The Problem With Hustle Culture

Workin’ Girl

"I'll sleep when I'm dead."


It's a sobering statement when you see it in black and white.

We're always booked, traveling, burning the midnight oil, and rising with the sun. Yet, hustling ourselves into oblivion doesn't seem to make us any happier. In fact, quite the opposite rings true.

With reports of people all over the world literally dropping dead due to exhaustion, it's safe to say we've been programmed to scoff at the gift of life. We're dogging the one thing we swear we're trying to improve.

Hustle culture is killing us - and we're letting it. For likes.

Photo: CreateHERStock

What's Your Life Worth To You?

Hustle culture is attractive on its surface. It sure charmed me. A few years ago, I was always on a plane or train. I was always posting a photo to prove how busy I'd become. I was always adding my two cents to public conversation about topics I'd been working directly within. I was making great money. I wasn't sleeping. My boss had access to me around the clock. I'd skipped a family member's funeral to work. Surely, everyone could see I was hustle goals - doing whatever it took to show commitment. I'd mastered it.

I burned out after a year and a half.

Clinging to hustle culture for all we're worth is cool until it's not. And I wonder if it's illusory perception of completeness is all we believe we're worth.

Studies show that increased salaries past a certain threshold typically do not increase happiness. So what, exactly, are we hustling toward? If securing the bag and a flawless public perception are our main goals - we are dangerously neglecting to enrich our lives the way we think we are.


Look, I don't want to be broke. I'd venture to guess that no one does. It doesn't feel good and it isn't conducive to good health. So, doing the work to increase wealth is a worthy goal. No qualms or questions about it.

The push, however, of an ever-updating digitally social world to prove how hard we're hustling is where we begin to lose our grip on reality and our humanity. Hustle culture curtails the positive impact it could have by shifting focus toward a mad-grab for popularity and money and away from the balance needed to sustain healthy and whole lives.

We aren't superhuman but we want to look and live like we are.

Photo: CreateHERStock

We admire people who are always moving at the speed of light and it never occurs to us that perhaps they're destined to burn out unless something changes - quickly.

We toss all of our mental energy, physical energy, skills, relationships, and hopes into a social blender, topped off by anxiety and fear to hustle ourselves into the lives we want.

The only problem is, without proper balance, we'll never reach our goals.

Hustle Culture Moves The Goalpost

When we overwork to prove ourselves and fit into culture, we erase our finish lines. Without still moments of reflection, appreciation, and celebration, we're just mindless minions, enslaved to the chase of some pot of gold that will always be just off in the distance.

Pumping the brakes to celebrate our path and process is crucial to wholeness. Yes, let's be successful but let's do it healthily. Let's respect and honor every achievement. Let's live in gratitude.

It takes discipline to eat the meat of culture and throw away its bones. It takes courage to let go of a facade, recalibrate and live life on your own terms.

So How Do We Recalibrate?

1. Respect what you were placed here for.

When you stand still and honor your truest desires, what do you really want? When that becomes clear, it makes the path toward your unique version of success clearer.

If it's true that hamster-wheeling our lives to stack money, with little forethought, planning, purpose, or balance mangles our creative, emotional, and physical health - then the opposite is true - taking the time to be mindful, counting up the cost, moving according to a personal plan/goal builds our lives to be their most impactful.

Photo: CreateHERStock

2. Drop out of the rat race.

Try a week of not running to social media to share every acknowledgement or met goal. Try spending time with yourself and your closest friends and family in the beauty of those moments of achievement. The world will clap for the length of time it takes to click 'like'. You need to define your pride in yourself and accomplishments for the rest of your life.

3. Commit to balance.

What do you need in order to feel (physically, mentally, spiritually, creatively) well and whole? Take inventory of what is causing tension in your life and make a plan to cut those strings. For some that might mean a career pivot. For others, it might mean requesting a change of work schedule. For someone else, it might mean taking up a form of exercise as an outlet. Take the time you need to figure out what you need. Not what looks good or what sounds like you've got it all figured out.

Answer the question: What do I need to live well?

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