If a popularity contest were to be held to find the one single word that is most commonly used in the startup and entrepreneurial world, I have no doubt the winner would be the following word.
Everywhere you go in startup circles, you hear someone saying it. In a business networking event, you see someone using it.
“The #1 key to success is through hustling.”
“If you don’t hustle, you have no chance of success.”
“These billion dollar companies are where they are now because the founders hustle day in and day out!”
One of the most famous celebrity entrepreneurs who supports hustling and is always talking about it is Gary Vaynerchuk.
His headline to entice people to subscribe to his newsletter even uses this word:
As much as I like and respect Gary and other extremely successful entrepreneurs, hustling is not my cup of tea… and I suspect… also not your cup of tea.
In this post, I share my views on hustling and the problems that come with it. I’m not going to discuss its pros since most likely you already know about it. If not, then let me fill you in with just 1 word — wealth.
Wealth (or getting out of poverty) is the most likely reason why most people want to hustle in the first place. Of course there are other reasons like providing value to your market, making the world a better place and other grandiose ideals/reasons, but for the most part, wealth is the primary motivating factor.
Hustlers work more hours than most. Way more hours. It’s not uncommon for them to start working early in the morning and staying till late at night to get the job done.
When you hustle all day long, all week long, and all year long… at some point, you’re bound to suffer from burnout.
Here’s the exact definition of “burnout” from Google:
Physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.
Burnout leads to stress, which in turn leads to health problems. To make things worse, when you’re hustling… you tend to skip or postpone meals and reduce or totally skip your exercise routine as you view them as a waste of time.
All you care about is your work. Everything else is of lesser importance and can wait.
Do this long enough and you’ll collapse (both mentally and physically).
When you’re still young and single, you have all the time in the world to pursue whatever you like. It’s okay to be hustling.
But when you have a family, and you hustle all day long, your time left to spend with your spouse and children will take a toll.
This is especially true if you have babies and young children in the family. Early childhood years are the best and most crucial time to spend with your loved ones… because this is the golden period to foster your relationships with them.
You only have 1 chance to make it right. Miss this “perfect timing” opportunity and you can never get it back or repeat it.
When I was in my 20s and still single, I used to work 15-hour days sitting in my front of my computer and “hustling”.
Now that I have 3 other persons (my wife and 2 kids) to provide to and am responsible for, I don’t hustle anymore.
Sounds counter-intuitive, eh? Usually, they’d say because you have a family, you want to provide the best for them, and in order to do so, you need to hustle.
The problem with this type of thinking is you only provide for them financially if you succeed (50% of businesses no longer exist after 5 years; startups fair worse — 92% fail within 3 years). You don’t provide for them emotionally, which can only be gotten via significant time-spending and interaction.
I now work in what I consider a comfortable environment and schedule — I only work 5 – 6 EFFECTIVE, FOCUSED hours a day, Monday – Friday. I typically don’t work during weekends, unless something urgent comes up.
Now you might think “What? Only 5 – 6 hours a day? You’re too lazy!”
Bear in mind these are FOCUSED hours that I’m actually really working. It doesn’t include breaks in between, lunch, and afternoon nap time (yes, I take a power nap every day and I explain why in this post).
I also don’t go to Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp or check my email every hour. Social media and general browsing are categorized as breaks and I’ve set aside a specific schedule for checking emails.
I also turn off ALL notifications (desktop and mobile) when working, with the exception being that my family members are able to call me in case of emergencies.
If you take into account the breaks and lunch, that sums up to about 7 – 8 hours, which is what a typical work day duration is.
How do I know I work 5 – 6 focused hours? I always use a timer to keep track when working, and I encourage you to do the same. You need to know how many effective hours you actually do real work so that you can do more in less time.
Sadly, most people don’t keep track and don’t know this number. They only keep track by looking at their watch before they start work, and then looking at their watch again at the end of the day. Then they conclude they work x hours.
Don’t do that. Only track effective hours that you’re actually really working.
Parkinson’s Law states:
Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
What this means is that to complete a certain task, you need x hours. If you only have 1 hour to do it, then you can complete it in 1 hour. If you have 3 hours to do it, then your brain will somehow “find ways” to expand to 3 hours to complete it, and so on.
Also, you’ll find there are always tasks that need to be done. They’re never ending. This means you’ll always be hustling all day long, all week long, and all year long.
A good reminder for all of us is that work is never, ever finished (infinite)… while our time on this earth is finite.
Sometimes, you need to learn just to let go.
A lot of people think that hustling means tackling and doing every possible task out there. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Instead of focusing on the things that actually matter — the key strategies, the key actions — the 20% that contribute the 80%… they hustle for the sake of hustling.
They seem to be very busy or at least trying to be busy… because of the false perception that busy is a good thing. That being busy is part of the process to achieving success.
There’s an old adage by ancient Chinese philosopher and writer, Lao Tzu:
“Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.”
I love this proverb!
If you do nothing, then do nothing. Embrace it and be proud of doing nothing. Relax and do nothing. Let your brain rest. This is what your breaks are for. Daydream. Take a nap.
Come to think of it, doing nothing is actually an activity in itself.
If you try to look busy but accomplish nothing at the end of the day, you might as well not do anything. When you try to look busy by doing unimportant things that don’t contribute to your bottom line, you still consume brain power. When you do nothing, you relax and your brain refreshes and recharges.
Take the case of my single days hustling 15-hour work days. I was busy. Very busy. Many a time my mom would come into my room letting me know lunch/dinner is ready and prompting me to eat together with her.
I would reply: “Yeah, I’m busy now in the middle of something. Don’t wait for me. I’ll eat later.”
And later usually means much, much later. Not good for my health.
A lot of times, I didn’t really accomplish any important tasks at the end of the day because I focused on doing the wrong things. Because I thought being busy looked good on paper (and in front of my family). I wanted to be viewed as “Wow Welly is so hardworking and busy!”
You need to be careful when adopting a “hustler” mindset. Make sure to strategize and prioritize your tasks first before going “all out”. Otherwise, your precious time will be wasted working on minuscule things that don’t contribute to your bottom line.
Less is more.
You can’t just “hustle” your way to success.
You also need luck (preparation meets opportunity), a good strategy, a great team, an awesome product that your market love, as well as fantastic customer service that keeps customers happy and refer others to you.
You can't just 'hustle' your way to success.Click To Tweet
It might sound like I’m trying to “belittle” or “knock down” on hustling, but I’m not. In fact, I respect and admire hustlers very much! It’s just that I don’t want to be like them.
I don’t want to be a hustler.
You, too, don’t need to be a hustler like Gary Vaynerchuk, or Mark Cuban, or anyone else. It all comes down to how far you want to go in business. For me, while I’d love to have tons of successes and money the world can give me, I don’t want to pay the price by hustling all the time in order to achieve it.
I want to spend time with my family and be there for them. I want to travel and see the world. I want to never have to worry about money again. I want to live a comfortable lifestyle and have more than enough money to pay the bills and provide well for my family. I want to live life on my own terms and buy or enjoy things without having to look at the price tag.
And yes, I also want to be useful to other people. I take pride in my work and the value I provide to others.
To achieve all these, I only need to be a millionaire. And to be a millionaire, you don’t need to hustle all day long.
And to achieve all these, I only need to be a millionaire. And to be a millionaire, you don’t need to hustle all day long.
It’s a different story if your dream is to become a billionaire. In that case, go hustle!
A word of caution, though.
Most people are not tough enough to withstand the toll that hustling demands. I know I’m not.
Next time you see Facebook posts about how your friends and peers are hustling, no need to feel bad for yourself and be discouraged. Like the post, wish them well, and continue your life knowing that they and you have different priorities in life. To each his own.
For those of you who don’t want to become a billionaire and hustle all the time, focus on growing yourself and your business one little step at a time — that is what ConstantGrowth is all about.
I’m curious about your thoughts on hustling. Leave them in a comment below and let me know! I read and appreciate every single comment.
Welly Mulia helps entrepreneurs increase and precisely track their email marketing revenue. He is also the CEO & co-founder of 2 SaaS (software as a service) platforms, Zaxaa and BirdSend. Learn more about email marketing in his Email Marketing Growth for Entrepreneurs Community.