Life’s too short: Stop hustling, start living

Gary Vaynerchuk does it. Neil Patel too. Sometimes – particularly in marketing and technology – it seems like everyone is doing it. And that the only way to be successful in life is for you to do it too.

Know what it is yet? That’s right folks – hustling.

Almost every day now, someone, somewhere, advocates the art of hustling. How much they hustled to get where they are today. How much you should hustle to get where you want to be tomorrow.

Hustling sticker on wall

If you read an article on Medium or Forbes, or watch a TED Talk on YouTube, you’ll hear all about it. You’ll hear it alongside words like courage and confidence. Self-belief and self-determination. Opportunity. Success.

Hustling, say the believers, is about working harder than everyone else, for longer than everyone else, to get further than everyone else.

In theory, that sounds OK. Sensible even. But what if you don’t want to work longer than everyone else? What if you don’t – God forbid – want to hustle?

Get to work

This blog post has been sitting in my drafts folder since the end of 2017. Ever since Nathan Hubbard, former CEO of Ticketmaster, put out the following tweet at the start of the festive period:

Screen Shot 2019-04-29 at 13.46.38

That’s right. Forget about family. Forget about love. Forget about the presents under the Christmas tree and the smiles on your children’s faces. Forget about it all.

The real gift of Christmas is opportunity. The opportunity to work.

Fuck. That.

Everyday (and night) we’re hustling

Hustling is generally associated with freelancers or entrepreneurs – people like me. And it’s generally advocated and promoted in the good ol’ US of A. The land of the free and the home of the brave.

But it’s not just freelancers and entrepreneurs that hustle. And it’s not just in the US they do it.

A recent study from HR and payroll company, ADP, found that two thirds of UK employees are overworking by an average of six hours per week.

Working long hours. Working through lunch. Working at night. Working at weekends.

For what? For who? And at what cost?

Having a work-life balance has become particularly important to me since the arrival of my two beautiful children.

I want to spend as much time as possible with my kids. Playing with them. Loving them. Teaching them.

My beautiful children

But trust me – I’m not here to preach. We’ve all been there. I certainly know I have.

When I first started out in marketing, I used to work long hours every day and night. Start early. Finish late.

Every. Single. Day.

I’d travel all over the country visiting clients. Then come home at night and do the work I had missed during the day.

It wasn’t productive. And it wasn’t healthy. But it’s just what you have to do, isn’t it?

If you wanna be successful, you gotta hustle. Right?

What if it isn’t? 

What would happen if you stopped working long hours? If you didn’t reply to that ‘urgent’ email late at night?

Would you become less productive? Stop winning clients? Stop being successful?

Of course you wouldn’t. So why do we do it?

We do it because we think we should. We see others working late and think we should too. We see others hustling and think we should too.

Punch today in the face

Listen. If you want to work long hours – without undue pressure from anyone else – that’s absolutely fine. You do you.

But it shouldn’t be the norm. And if one person does it, it shouldn’t put pressure on others to do it too.

Trust me, I’ve been there. It doesn’t stop. It just becomes expected of you. You work harder, faster and longer. For what?

We all have work to do

A lot of freelancers, entrepreneurs and business owners promote and encourage ridiculous working hours.

Take Jack Ma for example. The Alibaba co-founder recently defended his company’s controversial overtime culture, calling it a ‘huge blessing’ to work 9am to 9pm, six days a week.

Working 12 hours a day, six days a week isn’t a blessing. It’s a curse.

There’s a dangerous perception in business that working late = working hard. That to be successful, you have to work long hours. Burn the candle at both ends. Work, work, work.

Woman hustling on laptop at night

We all have a role to play to change that perception. Each and every one of us.

If you’re a business owner or freelancer, don’t be scared to take time off work. If you’re a manager, don’t expect your team to work long hours. And if you’re an employee, don’t feel pressured into working those long hours.

We have to work hard – of course we do. But we have to work smart too.

Working 12 hours a day isn’t smart. Staying in the office late every night isn’t smart. Not seeing your children grow up isn’t smart.

As the saying goes, you’ve got to work to live, not live to work. Spend time with your kids. Take your partner out for dinner. Go for a walk in the countryside.

This is time you’re never going to get back. It’s time to live your life. Before it’s too late.

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