A few years ago I was into the “wake up and hustle” and “grind harder” mantras but that became exhausting. After a while, a light bulb went off and I realized that hustle culture was and is extremely toxic and not realistic or sustainable. Everything isn’t for everyone and hustle “go go go” just didn’t fit me and my personality. Yes, I work hard but I’m not into back-breaking hard work to the point where it becomes unenjoyable. I’m at a point where work/life balance is everything to me and hustle culture in its current form lacks boundaries. If I’m working so hard that I hate the work that I used to love, something is wrong. It took me losing an entire novel that I spent a year writing for me to reset and regroup and at first I was livid but now I know that it was a blessing in disguise.
Mostly everyone has their hustle. Mine just so happens to be my hobby (I freelance write and graphic design) and I know my limits and how many clients I can take on at once to leave enough room for it to still be fun. It’s not the pressure of having too many clients either because I love working under pressure. It’s that creativity can’t go where I need to go if I feel like a machine. If I ever start to feel like my side job is a means to an end and it’s not fun anymore, I’ll immediately pack it up and stop doing it. I don’t need to become a millionaire writing but it would be awesome if that happened. As long as I get paid what my craft is worth and I enjoy doing it, that’s what makes me truly at peace with how hard I’m working.
I’ve been making changes that give me and my business grace. I’ve been setting intentions instead of goals. Putting balance over grinding and waking up relaxing before hitting the ground running. If the first thing I’m worried about when I wake up is all the things on my intentions list then it’s overwhelming. It’s okay to take a pause before going after all the things that you want. My art only comes from creativity and my creativity comes from my ability to relax and let go. Sure, there are deadlines to keep but hustling isn’t healthy when it becomes part of your personality. If hustle culture is always pressing me to go harder and I’m already working pretty hard it’s defeating and unattainable. If always being on the hustle hamster wheel is your thing and you enjoy it by all means, have at it. I, however, don’t need the stress that hustle culture promotes. I like being in competition with yesterday’s work and doing better than I did before. If my only options are to hustle hard or go home, I’m one hundred percent drawing lines in the sand and going home.