Many of us have been working from home for the best part of a year, whilst the environment can be more comforting, hustle culture is a dangerous side effect. Working in an office you probably had a routine which included finishing the workday around the same time. Depending on your industry, it’s unlikely that you would be frequently sitting in an empty office trying to get through your to do list at 10pm.
Working from home has seen a rise of self-made entrepreneurs each providing wisdom on how they became a success. No pain, no gain. We sleep when we’re dead. hustle culture can be truly toxic. If you feel like you’re constantly working longer hours and feel pressure in hitting new and more inaccessible targets, it might be time to step back. When you realise that you’re prioritising work over your personal life it means you’ve fallen foul of hustle culture: the institutional belief that you should prioritise work over everything else. Hustle culture is toxic, and long-term exposure can be damaging to our physical- and mental health.
To help your spot the signs, the experts at Support Room have examined the phenomenon of hustle culture. It’s never too late to make some positive changes.
What is hustle culture?
Hustle culture is nothing new, and it has been damaging lives for many years. It started in the decadent 1980s, where the general population was encouraged to work hard and expect high returns. “Greed is good” became a common mantra.
Hustle culture is the collective urge to work excessively; to be better than everyone else and work longer and harder to be at the top of our game. It creates an environment of ruthless competition, encouraging us to clamber over each other to get to the top. Hustle culture thrives on peer-pressure and absolute compliance to organisational priority. We judge ourselves by the standards of our peers, and we often behave ruthlessly to remain competitive.
Why is this bad?
This toxic culture makes it impossible to win because the goalposts are continually moving. Whatever we do, however we prioritise our work over our personal lives – it’s never enough. We’re made to feel that if we aren’t playing the hustle game, we’re undeserving of success, or even worse: that we’re inadequate.
What are the side-effects of overwork?
Working hard is different from overworking, and it’s crucial that we recognise the difference. Working hard is good for our self-esteem; it’s good for our sense of worth and our position in society. But overwork eventually affects all aspects of our lives, with adverse outcomes for our mental and physical health. We suffer socially, emotionally, and spiritually. Work occupies your every waking hour and your “to-do” list entirely dictates your time.
Eventually, this state of constant tension renders you incapable of making simple decisions. You become irritable when things don’t go according to plan, but you dare not relax. Overworking becomes normal: your peers work long hours, so the same is expected from you. Working towards your goals is a good thing, of course, but where do you draw the line?
How do I know if I’m victim to hustle culture?
To examine if you are victim to hustle culture, ask yourself:
Has work become more important than your personal life?
Are you achieving your goals?
Are you living for work? Or working to live?
Are you happy?
You might find yourself operating on autopilot; automatically doing things to please others at work, but you’re likely to be neglecting the needs of your social circle. When work dictates our lives, we miss out on the moments that really matter: the time with friends and family; those are the memories that we’ll look back on and cherish.
Are there any techniques I can try?
If you feel like you’re living to work (rather than working to live), take a moment: Stop and reflect. Think about the things in life that DO make you happy. Centre yourself with “C” words, stop thinking: “I should”, should is a guilt word. Instead of saying “I should” or “I must”, try telling yourself “I did it to the best of my abilities”. Centre yourself with “C” words: calm, clarity, confidence, curiosity, compassion, creativity, connectedness, and courage.
How do I stop falling for hustle culture?
If you’ve found yourself trapped by hustle culture, it’s time to consider what you really want. Focus on your health and the things in life that satisfy. Make some decisions and reset your priorities and goals.
In the words of Kurt Vonnegut: ‘Enjoy the little things in life; for one day you’ll look back and realise they were the big things.’ Make your priority your mental health. Of course, this is often easier said than done and perhaps you need to address the roots of your stress. Maybe it could be helpful to speak to someone who can help you unpick the web of decisions to help you move forward.