Currently, the ‘Hustle Life’ is hugely popular amongst various types of professionals, especially those who are self-employed. It seems as if wherever you look, there are examples of the glorification of ‘Hustling’. Friends or family members will proudly discuss how they are taking their business to the next level by denying themselves basic human needs because that is ‘just how serious they are’. This oftentimes leads to Burnout.
I myself have witnessed friends engaging in a strange martyr-like competition with one another saying, “Oh well this project is so huge, I haven’t slept in days!” or “My business is doing so well, we are CONSTANTLY booked!”. You could hop on Instagram or Facebook and find an example of someone promoting #Hustle within minutes. You might even use it yourself. I will admit that prior to knowing more about what this practice leads to, I too glamorized ‘Hustle’.
In its common usage, ‘hustling’ means sacrificing your human needs for the betterment of your business. For instance, staying up all night to complete a project, eating quick nutrition-less food in order to devote more time to work, and avoiding social events and exercise to focus on your work to do list. You are just too busy growing your business for anything else.
The hard truth is, This lifestyle is completely Unsustainable, Is Not Responsible, & is an Unhealthy Way to run your business.
Hustling will wreak havoc on your business, Not nurture it.
As an entrepreneur, my business’ success rests squarely on my shoulders. Being able to live up to that responsibility means that I need my brain and body to be functioning as healthy as possible. By glamorizing the choice to place basic human needs last instead of nurturing themselves, professionals are damaging their short and long term health, most importantly how their brain & hormones function. This chaos on the body and brain inevitably leads to poor quality work that will require extra time to fix, poor decision making, deprived relationships, depression & anxiety, and Burn Out.
As an entrepreneur, you are your business. If you want to nurture your business, you need to nurture yourself. By denying yourself basic human needs, you are Hustling Towards Burnout.
Christina Maslach, the researcher who developed The Maslach Burnout Inventory, the most widely used index of burnout defines the condition as “a prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on the job.” The Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) measures aspects of the burnout syndrome – emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment. Someone nearing/going through burnout may present the following signs:
Burnout was recently officially recognized as a legitimate medical syndrome that has real medical consequences by the World Health Organization. WHO believes that burnout is a major cause of stress-induced depression and suicide amongst professionals. A direct quote from the World Health Organization’s 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases states that “burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”. Burnout is No Joke. If you care about your and your loved one’s mental health, it is crucial to take this syndrome and unhealthy habits that lead to it seriously.
An important fact to remember is, No one is Immune to Burnout.
This “phenomenon is so widespread, the people affected by it are so numerous, and their personalities and backgrounds so various, that it does not make sense to identify ‘bad people’ as the cause for what is clearly an undesirable outcome” (Maslach). Even so, people will oftentimes attempt to blame their own personality traits as the reason they are experiencing burnout. They will think to themselves “something is wrong with me” or “why am I too weak to handle this workload?” when the fact is, the problem is not the person, it is the situation they have been placed in.
I feel that social media can aggravate the prevalence of this type of negative self-thought. It is so easy to hop on your Instagram or Facebook and see others seemingly ‘killing it’, without any issues. We all know deep down that this really isn’t the truth. Everyone in this world has ups and downs throughout life. It is essential that you are setting yourself up to successfully handle the fluctuations of life by practicing healthy personal and business habits, not overloading yourself to the point of experiencing burnout. When in a state of burnout, it is exceptionally more difficult to handle everyday life obstacles, let alone major ones.
“Just like a Teapot, I was on the fire, with the water boiling – working hard to handle problems and do good. But after several years, the water had boiled away, and yet I was still on the fire – a burned-out teapot in danger of cracking”
You reach burnout when you are demanding more of yourself than you have resources to give. Even after you manage to recover from an episode of burnout, unless you change your habits, you will return to this same difficult situation. Burnout syndrome can be cyclical for some. Practicing unsustainable habits mean you only have a matter of time before you burn out again. Preventing burnout means you NEED to change your core habits. Clearly, hustling is not a healthy way to manage your business. The greater the responsibility you have to perform at your best, the more resolute you must be in your standard for wellness. This type of business practice is guaranteed to lead to negative short and long term health, personal, business, and interpersonal consequences.
We do our best with what we know. I wish I had known more about burnout and its severe consequences long ago so that I may have been a helpful resource to friends who were going through this syndrome’s cycle. At the time though, I had no idea what their behavior was stemming from or how to support them. I thought maybe their sudden distant and unfriendly behavior was because of something I had done, but with the knowledge I have today, I now know that they were suffering from an aggressive burnout cycle.
Since beginning this research, I have had the opportunity to assist friends who began to feel symptoms of burnout. This time, I was able to use what I have learned to help them find resources and new habits in order to steer away from debilitating burnout.
I do not want to encourage you to go out and be everyone’s savior from burnout. However, I do want to explain how this knowledge may help you support someone in the future if you choose to do so.
Now that we know just how detrimental Hustling and Burnout can be, let me teach you what I have found in my research on how to practice healthier habits and how to prevent Burnout Syndrome. With the ‘Hustling Towards Burnout’ series, I want to educate my readers about how to practice business in a healthy way that will lead to your own personal growth as well as your business’ growth.
I’m writing this series because I feel passionate about our communities supporting and encouraging healthy business practices & meaningful self-care. A crucial step in creating change against negative outcomes is finding and applying solutions. Look forward to the next parts of My ‘Hustling Towards Burnout’ blog series, which will discuss detailed reasons why hustling and burnout are dangerous for your health and the productivity of your business, prevention & solutions for Burnout, as well as covering alternative healthy practices extensively.
I am looking forward to sharing all that I have learned with you!
Part one will be released in early July
(I will Link all Future Blog posts at the bottom of this post in this series as they are written & they will be featured on the site.)
Maslach, Christina, and Susan E. Jackson. “The Measurement of Experienced Burnout.” Journal of Organizational Behavior, vol. 2, no. 2, 1981, pp. 99–113., doi:10.1002/job.4030020205.
Maslach, Christina. Burnout: the Cost of Caring. Malor Books, 2015.
Schor, Juliet. The Overworked American: the Unexpected Decline of Leisure. Basic Books, 2000.
Stevenson, Shawn. Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to a Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success. Hay House, 2016.