Cutting the Hustle | On Why A Laid-Back Life (And Business) Is Part of the Good

John and I have put seven years into our business, almost seven years into our marriage, and four years of bringing a little peanut (or three) into bed with us at 6:30 every morning. As we've come to a point of growing our family and our work we've delved into the heart of community, of finding people and supports around us to make it possible to achieve the things we dream of. Seven years of actively pursuing the belief that we can't do it alone and there are people out there to help us. I wrote before about how tweens are the perfect babysitters and dogs are the perfect vacuums. (Almost perfect.) About letting some things slide and finding help with others.

Part of that community-building has been surrounding ourselves with like minded under-40 entrepreneurs, which fortunately isn't too hard to do thanks to the beautiful world of the internet, intentional use of hashtags, and supportive Facebook groups like this one. There are so many under-40's (dare I say, millennials?) that are pursuing their creative and strategic goals and dreams and they are killin' it.

But what we've found, in doing our hunt for a supportive community, is that our circles of young entrepreneurs in the West (Canada, US, UK) are absolutely, uncompromisingly, to-the-bone fully, obsessed with what we all formally call (and rarely question), "The Hustle".

The Hustle is an illness and we want to see it cured.

Let me describe "the hustle" for you. "The Hustle" looks like late nights, early mornings, coffee-on-an-IV drip. It's apparently associated with messy buns and white desks with glittery confetti and hand lettered to-do lists surrounded by flora and fauna that somehow came from the forest and into the office. For men, the Hustle looks like Nikes hitting the pavement and iPhones set to work. For women, the Hustle looks like shiny Apple laptops beside brightly coloured novels and seven or eight de-stemmed flower heads.

There's nothing wrong with the imagery that people are using to describe their passion for working hard. It's getting tired, sure, but that's not the problem. What's wrong is this freakish obsession with "getting it done".

From what I have seen, "The Hustle" is a prettied-up version of what we actually know to be workaholism; a glorification of compulsive working and a can't-stop-won't-stop attitude about getting our inbox cleared. Our inbox, friends. The one thing that we are all very sure won't last forever.

But good Millenial "Hustlers", they have kids, too, you know. Kids, running around quietly in sweet little J-Crew suspenders with fabric indoor tents and absolutely no television in sight. (What do they do?) Kids, battling screens for our attention. Kids, learning their position on the priority list. Kids, they rarely help us "get it done".

Here's the thing: the Hustle doesn't work. Trust us, we tried. Remember the 90's? The main premise of most of our favourite movies from that decade was that the Hustle destroys families. (Liar Liar? The Family Man? Erin Brockovich? The Santa Claus?) Workaholism is a disease and it is used to help us cope with the things we don't want to face. Ouch. Just like any other addiction, The Hustle keeps our eyes turned away from the things we need to stare down, and we do not need to stare down the black hole of Instagram. We do not need to stare down our emails all hours of the day. We do not need to stare down every single possibility or opportunity that might come our way, in the name of getting things done.

We need to stare down the things that matter. Our businesses? Yes, they matter. Our work matters immensely. John and I put our heart, soul and family into New Vintage Media and we will do it whole heartedly until the time comes to stop. But we need to broaden our vision because these little companies we create are not the only thing that matters. We can not abandon the people, the passions, the projects, the homes that we love so dearly in order to get. it. done.

You see, if we are breathing here, our life passions are never done. Our business is never "done". Our family is never "done". You will never, never, never get it "done". Your to-do list is slippery and it will trick you into thinking that it is the most important thing in your life - and it is lying to you.

Here are four tips that we have tried for cutting the Hustle and embracing the priorities:

1. Allocate Time Off Every Day
Many of us self-employed people see waking hours as working hours. They are not the same thing. Look at your daily schedule and allocate time in your day, every day, that you will not work. Perhaps you will not work in bed in the morning. Maybe you will keep your phones and laptops put away from 5 PM to 9 PM. It could be that you even shut off all technology for periods of your day. But, every day, without fail, allocate time away from work. This is easier said than done when the business is your own, but it will not be the ruin of your business. In fact, it might be the best thing for you.

2. Allocate Days Off Every Week
We look at our schedule two months ahead and plan off two days every week. Sometimes, the days are consecutive (Thursday & Friday are often our days-off), but sometimes they are sporadic (we have a few Monday / Thursday combinations). We take Sunday mornings to attend church, but often work in the evenings. However you work it, pick two and stick to them.

On these days off, put aside anything that will make you focus on work. If this means no email checking, then don't check the email. If you truly believe you have a client that will fire you because of an inability to respond within a 24 hour period, set an automatic reply. Contact your clients in advance to warn them of your days off. Even personal assistants have days off, and the odds are good that if you're self-employed, you are not a personal assistant.

3. Find A Passion That Has Nothing to Do With Earning Money
My husband is amazing at this. He loves finding new passions, and often they cost us cash instead of bringing cash in. This can feel constricting when the automatic response is "how can I turn this into business", but it's worth the investment. For a while, John made cigar box ukuleles, for fun. No selling, just fun. Then he made beer, also for fun. And for drinking. Personally, I have zero connection to calligraphy as a photographer, so I learned hand lettering in order to make some playful "welcome" signs for our home. Pick up a craft, cooking, a hobby - that you do not expect to earn money from. You are a business person, but this is not associated with your business.

4. Decide on Who Matters Most
I hope you come high on your priority list, and I hope your family does, too. Consider who matters most in your life - write the list - and creatively plan ways to involve them (and yourself) in the things you love to do. Go screen-free with them. Do things with them that do not have an agenda.

This life is not about Hustling, it's about living. I hope you feel free to enjoy the things that matter most and give them your best, because you are worth more than the capacity of your business. You are not defined by what you earn, or even what you create, and the Hustle can be cured.

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