time management

Hustling Toward Burnout: Are You Walking the Fine Line Between Hustle and Hard Work?

May 10, 2021

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Hustling Toward Burnout: Are You Walking the Fine Line Between Hustle and Hard Work?

As someone who speaks out against wearing busy as a badge of honor, you can guess that I’m not an advocate for the 24/7, “Hustle Til You Drop” culture that seems to run rampant in the business and professional worlds.  In this episode, I’m exploring the fine line between hustle and hard work, how to know if you’re getting a little too close to burnout from burning the candle at both ends, and how to change course before it’s too late.








What do you think when you hear the word hustle? What do you picture?

Now what about hard work? What comes to mind for you there?

And finally… burnout. When you think about burnout… what do you see? What do you feel?

Episode 80 is all about hustle. The good, the bad and the ugly.

Can you hustle or work hard without heading straight for burnout?

After living the hustle life, and putting in hard work, plus having dabbled in burnout several years ago – in this episode, I’ll talk about the fine line between hustle and hard work, and then share a few signs that you might be getting a little too close to burnout… and finally how to change course before it’s too late.

Hustle doesn’t have to be all bad. Hard work isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be, and burnout? Well… I wouldn’t want that for anyone – especially you.

Why is Hustle Culture even a thing?

Why is hustle culture even a thing? How did this happen? Why are we like this?

Here are few reasons that I see on an all too regular basis:

01. We Feel Like We’re Behind

First – I think it stems from a feeling of being behind. Feeling behind financially, Feeling behind professionally. Comparison is real, and we’ve got what feels like an infinite number of people to compare ourselves too as a result of having social media and instagram squares as our window to the world. Not to mention the fact that most of you listening are probably millennials like me – and after graduating into one of the worst economies in history… well you know the story. We’re buying homes later. Getting married later. Having children later. We have more education and more debt. Lower salaries and less in savings. And when we compare ourselves to say… our parents or even GenX it’s easy to feel behind, even though we were dealt completely a different hands of cards to play.

02. We Feel Like We Have Something to Prove

Second – A lot of us also feel like we have something to prove. That we haven’t made it until we hit a certain financial milestone. Or we aren’t successful until we have a certain amount in our bank account, or a specific title or any number of other things.

If you’re a business owner – maybe you’ve felt that push to grind until you matched or surpassed your previous 9-5 salary. Or you’ve been striving to hit an arbitrary revenue number – because you want to be a six figure business owner. My friend Sarah Becker – you met her back in Episode 18 – talked about this on Instagram recently. Most of us don’t actually need six figures to live a comfortable life, but we set our sights on making six figures because it feels important. Or because it sounds sexy.

So how do you know if you’re getting close to burn out from too much hustle, or from working too many hours?

Oh – and I should say here that burnout is not a medical diagnosis…. And I am not a doctor. But burnout can definitely impact your mental and physical health. 

Signs of Burnout to Watch Out For

Here are the signs to watch out for… some of these will be fairly obvious

  • Let’s start with your attitude:

    • If you start to feel cynical or irritable at work.

    • If you feel increasingly impatient with coworkers, clients and even your family.

    • If you dread interacting with clients.

  • And if you just plain hate your work – even if you once loved it.

  • And now the physical side:

    • Your energy is so drained from work, that you’re unable to actually enjoy your limited downtime.

    • You can’t sleep because you’re dreading work tomorrow

    • When you wake up, you’re exhausted

    • When you do have downtime, you end up numbing out with food, booze or getting sucked into the scroll on your phone – instead of interacting with others or getting in some physical activity

    • You start getting sick more often, which is a relief because then you get to call in sick and not work… but then it’s even worse because you have to play catch up and the cycle continues.

Long Term Consequences of Burnout

I’ve already mentioned some of these but some of the Long Term Consequences of Burnout include

  1. Excessive stress

  2. Fatigue

  3. Insomnia

  4. Sadness, anger or irritability

  5. Alcohol or substance misuse

  6. Heart disease

  7. High blood pressure

  8. Type 2 diabetes

  9. Vulnerability to illnesses

How to Change Course if You Sense You’re Heading for Burnout

So if you – or someone you know is feeling like you’re on the train from Hustle Town to Burnoutville, here are three things you can do to change course:

01. Evaluate Your Options

First – Evaluate your options. Can you discuss your concerns with your supervisor, with a trusted colleague, an industry peer, a biz bestie, or even your significant other and brainstorm solutions? Delegating, moving deadlines, hiring help, putting a project on hold, even rethinking your goals –  Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to help you see all of the options, opportunities and potential solutions for stepping away from the hustle.

02. Get Some Support

Second – Get some support. A few years ago when I was experiencing serious burnout, I saw a therapist named Beth a few times a month. I thought I wasn’t working hard enough, but she helped me realize that I was actually trying to thrive in a toxic work environment. If you’re a solopreneur, it can feel pretty isolating to carry the weight of your business on your shoulders. Find a community of other small business owners so you can support each other and bounce ideas. Just having a support system can do wonders for your mental health with you’re feeling on the verge of burnout.

03. Take Care of Yourself

And third – take care of yourself. When you’re on the path to burnout and caught up in the hustle hard, 24/7 way of life, taking time for yourself is going to feel counterintuitive – but getting some exercise, practicing mindfulness, making sure you’re getting enough sleep and trying to relax are all ways that you can hit the brakes when you’re barreling toward burnout.




What will it take you to get from chaos to calm?

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