It’s okay to push pause on the hustle
I’ve been self-employed for almost two years. Remembering back to when I first launched, the title of entrepreneur felt magical and delicious, like freedom.
Sometimes that’s true.
It also involves a lot of risk and sheer hustle. Mental and emotional toughness (which occasionally breaks down, you probably know what I’m talking about).
So many things to focus on, plus a bunch of things you don’t even know you should be paying attention to.
Many of us left a day job to do it our own way. To express something huge bubbling up inside that could no longer be contained.
Then we fell headlong into the world of online marketing, funnels, content creation and audience attraction. When you realize you’re spending more time marketing your business than actually doing the work you love.
When the light bulb comes on that one of the benefits of working for someone else is they have a person who updates the website and a person who brings in leads and a person who invoices the customer — someone else besides you.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating going back, just making the point now every role is mine to play.
I began to cultivate a new respect for the companies I used to work for. Because at some point, the owner was in the exact same place as me.
Handling everything solo.
Building a successful and sustainable business is a long game. One of my former employers was founded in 1939, the other in 1956.
Meaning generations of owners stuck it out. Yes, things were likely stressful and tight in the beginning.
Sixty-five years later, it can still be stressful and tight because the markets have changed, technology’s changed, what clients ask for has changed.
Amplified by the fact that you now employ hundreds or even thousands of people instead of just yourself. The constant pressure to develop the next new thing, to grow and scale. To realize an increase in profitability every year.
Recently, I gave myself permission to press pause on the hustle.
Stop, breathe for a moment and consider how I’m showing up.
Think carefully about where I really want my business to go.
What size company do I actually feel comfortable running?
What type of life do I want? Not just work, but what about my relationships, my health, my spiritual growth, my peace of mind?
How am I defining success, anyway?
Did I leave the hustle of being an employee (the truth is you have to work hard to demonstrate your worth or you can easily be replaced or downsized) only to exchange it for a similar uphill battle to be a successful entrepreneur?
Or, is it time for a new way?
What if we didn’t have to constantly put ourselves in a state of stress and pressure just to meet our basic needs, just to survive?
I’ve recently become interested in the idea of Universal Basic Income. I’m not by any means an expert, there are so many great articles written and models being looked at by economists, futurists, etc.
Of course, there are bound to be supporters and detractors of this idea. It’s an extremely complex undertaking to consider shifting the entire way humans view the connection between work and wealth.
Imagine for a moment though, if it was guaranteed you could pay for this month’s housing, food and medical care. And next month and the month after.
No stressing, the money would be in your bank account no matter what.
Just take a moment to breathe into that concept. Notice what happens to your body. Do your shoulders relax and drop down?
Does the knot in your gut begin to unwind?
I believe ‘forced hustle’, a.k.a. busting your ass every day to avoid negative consequences, could be the ultimate demise of human society.
It’s not sustainable for us to work at this pace, to push, to be under this amount of stress. Everyone has a breaking point and we’re reaching ours.
What if work is something we came to joyously?
What if we valued all kinds of work equally?
What if we could offer our gifts simply because that’s what we are here to do?
What if you could choose how you wanted to contribute to greater society?
What would you write or create or build or bridge or give or love?
This will not happen overnight, so of course, I’ll log on today and hustle a bit within the current system that exists. I am practical and need to buy food this month, thank you very much.
It’s still worthwhile to begin having these conversations. To explore what’s possible to shift now so we can prepare ourselves for the future. Maybe UBI is an answer, perhaps there are others. I’m on a mission to find out and be a change maker.
I’m optimistic that we’re capable as a human species of providing everyone with their basic needs and respecting all types of work, both paid and unpaid.
Allowing each of us freedom to express our unique gifts, step into our soul mission.