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Let's stop pretending that being good at money means you need to be good at math. Instead, let's listen to our body and our mind.
I recently came across a post on my Instagram feed where a woman described her daily schedule. While showing herself hard at work in an aesthetically pleasing shot, she wrote:
Work: 7:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Second job: 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Side hustle: 8:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.
This woman is working a total of 15 hours plus commuting. All this combined with less than 6 hours of sleep.
We should have used this work schedule to display the need for increased wages, but instead, it disguised overworking ourselves as drive and a good work ethic. This woman chose this lifestyle rather than out of necessity. I remember seeing the hours and thinking to myself: why.
This woman is certainly not alone or the sole driver of this damaging display of “hustle culture.”
TikTokers, YouTubers, and Instagramers alike fight to show the most productive morning routine, the busiest schedules, and the most significant announcements.
Twitter’s favourite, Elon Musk, C.E.O. of Tesla Inc., has perpetuated this idea by tweeting things such as “No one has ever changed the world on 40 hours a week” and if you love what you do, “it (mostly) doesn’t feel like work.”
The newest trend also portrays a false sense of work-life balance through a quick snap of a face mask or your morning five-minute journal. Because although you work yourself to the bone, you have to make it appear like your life is a stress-free ~oasis~.
Hustle culture is the recent phenomenon that professional goals should come before anything else in life. It’s the idea that our work should provide us with an incredible sense of pride.
Other aspects of life are a distraction from the relentless hard work that we must reach to achieve these goals. The greatest hustle involves the greatest amount of personal sacrifice, whether giving up time with friends, other hobbies or even sleep.
While hustle culture is a recent trend, North Americans have always had a severe case of workaholism. This I noticed when I was travelling Europe. I think most would agree with the initial shock of Europe’s working hours and vacation policies because they significantly differ from our own. Stores close no later than 5 or 6 p.m., restaurants shut their doors for nearly three hours between lunch and dinner, and cities are a literal ghost town come Sunday morning.
In addition, did you know that Canada has one of the worst vacation policies compared to other developed countries? We’re at the bottom of the pack at ten paid vacation days per year compared to places like France and the United Kingdom that get 30 and 28 days, respectively.
While we should be narrowing this gap, we’re making it worse. With one in three Canadians saying they have one, the increase of side hustles has added between 14 and 20 hours per week of work on average.
Hustle culture isn’t just increased working hours. It’s psychological to a large degree. Phrases like “Rise and Grind,” “T.G.I.M.,” or “Sleep when you’re dead” are all rooted in this same notion that self-fulfillment comes from work output.
So, where did these ideas come from? And who are they really benefiting? One writer feels that the tech industry is primarily to blame for starting this work craze during the early 2000s. Companies like Google started bringing aspects of home life into the office to make working easier and keep employees at their desks longer.
Other company executives caught wind and started replicating their model. Because if they can eliminate reasons to leave work while also tying self-worth to productivity, they can dramatically increase company output without rising wages. David Hansson, the Basecamp co-founder, said, “The vast majority of people beating the drums of hustle-mania are not the people doing the actual work. They’re the managers, financiers and owners.”
Other reasons for this shift are the rise of self-development books and social media use. Self-development books spread unrealistic and simplified versions of life that can’t work for everyone. At the same time, social media can make a hellish workday off-screen seem like the most incredible and most productive day of your career. Both are not real life and can make people feel demoralized in work and other aspects of life.
Over the last few years, I’ve learned first-hand the consequences of hustle-culture on my mental health and well-being. As someone who has chronic health conditions, it’s tough to tie your self-worth to the hours of work you put in a day or how early you wake up. I have found myself countless times feeling less than because I had to rest, take a break, or sleep an extra hour. When I should’ve been loving and listening to my body, I was pushing it too far and preventing it from healing.
I’ve also noticed an uptick in my anxiety. For example, if I don’t have the perfect morning routine, if I’m not as productive as I’d like to be, or if my creativity isn’t there today — I feel less than. I’d complete eight out of nine things and feel like a failure. So many things that are entirely regular daily occurrences were causing me a tremendous amount of stress.
On top of all this, I’d find it harder to stay present at the moment. Thoughts racing about upcoming to-dos, whether I’d done enough that day, whether others had done more, or whether I was even good enough.
It’s incredibly problematic and something that I’m working on.
Luckily, things have gotten better through personal work and therapy, but it still requires daily work. Reminding myself that self-worth should relate to how I treat people, that it’s okay to rest, and that it’s up to me (and me alone) to tell myself whether I’m doing what’s best for myself. I’m sure I’m not alone in some of these feelings.
One woman trying to change how we feel about work during this high-pressure digital age is Grace Beverley. A social media influencer and Oxford University alum turned entrepreneur.
She was the first high-profile name that I saw talk about the unrealistic working expectations of our time. As a workaholic herself, she’s previously discussed how society shaped her to feel most worthy when she was at her breaking point. She’s now working on challenging these unrealistic expectations for herself and others.
Grace has a book called ‘Working hard, hardly working – how to achieve more, stress less and feel fulfilled” that I’m dying to read, but I don’t believe it’s available in Canada yet. In the meantime, she has just started a podcast under the same name where she interviews highly successful guests and questions them about their work-life habits to “make our work and home lives more balanced, successful and fulfilling.”
Grace is a great resource. Other things that have helped me are practicing mindfulness like meditation and journaling, talking with my therapist, and daily gratitude. You won’t look back from your death bed and regret working more. Life is way too short to feel less than because you are simply living! Remind yourself of these mantras daily, and soon you’ll shape your own narrative of success.
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Mixed Up Money is pleased to share a free resource for anyone looking to cut back on non-essential spending. My most-requested product is these monthly calendars to share on your Instagram story, use as a phone background, or print off to track your spending habits.
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