All this “living your perfect life” sales pitching is part of so-called hustle culture – our society’s standard that you can only succeed by making sure you’re running at 100%. From when you wake up, to when you go to bed, you’re “on” 24/7.
Hustle, hustle, hustle, on, on, on, do it all, do it all…it’s EXHAUSTING
First there’s the memes like “Wake-up. Kick arse. Repeat” and “Hustle until the haters ask if you’re hiring” that intend to motivate but seem to irritate. Then there’s the instagram stories of speakers/writers/experts/entrepreneurs aka slashies who are networking here and hashtagging (#grit #werk #slay) everywhere. The mums who exercise at 5am, work on their side hustle for an hour and whip-up enviable school lunchboxes all before heading off to their fully-paid job…and have a YouTube channel so we all know about it.
And what about the My Day On A Plate columns and the perfect eating plans of people who activate their almonds. Not to mention the ‘How I Get It All Done’ interviews that make you realise there’s absolutely no way you’ll get even half of it done. And even the hero of hard work, Beyonce, is in on it, singing in her feminist anthem Formation “I dream it, I own it, I grind-til-I-own-it”.
All this “living your perfect life” sales pitching is part of so-called hustle culture – our society’s standard that you can only succeed by making sure you’re running at 100%. From when you wake up, to when you go to bed, you’re “on” 24/7. Yep, always available and always reading about how other people are working and hustling more than you. You know the type – actually, you’re probably one of them if you’ve clicked on this story (I have been, I am!) – obsessed with striving, productivity and perfection particularly on the work front. It’s a vicious cycle that ultimately leads to, yep, burnout.
Ugh. Everyday I am not hustlin’
The idea of hustle culture is not new. Since women entered the workforce, we have internalised the mindset that to get ahead we must work harder, longer hours and always be available to our boss, team and nowadays some random commenting on our social post. This mentality has hit millennials and Xennials (that’s the microgeneration in the middle of Gen Xers and Millennials – yes me) the hardest because our jobs have involved technology. We hold the idea that our devices need to be within reach at all times and workaholism is a must-do lifestyle. In fact, according to a 2017 report Digital Australia: State Of The Nation by market research firm EY Sweeney, one in three Australians say they are addicted to their phones. You, too?
Career management expert, Sally-Anne Blanshard says it’s all down to the evolution of the workforce. “Technology has changed our expectations surrounding communication so we’re always “wired” for work,” she says. “Companies offer laptops, phones, and this by very nature means that the expectation is to be on all the time. But does your energy match this?”
It’s a terrible cycle
Thanks to social media, hustle culture has seeped into other areas of our life. With today’s curated social feeds we can broadcast the best versions of life outside the workplace, too. Whether it’s fitness, food, social functions, health, motherhood or holidays, this comparison environment drives our desire for competition. The other downside: it expose our vulnerabilities and perpetuates our insecurities. We participate in it to show our worth. We lap it up, to feed our worth. No wonder it can make us feel pretty shit. And burnout.
This is how you can handle it (without moving to the country)
So, how do you handle it all without moving to Kiwirrkurra (btw: this is the remotest town in Australia)? Firstly, define what success means to you and only you (not your Instagram followers). Remember all this hustle porn you’re lapping up is not actually showing the results or end game. Or, if it does you’re not seeing the bits – stress, tears and burnout – in between. Set realistic goals and clear expectations of yourself. Create your own boundaries around your technology and social media use.
“Be vocal about your boundaries,” adds Blanshard. “You need to have down time to recharge otherwise there will be a tipping point. It is healthier to show you have boundaries e.g. i do not have my work emails on my phone. I choose to log in and be accessible.”
Keep this in mind: hustling and working hard on something you’re passionate about is actually important. As Jay Lauf, the CEO of business site Quartz said it’s about finding the balance between hustling and reviving, “You should hustle because you enjoy what you do, have personal pride and see a chance for progressing your career in it. But you should also be allowed to have time and energy to explore your non-work passions (exercise, reading, music, whatever it is) with equal hustle.”
Now, how do we create a meme out of that?
Felicity Harley is Editor-at-Large for WHIMN and has kindly given us permission to republish this story.