Hustle Culture and its Downsides.

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“Hustling is a badge of pride for people. It’s like saying that spending every waking hour doing something productive gives life some purpose. And it’s only getting worse with the increase of smartphones, and work from home setups”, says Akshay, a twenty six year old writer. 

This is not the first time you’re reading about the ‘hustle culture’ or the ‘hustling mindset’. If you’ve been around social media for the last few years, you’ve witnessed the slow transition from promoting hustle culture, to calling it toxic. 

What is hustling all about? 

To put it simply, hustling is the idea that your career and the money you make are the most important things out there. Without these, you are not going to be successful, or have a satisfying life. Now, to be successful, you need to work hard. You need to be on the “grind” constantly and work your way up, always. 

In definition, it made perfect sense to an entire generation which was taught that ‘working hard’ is the most important step towards success. And that ‘success’ was mandatory - and it usually looked like a good job, a good house, a good paycheck, a strong network. To a generation which believed this growing up, falling into the hustle mentality wasn’t that difficult. 

Hustlers don’t stick to working in just their hours. They go beyond the regular timings, roles, and even requirements of work. Be it clocking out late, going to networking gatherings post work, or picking up multiple other gigs, hustlers do it all. Why do they do this? Because it helps build their personal brand, it can increase their work presence, and can get them that promotion. 

So, why do people hustle? 

 “It’s essential”, says Abhisek, a twenty five year old consultant working at a Big Four. “Corporates are large and so many people come with so much expertise in the industries they’re working in. I like to network with people from within my industry, my company, and from other relevant areas. It’s the one way I can always know my market value, get new opportunities and grow. 

If you are happy with whatever you have, you’ll just stick there all your life. If you want to see growth, you have to show up, work, network, and learn. Basically, it’s a choice between making an impression or losing all recall value. And you are the product”, he adds. 

Quite often, you would have heard phrases about how the “hustle doesn’t stop”, and it’s true, it doesn’t. Voluntarily or involuntarily, young workers are now a part of the hustle mentality, This means they’re checking their emails till the time they sleep and as soon as they wake up. They are making presentations when they are ill, or are showing up when they don’t feel up to it. 

But who does Hustle Culture really benefit?

In my experience, hustling is always promoted by top management”, says Akshay. Be it on social media or at work, many team leaders, senior management, and CEOs promote hustling. They promote a lifestyle of hard work, and believe that without hustling, all talents are gone to waste.

To many, this makes sense. We live in an overpopulated world. The markets are oozing with talent. If not you, it will be the next best person. After all, we’re all replaceable.

So, where does it go wrong?

Yes, having a job and financial security do matter. But if your workspace makes you feel like just another cog in the machine which can be replaced in a minute, then do you actually have value? What is the point of working to create this value then?

This loop can become toxic. And like Akshay, many young workers have decided to call the hustle culture out on its toxicity.

“It’s getting worse because we’re all so accessible all the time. Technology ensures that work can be a part of our lives, 24x7. Your managers and co-workers should not have access to you beyond work hours. It shouldn’t be acceptable.”

Globally, rising cases of anxiety and depression due to overworking, burnout, and stress are common. And this has only increased since perpetual lockdowns and the pandemic started. Today. A majority of companies are working from home. This comes with endless complaints and issues of a non-existent work life balance. One question remains - 

Is hustling worth it? 

“If you’re someone who enjoys going the extra mile, then why not. But I’d rather use my free time to do other things, like relax, socialise, or learn something different instead of working for a little more money”, says Akshay. 

While many people are discarding hustling, some still prescribe to the grind. There isn’t a black and white way to look at hustling, but if it is something that begins to take a toll on you, it’s time to reconsider.

Hustling comes with the idea of making more money. Day jobs don’t seem to match basic standards of living, making people go out of their way for that extra cash. But what is usually unnoticed is financial planning. 

After all, hustling for a little extra cash only cranks up the spending of it. It’s the equivalent of going on a 3,000 calorie binge after a workout that only burned 800. Perhaps if we diverted some of those hustling energies towards saving, expense planning, we’d have more time to sit back.

Having a strong budget, savings, investments, and more passive income streams can keep you financially secure. All without going beyond your limits for that hustle. 

And hey, never forget that life isn’t going to be all about that money. I’m sure it helps, but it’s good to know how much money is really needed to keep you content. 


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