From The






From The


Every Day We’re Hustling

“We’re all products of the hustle culture”

The what? I had to Google it. The best way I can think to describe it from everything that I read is that it’s this increasingly popular lifestyle (adopted mostly by young people) that is founded in busyness, ambition, and achievement. Popular phrases like “Get that bread” and “Rise and grind” are some of the most modern and accurate representations of this culture. Hustle culture is viewed in one of two lights: as cool and trendy, or as toxic and unhealthy. Some call it drive, others call it “performative workaholism”. Yikes.

The main concern surrounding hustle culture is that we become so obsessed with performing and striving that we abandon any semblance of work-life balance or integration. There was an article out of Harvard Business School in 2017 literally titled “Having No Life is the New Aspirational Lifestyle”. I wasn’t sure if I agreed with that notion, and then I overheard a conversation where people were comparing the amount of sleep they had gotten the night before. Whoever had slept the least actually received the most acknowledgment for their sacrifice. It was like a symbol of status or accomplishment.

This is troubling for a number of reasons. Studies show us how overworking has negative and harmful effects on our holistic wellbeing. Things like, job stress can result in poor sleep. Or, the longer your work hours the harder it is to balance your personal priorities. There are even studies that show that overworking can result in a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. Many of these study results aren’t shocking or groundbreaking.

So why do we do it? I think it’s because we think it results in higher levels of productivity or efficiency, and we are sorely mistaken. Research is clear that overworking has a negative effect on organizational performance because it results in things like decreased output, absenteeism, and high turnover rates.

If that’s the case, then what can we do about it?

Many people wonder if work-life balance is even possible. The research firm, Catalyst suggests trying for work-life effectiveness instead. This is the idea that we find a way to make work align with our personal lives. This makes more sense. “Balance” suggests some sort of equality in these spheres of life that may not be possible with the realities and demands of work today. We can work towards work-life effectiveness in a number of ways at work and at home:

  • Determine your priorities – What is most important to you and what do you value in each sphere of your life? Actually create a list of things. Take this one step further by asking yourself if you do, in fact, prioritize those things. Determine how much time and attention you need to dedicate to those things for them to actually be prioritized in your life.
  • Restructure old habits – We fall into patterns in our life that sometimes don’t support our changing priorities. Don’t be afraid to restructure your life to better fit those priorities. These changes don’t have to be big career moves to be effective. Something as simple as changing your bedtime or who picks up the kids from school can have profound effects on work-life integration.
  • Don’t overcommit – Set manageable goals for yourself at work and home. These goals should encourage engagement and growth in all aspects of your life. Be prepared to adjust those goals as necessary if you realize that your goals are unrealistic or unattainable.
  • Get comfortable with saying ‘no’ – We often feel compelled to say “yes” to every invitation or opportunity that comes our way. We live in a society that values these yeses. But, if we say yes to everything, it becomes very hard for us to do all of those things well. Thinking back to our priorities can help us determine which opportunities to say yes to and which ones we can politely decline.
  • Create healthy boundaries – It is impossible to completely separate our lives at work and our lives at home. However, we can create boundaries that allow us to enjoy the best parts of both. Something as simple as deciding not to answer work emails after 5pm can help you to manage your time more effectively at work, while also freeing up time for you to enjoy time at home.
  • Access your support systems – We live in a fairly individualistic society. This means that as people, we value our ability to be independent. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but it can become detrimental when we forget that there is value in having groups that support and uplift us. Make sure to build and access support networks that help you succeed personally and professionally. Ask these groups for help when you need it.
  • Make time for fun – There are so many studies that support the importance of fun and “play”. Put fun things on your to-do list. It may seem counterintuitive to schedule fun, but it is just as important for us to dedicate time to fun, as it is to our other priorities.

It is important for us, as organizations and individuals, to put real effort into better matching our personal and professional lives so that they can support each other effectively. Moving towards work-life effectiveness helps us to be more satisfied and successful in all of the roles that we play. We can still do really good work, and be really effective employees and teammates, without falling subject to “hustle culture.”

*Leadership Lesson*

An activity like Pie Chart Life can help you or your team examine how you spend time. This activity gives us a visual representation of our lives and allows us to have discussion about what that means, how it’s working, and what we might want to change for the better. Give it a try!  

*Meet the Author*

Caelan Cooney is another Millennial who wants ‘to make an impact’, a self-proclaimed movie critic, avid explorer, lifelong learner, and Chapman University graduate.