Why the “hustle” work mentality is BS

By Elizabeth Katona

If you don’t hustle, you’ll never make it.

Multi-millionaire entrepreneurs and corporate executives often preach that you won’t get anywhere unless you “hustle.” Whether this means you log 80 hours a week working while running on minimal sleep and loads of caffeine or spend your vacations fielding emails that could wait until you get back, having total devotion to work is glorified.

If you don’t reply to an email within an hour, if you aren’t accessible 24/7, and if you haven’t pledged 99.9% of your life to the job, you’re not taking your career seriously. And God forbid you leave the office right at 5 p.m. Clearly, that means you’re not fully committed to your work, you’re slacking off, and you’ll never be successful. 

Um, what?

Let me back up just a bit. Hello! My name is Elizabeth – I’m a writer and founder of NOVA Content. Ayana was incredibly kind to give me the opportunity to write a guest post for her blog, and since we are both entrepreneurs doing our own thing, I thought this would be a relevant topic to write about since it’s something that frequently arises among business owners and freelancers. But, it certainly reaches all corners of American work culture.

I began freelance writing a little over a year ago, and at the time it was in addition to a full-time job. As I started, I was lapping up every resource I could regarding side hustles, business, freelancing, and how to be successful at it. After seeing his book praised in multiple places, I finally picked up a copy of Crushing It! by Gary Vaynerchuk. While the book offers solid and sound advice on creating a successful business and brand, I’ve found that it promotes “hustle culture” and I had to put it down for a minute.

I am in no way saying that success doesn’t mean hard work. It does. You have to put yourself out there, find opportunities, prove yourself, and want it. But it doesn’t mean you have to run yourself into the ground to look good in front of your boss, put your foot on the next rung of the corporate ladder, or land a high-paying client. You can do these things while still taking time for yourself.

So, why is the hustle work mentality damaging? And why do I have such an issue with it? Please allow me to offer three reasons why. 

  1. No rest equals burnout, which equals quitting

If you’re finding yourself constantly working and taking no time for yourself, you are quickly going to burn out. Whether it’s taking on too many responsibilities at your job, or just busting it to get your business off the ground, burnout is dangerous because it makes us want to quit. 

I personally have experienced this before in jobs – I was overwhelmed and wanted to find something else to do because I couldn’t take it anymore. This usually meant I needed a vacation. While sometimes we are going to have a long to-do list that has to get done beyond our usual hours, perpetually working ourselves to the bone will lead to us quitting. And what’s the point of all that hustle if you’re going to quit?

Potential solution: Set aside hours in the day and days of the week that are purely for you. Make the time to do what you love and get your mind off of work. Self. Care.

  1. Hustling promotes attributing self-worth to a job

For a long time, I thought what most defined me was my job and the success I was having in my career. I don’t feel I’m alone here – people spend most of their days at a workplace, so it’s natural to feel like work is life. In this regard, I’ve had to really work to switch my mindset and priorities, because I was relying on my work to make me happy. 

I was forgetting that my happiness was my internal responsibility, and no promotion or raise was going to contribute to lasting joy. My relationships with family and friends, taking pleasure in the simple things, and learning to practice gratitude would. The phrase “nobody looks back on their life and wishes they spent more time at the office” is a good way to sum up my point here. 

Potential solution: Take time to re-evaluate your priorities and look at the big picture. This can help put things in perspective.

  1. It violates our boundaries

Part of the hustle culture can include working nonstop, answering emails even when we’re supposed to be taking time off, and overall feeling like we can’t turn off or unplug. Basically, it means allowing work to totally disregard our boundaries. When we fail to establish boundaries, it can cause so many problems in our lives – especially with our mental health. Boundaries are meant to keep us safe, and when they are violated, we can feel taken advantage of, resentful, and worthless.

Potential solution: Stick with your boundaries and learn to say “no” when you feel overwhelmed.

If your goal is ultimately to make millions of dollars and that is your definition of success, my points might mean little to you. But I believe most people just want to do what they love and make a decent living doing it. This is absolutely possible without jeopardizing your health, relationships, and happiness doing the hustle. So pursue your dreams, work hard, but don’t forget to take time to take care of yourself.

Leave a Comment