How To Avoid Hustle Culture

How To Avoid Hustle Culture

How hard are you hustling in your business? I feel pretty confident in saying that if the grind never stops and you’re burning the candle at both ends, you are doing way too much.

Putting work above everything else and giving your business 60+ hours a week isn’t smart, it’s destructive.

Hustle culture has become a badge of honour for entrepreneurs and startups. As well as the idea that hustling is the only way to make a business work (it’s not) there is some notion out there that overworking is the only way to show you are committed to what you are doing and to earn some respect (maybe some sympathy), well, you won’t be getting it from me.

There is no way you have the ability, capacity or structure for a successful long-term business if starting out takes every ounce of your energy – where are you possibly going to go from there when things actually get busy and demand increases?

To get your business started you are probably doing the work of more than one person at this point, hiring staff just now isn’t an option, but there should be less to do, less demand and less complication when you’re this small.

The hustle isn’t about working on necessary things, it’s about making everything necessary, all the time. If you had more hours in the day, you’d just find more stuff in your business to do. It’s got to be the other way around, you need to figure out how to start doing less.

What Is The Meaning Of Hustle Culture?

Hustle culture is a mentality that there’s always more to do. In order to prove your worth or achieve your goals you need to put in more hours, get more money, sell more products and buy a Porsche.

The question really is: Is your complete and relentless devotion to work and making money actually worth it?

Hard work is necessary, especially in a start-up business. You will be wearing a lot of hats and making mistakes, which means there will be times when you’ll need to go back to the drawing board and start over, but hard work is different to overworking yourself to the point where you have nothing left. To go the distance you need goals based on personal satisfaction.

Here are some of the things that typically motivate people to put in hard work and love their business – and it’s usually not money, but it can be what money can give you:

  • Supporting loved ones
  • Having more freedom to do what you want
  • Choosing your own hours
  • Going on holiday on a whim
  • Choosing your own clients/customers
  • Making a difference in people’s lives
  • Expanding a hobby so it becomes your everyday life

If all you are doing is working on your business, you don’t get to enjoy ANY of that good stuff. You don’t get to see your loved ones or hang out with friends, you don’t get to spend time with customers talking about what matters to them. It’s just work, all the time.

It is important to know your worth and to set boundaries, both in terms of your work hours and your personal life. When you know your worth, you are less likely to be taken advantage of by others and you are more likely to achieve your goals in a sustainable way.

What was the reason you started your own business? These are your personal goals – you need to make sure you are seeing returns on these. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Does Hustle Culture Work?

The hard part of debunking hustle culture is that you can see results… initially. When you are doing more work than you need to right from the start, how do you increase the pace when your business picks up?

If things go well and you are in high demand, you’ll need to put in more hours…but you are already doing 60-70 hour weeks! You get to a point where you are working 17 hours a day and know there is still more expected of you. You can’t do it. It’s not because you don’t have the guts for it, it’s because you don’t have the right systems in place.

Running a business is pretty straightforward. Once you have things in motion, it should just be a matter of slowly building it up and reinforcing, improving and evolving your systems as you delegate your workload to scale your business.

I’m not saying that as some business coach reading it out of a book, I’ve been in business, I’ve done the hard yards myself and hit that magical seven-figure income, so I can tell you from experience: There is no point making more work for yourself, overloading your to-do list and putting in crazy hours. That’s not going to get you long-term results.

Go simple. Set up a plan based on your goals and do what needs doing to get those goals met. 

If you start a marathon at sprint capacity, exactly how far do you think you are going to get before you have to stop? Okay so you might have passed a few people as you charged by, but you have another 41.5 kilometres of the race to go, and you’re completely burned out.

Sure, you can take a breather, have a cup of water and go again, but if your strategy hasn’t changed, then in another kilometre you are right back where you started. It’s not long before that finish line seems impossible. You get frustrated, tired, overwhelmed and you quit. Getting to the finish line won’t seem as important as resting and recovering.

This is what happens to the hustle culture mindset. You might start out of the gate in a speedy fashion, but a few bumps in the business road (which are inevitable) is enough to put you off.  At some point down the line, success feels impossible, you don’t care anymore and you sell the business or close it down.

To stay in the race and keep loving what you are doing, you need to start thinking of your business as a marathon and set up a manageable and straightforward strategy and pace from the start.

What Makes Hustle Culture Toxic?

Aside from the fact that it is exhausting, hustle culture leads to burnout – which is not another term for exhaustion – burnout is a recognised medical syndrome resulting from continued, unaddressed, exposure to stress.

Burnout looks like this (see if you think it’s good for business):

  • Pessimistic outlook
  • Lack of motivation and energy
  • Decline in competence
  • Decreased efficiency
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Higher susceptibility to mental health conditions
  • Psychological or behavioural changes
  • Depression

The list goes on…

If you do have employees working with you, then working them under your hustle culture routine will set them against each other, encourage unhealthy competition and fail to provide a culture of acceptance and collaboration (that includes their relationship with you). When your personal systems are simple, straightforward and well communicated as a leader, theirs will be also and you’ll see more growth, harmony in the workplace, personal job satisfaction and workplace productivity.

It doesn’t make sense to work impossible schedules now to have more freedom later in life. You might be so mentally exhausted by the time you get there that you can’t enjoy it.

Live the life you want now. Put in the work to simplify your business, get your priorities straight and have set times when it’s “tools down” and you can get out, take a breath, recharge and come back fresh.

You need to set up a work-life balance that is rewarding and looks after your physical, mental and spiritual health. If you are not rewarding yourself with things you love doing, you have no reason to keep working and no motivation to push through the rough patches of business to come.

What Steps Can You Take to Avoid Hustle Culture?

Getting out of hustle culture can be a challenge, especially when you get into the cycle of trying to beat out your depression by working even harder. To reset your mindset and start setting up healthy habits, go back to the very beginning of WHY you started your business.

Here are the steps to get you to a simple, smarter business strategy:

  1. Go back to your original goals – what do you need to be doing to reach them? These goals should be the key factors in deciding what your business priorities are and where to focus your time.
  2. Visualise a smaller goal completed in the near future i.e. one year’s time – Backtrack month-by-month to have accurate and measurable steps to reach that outcome. Do this activity with your team as well so they know what’s expected of them and what they are working towards.
  3. Schedule your day in a way that makes sense – Block work items together, only work on one task at a time and delegate out anything that’s not a priority. Look to achieve efficiency not busyness.
  4. Write up your current work systems – writing everything you do down will show you the flaws, double handling and illogical moves (they’ll be there for sure if your systems have been left to run wild). From there you can set up new, streamlined systems that are based on your goals and have a target result.
  5. Get professional advice and support – A business coach can give you the lay of the land specific to your business and set you on a simple, logical and profitable track to success. You can also reach out to trusted business communities to discuss ideas and get new perspectives from like-minded business owners.

The result you are looking for at the end of the day is to have set business hours and more freedom – but you’ll feel just as productive as when you were working the grind, if not more so.

Your business – and your passion for it – will quickly become toxic if every single task registers as a high priority. You can’t have ten, twenty or fifty high priorities. Start with one or two and do those well, everything else can wait or be contracted out.

To help see where you are overworking and how to pinpoint your business priorities join our Facebook group The Business Evolution and get a conversation started on how simple really is better.