Yesterday I posted about hustle culture and the dangers of falling into the hustle mentality on my Instagram and the response I received from people made me realize that this is a problem that affects all of us, even if we don’t know it.
As women in sports, especially those trying to make a name for themselves in their careers, it’s important to understand the dangers of hustle culture and know when it’s consuming your life—your dreams are not the problem, the way hustle culture tells us to reach them is.
So, let’s talk about the dangers of hustling and how you can avoid hustle culture and burnout while still working hard to reach your dreams.
WHAT IS HUSTLE CULTURE?
You’ve seen the posts: “Good things come to those who hustle”, “My dream is worth more than my sleep”, and the one that got me all riled up yesterday, “Hustle like the woman who doesn’t need help from anyone”.
Hustle culture is the idea that in order to get what you want and reach your dreams, you have to “grind” 24/7. It’s often framed in a way that makes people feel guilty for self care practices like taking breaks, not working day and night, doing things for fun, and taking “you” time—all things that are essential for productivity and longevity to be able to work in a way that helps you reach your goals.
The hustle mentality gives us the idea that if you’re not busy all the time, you’re not working hard enough. If you’re not outworking everyone around you, you’re not going to reach your full potential and meet your goals. If you take a break, you’re lazy because rest is for weak people.
To put it bluntly, hustle culture is bullshit.
The only person you should be competing with is who you were yesterday and if you aren’t taking care of yourself, you’re going to burn out and you’re not going to be able to compete with anyone, let alone with yourself.
WHY WE NEED TO STOP GLORIFYING HUSTLE CULTURE
I am no stranger to hustle culture and how falling into the hustle mentality can negatively impact a person.
When I was working one of my first jobs in sports, I had a boss tell me “When I was your age, I was working 80 hours per week. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to do the same. Time is your most valuable asset.”
And you know what? They were right. Time is my most valuable asset, but I learned that how you spend that time is most valuable. Plot twist: It isn’t working every hour of every day. Often, that’s a dangerous expectation, especially for people trying to make their mark in their careers, put on people by “leaders” who want their employees to give up everything in the name of proving their worth in the workplace (often without the pay to reflect this work).
I quickly realized that the hustle life wasn’t for me. I was burnt out, I was struggling to focus, I was feeling guilty for doing the things I enjoyed because it wasn’t work, and I had constant anxiety from feeling like I wasn’t doing enough.
True leaders will value your health (both physical and mental) and ensure that you are taking care of yourself because without those things, you can’t give to anything or anyone. The ol’ “You can’t pour into others if your cup is empty” is corny, but oh so true.
Let me be very clear here: You will be more successful, more productive, and a better employee, business owner, partner, parent, friend, and overall person if you take care of YOU first. You can’t give to others if you don’t first give to yourself. Working hard is important, but what’s more important is not falling into the false narrative that if you’re not working hard ALL of the time, you’re failing.
BONUS! Taking care of you so you have more to give to your dreams will also help you stay in love with those dreams, stay driven to reach your goals, and keep your passion burning in your soul. When we get to a point of burnout, we often start resenting the very things that caused the burnout—usually our work. Your passion and your dreams aren’t the problem (usually), your inability to live a life beyond them is.
HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITHOUT HUSTLE CULTURE
“But Kyla, I need to hustle to be successful!” Girl, stop. That’s bs and you know it (or you do now, at least).
Here’s how you can be successful without hustling so hard you burn out:
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
You’re not going to reach your dreams or even get close if you don’t take care of yourself. Work hard, yes, but understand that if you don’t also work hard at taking care of yourself, you won’t get as far as you hope.
When you feel that hint of burnout, that inability to focus, the anxiety, and the little voice that says “Can I really keep this up?” take a damn break. It can be as simple as going for a walk, reading a book or maybe you need a few days off or a solid vacation. You are not weak for giving yourself breaks; breaks make you stronger and often lead to new ideas and extra motivation. Don’t believe me? Give it a try and see for yourself.
ASK FOR HELP
NOBODY gets where they are alone. And if they tell you they did, they’re lying or probably didn’t get very far.
You cannot do everything and be everyone on your own. It’s impossible and it’s harmful to even try.
Hustle culture makes us feel like we have to do it on our own or our success isn’t truly ours, but asking for help, and accepting it, doesn’t make you a fraud or a lesser person, it makes you smart, resourceful, and it’s what everyone does.
No one is self made: We all have people who guide us, help us, cheer us on, and allow us to follow our dreams. No matter how big or small the help, no one gets anywhere on their own.
FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU
What works for one person, won’t work for the next. It’s important to take all advice with a grain of salt (yes, even my advice). People’s advice is often based on their own experience and no two people have the same experiences in life, so going all in on the way someone else has done it probably won’t work for you.
Not all advice is good advice for you.
Listening to podcasts, reading books, and taking advice from people who have “made it” is great, but don’t let yourself believe that it’s the only way. It’s not. Mix and match the advice, try it out and keep what works and don’t be afraid to carve your own path.
Do it YOUR way.
Try my advice out and see if it works for you. If it doesn’t, go ahead and hustle your butt off—I’m proud of you for finding what works for you. But don’t squash the warning signs of burnout in the name of believing that if you don’t hustle you’re not doing enough.
Instead of hustling: work hard, be humble, take breaks, and lean on others.
You’ll get farther and truly love what you’re doing more than the people who claim they’re humans who are wired to hustle 100% of the time. Those aren’t people, they’re robots and last I checked, we’re all human.
Go be a human, take a break (or many) and follow those dreams.