Why Hustle Culture is Toxic
In the wake of new year’s resolutions and just the culture we live in in general, it can feel like if we’re not hustling constantly, than we’re not progressing. I’ve fallen victim to this many a time. What my healing journey has taught me is that going slow isn’t necessarily bad. I wanted my healing process to be fast. I wanted my path to success to be yesterday. But it doesn’t work that way. It takes time, and everyone goes at a different pace. Here’s why hustle culture is so toxic.
Why Hustle Culture is Toxic
First, let’s define what hustle culture is:
In my opinion, I believe hustle culture originates in the capitalist USA, where the self-made, rags to riches story is the backbone. It is the belief that anything you can think up, with a little grit and grind, you can make into a successful business. That belief has turned into, especially over the past 5-10 years, a full-blown industry, inspiring all of the internet to create their own business, their “side-hustle.” I have no problem with this industry, and actually am a part of it. (I’ve got many a side-hustle). My problem is the culture that has been created in result. It can bring shame if you’re not constantly hustling, not trying to build, not getting the latest system or hack.
This can bring on guilt and feel like you’re always falling behind.
Here’s a gentle reminder that you don’t have to have a side-hustle, you don’t have to have the latest course, and you don’t need to do it a certain way, and you are, in no way, falling behind.
I’m going to go into some myths of what hustle culture tells us, and debunking its toxicity.
What they say: If you’re not working, you’re not getting further.
Just like we need rest days from working out, we need time away from our work too. Burn out isn’t going to help us achieve our goals. Taking time away gives us a reprieve and helps us get lit up about our projects again.
When I wanted to just be successful and heal myself and basically become perfect, my therapist so kindly said that there is a balance between accepting where you are and moving forward. We need both to actually heal and get to where we need to be.
The truth: Rest and reflection helps you move in conjunction with working.
What they say: Quit your job! Work for yourself!
Take it from someone who has done the whole dramatic, quitting-their-job-for-a-better-life thing: Because I didn’t have a savings or a plan of what was going to come next (especially where my next paycheck was going to come from), I failed. I didn’t have money and I didn’t have anything already established to rely on. It was the perfect recipe for failure.
Quit the job when there’s money saved and when you’ve got something reliable already set up, whether that’s freelance or building your business.
The truth: Quitting your job doesn’t suddenly give you all of the tools and finances you need to build what you want.
Related: Why I’m Thinking Small This Year With Micro-Goals
What they say: Build the business!
Yes, you can build a business! But just like the beginning of romantic relationships when everything is exciting and it feels like nothing can go wrong, there is a lot more work to put in than just the creative idea you have. There’s usually a lot of money, time, things you don’t want to do, and things you have no clue how to do ahead of you.
When I started my online clothing store when I was 19, I was elated! This was going to be a booming business! Little did I know that I would need thousands and thousands of dollars to keep a constant flow of inventory, that sending out packages every day after 6 months was the biggest drag for me, and that keeping all of the working parts operating would be nonstop, 80 hours of work per week.
So I say, go off of the excitement and get to creating your passion and making it into a business, but make sure you know and are prepared for the reality of it.
The truth: While working for yourself is exciting, there’s a lot more behind the scenes than appears.
What they say: You need this system/course to get exactly what you want!
I believe that we definitely need other people or sources to find our way, but there’s a lot of BS courses and ebooks out there that cost way too much and give too little. So before investing in a program, make sure to read reviews outside of their sales page. Make sure they have tangible results they share. Shop around for other courses first.
And, for free, you can also find a lot of your answers by watching Youtube videos or reading articles.
The truth: You can still find success without the course, and sometimes you can find all the answers you need in articles or free content on the internet.
So why is hustle culture toxic?
Because in the pursuit of getting to where we are going, we lose sight of where we are. Constant hustling isn’t healthy. It isn’t present.
We need the balance of moving and being still. The constant nagging that we are not doing enough isn’t doing us any good. So please don’t feel guilty for going slow. Because at least you’re going. And slow and steady wins the race.3