The Hustle and the Burnout Culture: Why You’re Better Off Not Feeding Into It

If you’re a part of the generation that’s currently in college or has just graduated chances are high that you went through your elementary, middle school, and high school days striving to get the very best grades, participate, and be the best in sports, and pad your extracurriculars; filling your time until it was bursting and trying to do your very best. You wanted to make your parents proud and make sure you set yourself up for success. You were (and are still) a classic overachiever. You get good grades and tick all of the boxes because success means fulfillment, right?

And thus, with the millennial generation, the hustle (and burnout) culture was born.

Why you’re denying the hustle and burnout culture as we speak

You might be thinking right now, “No way, I’m just a hard worker, there’s nothing wrong with that,”. And you’re right, there is nothing wrong with being a hard worker, but hustle culture goes far beyond that.

Hustle culture is the idea that you must be always ‘on’, always working, anything you do should be working towards your ultimate career goal; whatever that may be. This is the only way you think you can be fulfilled.

You can’t just put up with your job, you can’t even just like your job; you must love it. You must devote your whole heart to it, be passionate, and be willing to do anything for it.

Working a 40-hour work week is slacking, and 60-80 hours is simply adequate, to really be thriving, you’re working closer to 100+ hours a week; sacrificing sleep, eating, and healthy habits in order to achieve your ultimate goal of outworking any and everyone so that you can be happy.

Only chances are, you’re not actually happy.

But weren’t we raised to think this way…

There, we said it. The millennial and Gen Z generations were raised to be overachievers, we were told we’d be happy if we just really loved what we did, that, if we loved what we did, we’d never actually be working, and that we’d be happy.

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But now, most of us are at the point where we’re entering internships and our first jobs out of college and we are not happy.

In fact, a lot of us are kind of miserable in our first jobs. More of us than you probably think, as oh so many of us hide our misery behind pretty Instagram photos and countless #grind instastories.

The reality is, most of the time, your first internship, job, and even the couple of jobs after those first ones might kind of suck.

The company you work for might not always align with your personal views, you’re working for the person you thought you’d be doing the job of, and a lot of your day-to-day work is well, kind of tedious.

While we’re not sitting here to trying to tell you not to work hard at these first jobs, we are sitting here and telling you not to make them your whole life and honor the journey.

Don’t sacrifice your life and happiness for a job paying you just above minimum wage that would replace you faster than you’d be cold in the ground if you were to be hit by a car.

The fact is, while you may think overworking will all be worth it in the end when you’re wildly successful, newsflash, it actually is mostly benefiting your boss.

For quite a few years now, wage growth, when compared to overall inflation, has remained fairly stagnant.

You can work hard, be successful and even be passionate about your work, without killing yourself to do so.

In fact, a great place to start is with an internship, or 2. These can be so helpful because they tend to be short-term and you can get great insight into a job you might want.

So how, if you’re deep in the throws of hustle culture, do you pull yourself out of it before you hit burnout?

Identify the fear

The first step is to realize where exactly the urge to constantly be working is coming from.

For some, it can be passion, sure, but for most it’s coming from a place of fear.

You’re scared of losing your job, of failing, or even just of not living up to your own expectations.

Once you’ve identified this you can take a few steps to prevent these fears.

For example, if you’re scared of losing your job and of the financial burden that would put you in, create a budget and set up a ‘safety net’. That’s a savings account that has up to 6 months of expenses saved back for a rainy day. This can lessen that fear for yourself if you know you’re secure, no matter what happens with your job.

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If you’re looking to become a little bit more literate with your finances, check out this book, it’s written specifically for those in their 20’s and 30’s who have student loan debt but are also looking to plan for the future.

Face the facts

The second step is to realize that your “constant” productivity, isn’t really that productive.

Countless studies have shown that you constantly being ‘on’ is actually counterproductive.

This is based on the idea of marathon runners. If you’re going to run 1 mile, you can sprint it. You can give it your all for that whole mile, no problem. However, if you’re going to run 26 miles and you start out at a sprint, giving it your all, by mile 2 you’re exhausted and you’re only able to give 90 percent, and by mile 3, you’re giving 80 percent and so on.

By the time you’re at mile 10, you’re dead tired and not making much progress towards completing that marathon.

The idea is the same for work.

Your brain only has so much energy to give. It needs to pace itself, recharge, and reenergize.

By allowing yourself to fully devote yourself to work for 6 to 8 hours a day and then recharging, relaxing, and taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional health the rest of the day, you’ll find yourself just as if not more productive than working 12 to 15 hour workdays.

If you struggle to close your laptop and leave it that way at the end of the day or take breaks to eat, get coffee or water, or exercise, try setting your schedule in a planner or a bullet journal and make a resolution to stick to it.

We like this one, from Amazon.

Start to incorporate healthy habits

Once you’ve trained yourself on shutting down for the day, start trying to work in healthy habits throughout the day and after your workday, when you “turn off”.

This could mean eating more healthy meals or on a more regular schedule or it could mean incorporating more water throughout your day.

We love these time marked water bottles.

If you’re trying to get away from fast food or frozen meals but aren’t experienced at cooking, try a meal delivery service, like HelloFresh! They come with premeasured ingredients and recipes that make messing up really difficult.

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If you’re feeling really ambitious, maybe you could try out a new diet and see how it makes you feel.

Get some movement in during your day

While this one can be a bit harder for those in the throws of hustle culture as it takes cutting some time out of your day, setting aside 30 minutes a day to workout or simply get moving can be great not only for your health, but for your productivity as well.

Moving your body is a great way to reset your mental and physical health.

Go for a run, get a home workout in, or even simply taking a short walk can be great ways to get moving.

If you’re looking into starting strength training try these resistance bands to start! They’re easily stored, easily used, and super versatile for a variety of workouts from strength training to yoga!

Spend time with loved ones and friends

A big thing that goes out the window when your only focus is your work is spending time with your family and friends. This can be difficult to work in when all you’re thinking about is working towards your next goal.

Implementing spending more time with friends and family, however, will be critical for your overall well being.

Start by simply calling a friend or family member once a week to connect and check in on them, no work talk! Then work up to twice a week and then try to get out with friends at least once a month!

This will encourage a healthier work-life balance and help keep you accountable for taking a break to have fun.

Take time for yourself to ‘treat’ yourself

Do something that you consider ‘bad’ right now. For some that might mean an hour spent at the spa getting a facial or their nails done, for others it might mean a facemask, a glass of wine, and an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

Whatever that is for you, it should be something just for you that you truly enjoy, and that allows you to fully relax. We love this facemask for relaxation.

While self care doesn’t always mean facemasks and wine, it does sometimes and when your biggest vice is overwork, sometimes forcing yourself to do nothing for 30 minutes is the best gift you can give to yourself.

Some of our reader’s favorite ways to take time for themselves is to cozy up in their beds and watch Netflix. Why? Because it can actually help ease your mind from thinking of all the tasks you need to do even just for 45 minutes.

Regardless of what ‘treat yourself’ looks like for you, being sure to incorporate it into your week can really help remove you, little by little, from hustle and burnout culture.

Having a more balanced life will bring you more fulfillment than working 24/7 ever could; our value isn’t determined by how productive or successful we are and it’s high time we stop letting our bosses make us believe otherwise.

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