern for self-care. By living this intense lifestyle of long hours and focusing solely on work, you’ll achieve your professional goals faster and more efficiently.
Hustle culture is not a new concept. Think of the American Dream, which tells us that anyone can achieve anything they set out to if they work hard enough. The 1970s saw the rise of workaholics while the ‘80 and ‘90s brought us the yuppies, the young upwardly-mobile professionals encouraged to work extra hard for their well-paid city jobs.
Today, the hustle culture is commonly seen among entrepreneurs. Anyone starting their own business has to “hustle harder”. How can you expect to be successful if you take time off to relax? But, it’s also an ideology pushed by many employers as they attempt to get as much out of employees as possible.
Glorifying the Hustle Culture
More and more, people think the hustle culture is the only way to succeed. The young are expected to prioritize achieving high grades at the expense of their social lives. Once they’ve moved into the workplace, they soon realize that management tends to reward those employees who start early and leave late. It’s also expected that you’ll be available whenever you’re needed, with smartphones making us contactable 24/7.
Successful entrepreneurs are respected and praised for the long hours they put in at the expense of family life. They’ve become role models for small business owners who want some of that success.
And, thanks to social media, the hustle culture has become a sort of phenomenon. Celebrities and influencers constantly share images and videos of themselves working late into the night. Switch on the television and you’re bound to find a show on a young hustler who’s sacrificed everything to make it big.
Why is Hustle Culture a Bad Idea?
On the surface, the hustle culture seems like a great idea. Work hard and you’ll achieve your ambitions and goals. And, some people do achieve their dreams and are rewarded for their efforts.
However, when you delve a little deeper, you begin to see how this concept can have a negative effect on well-being and people’s ability to perform well.
When people push themselves to the limit, as the hustle culture encourages us to do, it can have a detrimental effect on mental health.
Stress and Anxiety
Putting in all the hustle but not meeting deadlines or achieving professional goals can lead to stress and anxiety. Research suggests that 44% of employees experience some form of anxiety, anger, or sadness, not surprising when they’re trying to perform at maximum capacity every day.
The pressure to work harder and longer can become too much, causing us to worry or become fearful about our future prospects.
Do you feel guilty taking your lunch break when everyone around you is still at their desk? Or, find it hard to relax in the evenings? The hustle culture forces us to feel guilty when taking time off. Taking breaks, holidays, and just spending time away from work is often considered lazy and unproductive.
Even remote workers experience these feelings of guilt. People who work from home are often more productive and have a better work/life balance than their office counterparts. However, they feel guilty about remote working, and many are afraid of being seen as lazy by colleagues and employers.
The pressures of the hustle culture make it difficult for everyone to relax.
There’s no room for failure in hustle culture, and this naturally leads to toxic positivity, the need to always keep a positive mindset and suppress negative emotions. However, expressing negative feelings is vital for mental health. Whether it’s bad traffic on the commute, weak coffee, or a frustrating colleague, taking time out to process these frustrations is essential to overcoming toxic positivity.
In addition to mental health issues, the hustle culture can also have serious implications on our physical health if taken too far. Too much work, a lack of sleep, and increased stress levels take their toll on the body. From high blood pressure and fatigue to chest pains and headaches, the pressure to be successful can be very bad for our health.
When you prioritize your job and career over everything else, you create an unhealthy imbalance between work and personal life. Hustle culture leaves little room for socializing, relationships, exercise, and other self-care activities, the things that are essential for your overall well-being. So, it’s important to regain that perfect work/life balance.
Encouraging people to suppress their feelings, work longer hours, and avoid taking time off can only lead to one thing: apathy. Burnout, stress, and anxiety cause people to lose interest in their work. When you stop caring about your job, productivity, efficiency, and performance are all impacted.
Escape the Hustle Culture
Now you understand the toxic nature of the hustle culture, it’s time to escape it. Doing so requires a willingness to change both your mindset and behavior, and prioritize your well-being over work — a daunting prospect at first. However, incorporate these tips into your everyday life and leave the hustle behind.
Setting boundaries is the first step. Plan your day in advance and set limits on the amount of time you spend working outside of normal business hours. It may not be popular with the boss or co-workers, but protecting your personal time will help you become more productive and a better employee in the long run.
It’s also important to communicate your boundaries and expectations to those around you. Let everyone know when you’re available and contactable for work-related activities, tasks, and conversations.
Take Regular Breaks
The importance of taking breaks in this hustle-culture world shouldn’t be underestimated. Regular breaks give your brain and body time to relax and refocus, letting you approach the next work session with renewed vigor.
Place breaks into your daily schedule — and stick to the plan. Even short microbreaks are beneficial. Give yourself the chance to step away from your desk and do something completely different, such as water the plants, go for a brisk walk, have a chat with a colleague, or meditate for ten minutes.
These small diversions throughout the day will help reduce stress, improve job satisfaction, and help boost productivity.
When your to-do list seems like it’s never-ending and you can’t see how you’re ever going to accomplish everything before the end of the working day, it’s time to ask whether every task is really necessary.
The Pareto Principle tells us that 80% of our output is the result of 20% of our efforts. In other words, 20% of what you do will have the biggest impact on what you produce.
By identifying the tasks that will produce 80% of your day’s results, you can begin to prioritize those and put other, less important tasks on hold for a while.
Put Yourself First
To truly escape the hustle culture, you have to put yourself first. Self-care has to come before all other obligations and commitments. If you don’t take care of your body and mind, chances are you’ll end up with burnout and emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion.
Eating healthily and regular exercise are just a part of self-care. Each day should include at least one activity where you dedicate your time solely to looking after yourself. Whether you choose to read, crochet, spend time with family, or practice yoga, this once-a-day pastime should be something you enjoy and feel happy doing.
The hustle culture revolves around a particular version of success, typically involving achieving materialistic things, such as money, a bigger house, a flashy car, etc. And, while it may be some people's ultimate goal, it doesn’t have to be yours.
To rid yourself of this drive to achieve the American Dream, it’s time to create your own version of success. Think about what’s important. Do you want to work for 50 or 60 hours per week? Or, would you rather spend those overtime hours making memories with your family? A better work/life balance and a happier, more relaxed lifestyle could become your new definition of success.
Ask For Help
If you struggle to escape the hustle culture, ask for help. Too much work to fit into your regular working day could indicate you have too much on your plate. Delegate some of your workload or speak to your boss about reassigning some tasks to other people. Is there an app or software that can help automate some of the more menial jobs? There are ways to ease the pressure and avoid becoming a workaholic.
Break Free From the Hustle Culture
Hustle culture has become a way of life for many of us. The need to work as hard as possible to make it big while sacrificing everything else in life is a toxic concept that’s unsustainable and has a negative impact in the end.
Your life shouldn’t be solely about working long hours and driving yourself into the ground to achieve your goals. It’s important to find a balance, where you can work productively, achieve what you need to, while still leaving plenty of time to enjoy life.