The other day, while scrolling through Twitter, I saw a post that stopped me in my tracks. Like most tweets, it was short and sweet and to the point, but that didn’t stop me from reading the words over and over again. It read:
“It’s never worth putting in the time if you’re not getting paid for it.”
It got me thinking about hustling. As women with entrepreneurial spirits, we hear the word a lot. As nouns, as verbs as adjectives, we are constantly being told to hustle.
If you’re at a point in your life where you’re trying to explore a new career path or find your life’s passion, hearing about hustling can make you feel tense.
You’re working your butt off trying to discover your true purpose, but how do you know you’re hustling for the right things – things you’re actually passionate about?
Let’s back it up a bit and get some perspective.
My senior year of high school, I took a women’s fitness class. This smaller gym class allowed me to get pretty much 1:1 fitness training from a teacher through aerobics, weight lifting and (my personal hell) running laps. Every now and then, when I see the word “hustle” I can’t help think about that class and running laps in our indoor gym.
I can still hear my teacher’s shouts of “Hustle, ladies! Hustle!” reverberating off the rafters on the ceiling. I think of being out of breath. I think of sweating. I think of my legs hurting and my shoe being kind of untied. I think What should be doing with my hands? I think “In 13 laps, I’m done… In 8 laps… In 4… In 2… Just one more lap…”
Spoiler alert, I was never a good runner. I never did discover what I should be doing with my hands. (Do you put them in your pockets? Do the limp T-Rex arms thing?) And when I was running those laps and hearing “hustle” I honestly wanted to die.
I wasn’t terribly out of shape, but the thought of running laps was absolutely miserable to me. Why? Because I didn’t like it. When my teacher would tell us to hustle, I would get anxious and uncomfortable. I didn’t want to do it, I didn’t want to hustle for a couple of laps on a gym floor. I simply did not give a shit about running. I invested more energy into just getting through it until it was over than I did in at actually doing the thing.
Hit the Forward button on your remote now.
When I hear hustle today, I think about exactly where I am as I type these words. Right now, I’m in my PJs, my husband snoozing beside me. Soundproof headphones playing white noise. Just me and my laptop: writing.
This is what hustling looks like to me now.
It looks likes the late hours I steal away after I’ve completed the work I needed to do for my day job, after I’ve hugged my babies goodnight, after I’ve caught an episode or two of The Office. It looks like the work I put into my writing, postponing sleep for a couple more hours just so I can type out a few extra lines. It looks like the time I’ve carved out in between my other responsibilities to explore my passion.
It looks like no to little sleep. It looks like I’m about to burn out. It looks like work, because it is. But to me, it is so worth it.
As you work to discover your passions, you’re going to find moments where you are working far too late. You’re going to ask yourself, is this work worth it? Is this going to pay off for me in the end?
Well, let’s find out.
Think about the last time you felt yourself hustling.
As you worked hard, worked late, did you find yourself setting goals to help you get through it? Something like, “After 3 emails I’ll be done.” Or “Only 15 minutes and I can stop?”
Do you have a constant thought of “The sooner I finish, the sooner it’s over, the less I have to do tomorrow?”
Got news for you, sister. If you’re nodding your head yes, this is the kind of hustling that’s not worth the effort. Pushing yourself to work more, to work longer, to work harder on something that you absolutely are not happy to be working so much on is only a recipe for making yourself miserable.
If the main thought of your hustle is that you can’t wait to stop hustling, guess what you don’t like it. You don’t give a shit about it and it’s better for you to invest that time and effort into something you do actually care about doing.
We women have been programmed to push ourselves to outperform in the workplace. We work far too hard to make ourselves seem more valuable and irreplaceable than our male counterparts.
But here’s a hard truth for ya: You don’t actually get credit for the energy that you voluntarily invest in a job outside of normal business hours. When your boss sits down at the end of the quarter to review your performance, they’ll be looking at the work you produced, not when you produce it. Your boss will not say “This report was so much better because she worked herself to death to make it!” Your boss doesn’t care if you worked until 10 when he stopped checking emails at 5:30 with the rest of society.
If you find your mind scape is following the pattern of my brain during laps in high school, it’s probably not worth you working yourself to death. Find the time and hours in your work day to get your work done so you don’t have to torture yourself when you’re on your own time.
There are never enough hours in the day, believe me I know. But if you don’t start setting boundaries to separate yourself from the work that does not fuel your internal Hustle fire, you’re never going to get that flickering flame into a roaring fire.
So how do you know you’re hustling for the right reasons?
Easy. Are you working harder, working longer because you really want to? Are you finishing up a project at midnight because you’re so excited about it that you can’t wait until tomorrow to work on it?
Whatever your reason is for putting in the work, (and this should be hella obvious) you should like working for it. You should care. You should care more than anyone. You should give a lot of shits about it.
We wouldn’t call our passions our hustles if we weren’t working. You should be exhausted. You should be sacrificing your time and sleep to get to the end. You should find that the work that keeps you up late and typing away furiously at your keyboard, is something that makes you happy. But, through that exhaustion and work you put in, you should get so much fulfillment and happiness out of it.
Hustling means you give no fucks and lots of shits. You hustle because you want it. You hustle because you need it. You hustle because no one cares but you. Because no one cares MORE than you. Because no one gives a shit more than you.
Going back to the tweet that caught my attention, the poster is absolutely right. You shouldn’t put in the work if you’re not getting paid. You will hustle your entire life and no matter how much time you invest in hustling for your passion or your job, you should always get something out of it
You may get paid in quality conversations with friends, a sense of fulfillment, time to yourself and yes, sometimes even real-life dollars. No matter what method of payment, you should clearly see benefits and rewards for the time you’ve spent hustling for the things you give a shit about.
If you’ve found your passion, get to it girl! Burn that midnight oil. Strain your eyes. Drink a crap ton of coffee until your hyped up at 4 a.m. working and writing and thinking about your big huge heart-pumping ideas.
It’s called a hustle, sweetheart. Get to it.