It’s time to stop idolising hustle culture.
Words: Amber Badger
Illustration: Tarn Ellis
This year, I’m giving hustle culture the middle finger.
Hello 2021, you saucy devil. It feels like I’ve been waiting to see your face for a ruddy long time.
There’s something cathartic about a new year, isn’t there? Despite it – really – being no different to December, I always get this sense of a ‘fresh slate’ when I step into January. I see it as an opportunity to reassess the 12 months previous so that I can move forward with clearer, kinder intentions.
I say kinder because, pals, I am not about the hard and fast New Year’s resolutions.
Don’t get me wrong – I love goals. They keep me motivated and on track. And hell, they’re exciting! But, I remember the days when I used to write pages and pages of resolutions, pinpointing the many ways in which I felt I was failing. It was exhausting.
Now – as a business owner – I’m so very aware of that old temptation beckoning me over; the urge to push, push and push some more on a relentless battle to be the biggest, baddest version of myself.
You’re sold a dream of self employment: one where you work part-time hours and enjoy the rest of your life swanning off around the world.
Growth is important… But surely it needs to be sustainable?
We all know that nine times out of ten, New Year’s resolutions don’t stick. We’re expecting too much of ourselves, and piling on the pressure to the point that the goal simply feels like a burden.
I think this is a concept that kept landing on me throughout 2020 with my business.
I thought that everything had to have been done yesterday, and that I needed to pack as much as possible into every second of the day just to capture a glimmer of growth. If I didn’t, I was lazy.
This mindset is built into us. There are countless moments in my ‘pre-business life’ that have stuck with me, all polishing the turd that is the ‘hustle culture’ mentality. That weird, inhumane idea that if we aren’t working through blood, sweat and tears, then we aren’t achieving.
Two in particular stick with me: the first, when I was running the marketing for a charity campaign. The week of the campaign, I was told that it was expected that I would work many, many extra hours… Although, I was allowed to sleep, of course. As if the thumbs up on sleep was the kindest gesture in the world.
The second was during a very bad period of mental illness. I was signed off for a short period of time, on the pretence that when I returned to the office I would at least “pretend I was happy”. I mean… no words, right?
I was a cog in a machine. Nothing more, nothing less. And now, even away from the corporate jungle, that machine-like approach seems to be all around. 14 hour days… working weekends… never taking holiday… refusing to have a lunch break… it’s everywhere. I know I’ve fallen prey to it far too often.
We’re “ON IT”. We #HustleHarder. We *power through*.
I wish we would just breathe.
H2: Since when did burnout become sexy?
For many of us, a huge motivator for starting a business is so that, eventually, we can embrace a better work-life balance. We crave flexibility and control. Yet, somewhere along the way, we seem to lose that.
I’m not naive. I know that a certain level of “flippin’ Nora, this is intense” is necessary at times. I also know that some of the business owners that I personally deem oh-man-they-are-smashing-it types of successful are the ones with the biggest boundaries in place.
So, I’m going to take a leaf out of their book and I’m going to approach 2021 in a softer, more mindful way.
🌵 I’m going to stop trading time for money.
You’ve probably heard this one a lot. The thing that trading time for money in my services taught me was that not only did I constantly look at every spare hour as missed income, but I totally disregarded my value as a writer beyond time alone.
It meant I was forever flitting from project to project, never even giving myself a ten minute breather. I also failed to recognise my achievements, and the ways I was actually supporting my clients… Basically, it left me feeling a bit pants.
🌵 I’m going to dedicate time to positive reflection.
Because of that, I’m on a mission to make positive reflection a priority. I’ll be using my Creator Journal to keep that going.
Cards on the table guys – this is not a sneaky #AD or any kind of icky promo. The journal is genuinely the best of its kind I’ve seen, and I’m already nose deep into quarter 1. I’m excited to look back and see the small but mighty wins of the year.
🌵 I’m automating the shizz out of my business.
Automation is that ‘thing’ we know we want, but can feel like a bit of a maze (for me, anyway!). As a diehard creative, structure and systems make as much sense to me as pythagoras theorem.
That’s why I’m working with Steph from Innovate and Thrive Co to help me put all the automated tiiiingz in place so that I can free up more time and headspace. Buzzing with a capital B!
🌵 I’m working on my business boundaries.
As business owners, we have total control over our boundaries – we just need to figure them out and actually put them in place 🤯
I am not good at this. At all. I want to please people (and, if I’m totally honest, have them like me) and so I very quickly drop my boundaries. You know the type; the way in which people can contact you, responding to emails on weekends, doing aaaaalllll the extra work for free. I’m sure we’ve all been there.
The incredible Jo of Mad and Sad Club has formed one hell of a backbone for this learning process. I’ve been a part of her business club since late last year and she – and the other incredible members of the group – have been instrumental in helping me map out the boundaries I need in my business to enable a happier personal life. Total dreamboats, the lot of them.
H2: Hand on heart, I believe it is 100% possible to grow your business without reaching burnout.
Slow, steady, meaningful… Yeah, they’re going to be my words of 2021.
And when all else fails? I’m just going to adopt this mantra.
Namaste, huns ✌️