I recently read an article criticizing the idea of hustle culture. Basically, hustle promotes the message that we must achieve.
Hustling has a particular American quality to it. The idea that you can make something work without relying on anyone else. The idea that success is something you need to strive for, that achievement is inherently valuable, is fundamental to the American hustle.
I think this is one reason we have such a high level of burn out in the United States. Long-term hustle is quite difficult.
This American hustle dream has limitations for leading a mindful life. The focus on success at the expense of self-actualization is dangerous. The romantic notion of hustle leaves very little room for real growth.
That is because the romanticized notion of work puts pressure on us to do, rather than be. You end up on the endless hamster wheel of seeking accomplishment. We become like Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the mountain.
We just keep hustling.
I think writers now feel a particular pressure to hustle.
We have to make our own success happen. You can’t just enjoy the process of writing, you have to market it. You have to move on to the next project as soon as you can; you don’t want to lose momentum. You need to stay in the forefront of your audience’s consciousness.
In this narrative, writing doesn’t just take slow and steady hard work. It also takes the gumption to make things happen now.
And you can’t rely on anyone else to make it happen.
Maybe hustle is inherent in “making it” as a writer. Certainly that’s the common refrain in the writing community. There’s even the push for side hustles. Even one hustle isn’t enough.
But maybe it’s a hustle trap.
In my latest article, I discuss the phenomenon of hustle. I argue that it is detrimental to our mental health and our success. It is a trap. I also suggest how we can escape this hustle trap.
How much do we really need to hustle? Or how much are we programmed to in our culture? Personally, reflecting on these questions has helped me reorient myself in terms of how I work.
As a stay-at-home mom who writes on the side, my main focus is on raising my daughter. That’s definitely not a hustle. I can’t devote time or energy needed to do a side hustle.
I’m incredibly lucky to be in this position financially. And lots of moms find staying home to not be fulfilling when they have the means to do so. But, in choosing this lifestyle, hustle doesn’t work for me. It’s not good for me—or my family.
I’ve found the pressure to hustle, especially as a writer, though is pretty intense. I have to be conscious not to fall into the hustle trap. It’s an ongoing challenge.
What about you?
Do you feel pressure to hustle? How do you cope with this pressure? Let me know in a comment below.
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