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Why 24/7 Hustle Makes Us Die Young, and How to Prevent It

This article originally appeared on Badass Times and is reproduced with permission.

Nearly a year ago, in 2019, all I knew was hustle. I was sitting in my room next to the desk. It was afternoon, but I was still in my bathrobe, with messy hair, I’d hardly eaten, moved, or did anything besides working on my laptop.

Back then I was thinking, “Well, Einstein must have looked the same during his work. All the world geniuses do the same.”

Suddenly, in the middle of another task, I froze. The wave of groundbreaking understanding of the fact that the world and humanity were moving way too fast smashed into me like a tsunami. I remember grabbing my head with two palms, thinking that we (and I) should stop the rat race, the hustle, all this fucking overachievement trendy shit; otherwise, something will make us stop.

In March 2020 we’ve got the pandemic, and we all had to stop against our own will.

By the end of 2019, I got my first real burnout. My body and my mind refused to work. I literally wanted to lay down, sleep, rest all the time. I couldn’t do anything at all. That’s when, thanks to my journalistic skills and well, not to brag, great charisma I became a streamer on LiveMe. I didn’t have to do anything but talk and entertain to earn some cash. I did that until I could create and work again in April-May 2020.

Where are we all going with a 24/7 hustle?

We are going to die faster. It may sound radical, but unfortunately it’s true.

In 2018, every month of the year except December, some of Stewart’s (my friend, Editor-in-Chief, and Co-Founder of Badass Times) friends committed suicide. All of them were top managers, founders, or startup CEOs with lots on their shoulders.

Just think about it. Eleven people decided that they didn’t want to live anymore, because they couldn’t cope with huge responsibility and a constant load of work, that never stopped.

If you are not having fun, your business is dead. — Ramit Sethi

I’ve heard of some founders who’ve got gray hair during their first year of the big hustle.

Don’t get me wrong, any business does require a lot of responsibilities and hard work. But you shouldn’t turn it to an eternal never-ending hustle, digging your own grave. Balance is what we should work on nowadays. We should remember how to live life, what brings us joy, and how to breathe again.

I like how Ramit Sethi put it in his blog post on why hustle is not the answer:

We “buckle down.” We start “hustling” (puke). A lot of us stop going out with friends. We stop having new experiences, the very experiences that we can write about, that energize us, that make us realize why we’re doing this in the first place!

We don’t go surfing despite living by the ocean. We don’t spend time with our families and friends. We forget to eat, laugh, dance, even just listen to music for the sake of art!

Wake up! Stop listening to all the bullshit modern “gurus” tell you about hustling from every corner of Google (sounds ridiculous, I know). They also started somewhere and didn’t build their empires overnight. A few years ago, nobody knew who they were.

In Ukraine, where I was born, we have a saying “to put spaghetti in someone’s ears”. If someone is putting spaghetti on your ears it means he/she is bullshitting you or fucking with you.

Take spaghetti from your ears and start living a real life.

How to have fun while building business/working on a project?

  • Surrender!

Surrender to life. Just sit down and fucking remember what you love doing! Morning coffee in a favorite cafe in silence? Afternoon walk in the park? Beach picnics? Sunset surfing? Add it all to your calendar with the same excitement you add meetings to it. Plan it in advance and commit to doing it, no matter what.

  • Make your life (not work) a priority.

You are living your life here, and now; it was not made for a 24/7 hustle. It was made for all sorts of experiences that make it rich. Work is a part of life. Enjoy every moment, plan your rest too – visualize it! Make your work a single, not an album.

  • Move!

We forget, that movement is life. Now we sit all day long surrounded by gadgets. It makes us sick. So many diseases are connected to no movement! Ask Google. Again, add it to your calendar. Choose what physical activities bring you joy and go for it at least 2-3 times a week.

  • Stop waiting for something all the time.

We wait when our life is going to change, when we earn our first 6-7 figures, when we build a profitable business, when we buy a house, a car, when we travel again when this and that. Have your goals, but live now. The future is going to come. Build it step by step, but don’t live in the future. Take it easy.

The worship of hustle actually prevents businesses from being started and grown in the first place, because those of us who don’t want to hustle⁠—or don’t think we can⁠—assume that success isn’t for us. — Alex Turbull, CEO & Founder of Groove

  • Create a morning routine.

Once I’ve been told that I should wake up early, have all meetings done by lunch, and then start working. It was my employer back then, and I tried my best in being a good employee. So I’ve tried again and again. But I am not a morning person, and it was really hard for me.

Today I devote all my mornings to myself. I have long showers, meditate, do yoga, listen to podcasts, eat my breakfast slowly, and enjoy the morning glory. Then I have a daily call with my co-founder and start working at about 10:30 am – 12 pm. I love it! I’m full of energy, rested, inspired, and feeling amazing. And if sometimes I feel like I want to sleep in, I do it. Because mornings can be not so shiny or my mood can be a poop. Because I’m a fucking human.

Try it. Create your morning routine. What would you do? Run with your doggy? Swim in the pool? Write? Cuddle with your loved ones and have a slow breakfast together?

  • Socialize.

We are social animals. We thrive among people! I know that now we’re conditioned, but do what you can to meet with your friends and family. Sunday lunches? Amazing! Regular calls? Perfecto! Picnics in the park or at the beach – you name it. Leave all your gadgets, planners, apps, set your phone on the airplane mode, and LIVE LIFE. Laugh till your stomach hurts, roll on the grass with kids and dogs, go swimming naked in the lake. Be free, be crazy. Smile or make compliments to people you don’t know in the street. I’ve done that. What makes you alive?

  • Be honest with yourself and others.

We are not robots. If you feel shitty and someone asks how are you, be courageous and tell the truth. Or if you see someone feels like crap, ask twice how he/she is, pay attention, be compassionate. Being kind costs nothing. But it can really help you and someone, and sometimes it even saves lives.

Slow down. Build your business day by day, step by step. Plan, dream, work. But don’t sacrifice your life to it. It’s too short to make it one massive burnout when you are too tired to spend time with your kids or to exist at all.