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When the #hustle becomes valuable (and when it’s just busy work)

(OPINION EDITORIAL) What does a healthy hustle look like? And how can you tell if you’re just wasting your time?


Directionless busyness

You’ve all seen it; the inspirational Instagram selfies and Facebook statuses, rife with phrases like “building my brand”, “rise and grind” or “I’m just getting started.” It’s part of the hustle mentality, and we’ve covered it extensively here at American Genius. We wondered, is this glorification productive, or is it enabling directionless busyness?

There’s plenty of proof to the latter. Money Saving Mom, a notable blogger, wrote about stepping away from the hustle awhile back. After hitting a major burnout point, she realized she was trying to do too much (most of it busy work), and very little of it gave her any joy. Furthermore, she elaborates in another post, that hustling can fixate your mindset on the “more” of everything, when “enough” is plenty.

Whether you’re running a company or working a bunch of side gigs, it’s pretty clear that the balance of #hustle has gone way off the rails. But, does it have to be

What does a healthy hustle look like?

Choose joy

A lot of the #hustle pipedream is rooted in the idolization of entrepreneurship and its perceived benefits (being your own boss, building and creating something on your own, etc). More than ever, people believe that everyone should want to and try to be a business owner and do whatever they can to work towards that.

However, the Gary Vaynerchucks of the world will tell you that not everyone is cut out to do this. Why? Because not everyone loves it. I’m not talking about a comfortable enjoyment here, I’m talking driven to your core to seek this out and win at it because of the whole-body fulfillment it gives you.

Sometimes, that isn’t business. For you, maybe it’s playing guitar or knitting sweaters for armadillos. Focusing on what makes you happy will pay off better in the long run. Even after working a 9-5 job, I still make time to write here. Why? Because I love to research and write things, something I don’t get to do at my day job. The extra time spent makes me happy, and that makes the effort all the more worthwhile.

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Have a goal in mind

Losing your sense of direction will kill your motivation.

Always keep in mind the reason why you’re working the gigs that you are.

I work in digital marketing full-time, but I still work with clients on the side. Why? What works for one type of business doesn’t work for others. I want to develop a full set of SEO skills, so I work with clients who need certain solutions to get the practice.

If your side gig is less related to your professional life, like driving for Uber or selling MLM products, ask yourself, what’s the end game here? Write it on a sticky note, and check in with yourself every once in awhile to ensure you’re on track. Heck, get an accountability buddy if you can.

In short, don’t be busy for the sake of being busy, or because some “motivational” Instagram says so.

Your time is valuable, so devote it something valuable, intentional and fulfilling.


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Written By

Born in Boston and raised in California, Connor arrived in Texas for college and was (lovingly) ensnared by southern hospitality and copious helpings of queso. As an SEO professional, he lives and breathes online marketing and its impact on businesses. His loves include disc-related sports, a pint of a top-notch craft beer, historical non-fiction novels, and Austin's live music scene.

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