Note: this affects people at the highest levels in every profession. After writing this, I’ve come upon stories like this, this, and this.
The Best Advice for Young Entrepreneurs & Graduates: A Lesson From Hustle Culture
This advice is for everyone out there who is currently “hustling” or about to start. For anyone entering the “real world” and for those a little further along: don’t wait until it’s too late to learn to take care of yourself — physically and mentally. You are the only one in charge of your well-being because no one (seriously, no one) is going to put you first.
For the Graduates, Dropouts & Young Entrepreneurs
You are going to receive a ton of advice on how important it is to hustle your face off. Advice on how you should be meeting anyone and everyone, while also putting in countless hours because you are young and you’ll recover quickly.
While this is definitely the time to grind, network, develop a strong work ethic, and try out different paths without longterm career consequences, it is also the time to figure out what keeps you sane. If you make yourself sick and don’t take care of yourself, you’re going to hope that the next job you get has a fantastic insurance plan.
Honest truth: It never gets easier. The more you climb any ladder (corporate or entrepreneurial), the more responsibilities you will have, the more people who will count on you, and the less time to focus on your needs. This is why it is so important to figure out how to “do you” now.
Whether it’s reading, meditation, exercise, a hobby, seeing your family, spending time with you significant other, or just making sure you take some time outside, I can already promise that the (reasonable) time used to unwind can only enhance your quality of life. Please take your vacations.
My last few years working in a “hustle culture” environment have taught me a thing or two about priorities. The most important lesson:
You should know what your priorities even are.
Practice becoming self-aware about what matters to you and how you are physically and mentally feeling. At the end of the day, no matter how great your boss or co-workers are, you need to check in with yourself to make sure you are doing right by you. I’ve witnessed many friends and colleagues sacrifice their well-being for what even they would consider an uneven tradeoff — losing important relationships, missing out on major life events, and/or allowing their health to obviously deteriorate in exchange for some extra hours that could potentially lead to some extra dollars.
You are lucky to be early enough in your careers where you can develop those habits and also figure out the type of work culture that is best for you. Learn how you work best. For example, there are many work environments where you might feel the pressure to stay late for no other reason than everyone else is staying late (even if they aren’t actually doing work). You might love that because you’re all “in it together.”
On the flip side, you might really love working from home or being at a company (or starting a company) where you get to leave when you have finished what you needed to do for the day. These are personal preferences you should take the time to figure out as early as possible so you can maximize your overall health and happiness. No one else can do this work for you.
For Others Later in Their Careers
The process above is still the process. It’s not too late. It never is. It’s testing and learning what actually works for you versus what you think should work for you. There’s a reason every airplane video advises you to put your mask on first: you’re useless to anyone else if you can’t help yourself.
No matter where you are in your career, you should be evaluating every few months what your priorities are and working with those in mind. Priorities are going to shift and change, but making sure you’re feeling well mentally and physically will always be near the top of the list. You’re the only one in control of that.