When you first start out on this path of creating your livelihood online, there are way too many voices giving advice that doesn’t pertain to you. You’re thoughtful, deep-thinking, and mindful in your approach to life, and your business should be no different. Even talk of mindfulness has become mixed up in the conversation about online business; ironic when it’s something that should remain sacred and meaningful to each person separately.
I’m sick of the glorification surrounding “the hustle.” Just a quick look through Instagram or Twitter has you breaking out in hives because it looks like everyone is trying to one-up each other with a “hustle all day, every day” mentality. We got into this in the first place so we wouldn’t have to work like slaves and so we could actually enjoy our lives. Giving it all you have in productive bursts and then stopping when you need to is not weak-willed, it’s enlightened.
Think about that last job you had (or still have). What did you hate about it? I bet one of the aspects you couldn’t stand is that you had to pull long hours for tasks that didn’t contribute to real growth. Don’t repeat those same patterns with your own business. Filling time you think you should be working with an endless list of to-dos or tasks may seem important, but in the end, busy work isn’t going to contribute to your brand and business’ real growth.
I don’t know about you, but I left working for other people so I could do my best when I was on (even when I don’t totally feel like it), and quit working when it’s pointless to do so. I’ve been in numerous arguments with employers over the simple fact that they need not micro-manage me, but instead get out of my way so I can do my thing and make them more money.
I’ve always rebelled against the status quo, and now I’m making it my mission to rebel against the stressful approach to building a creative livelihood in hopes that you can see that it can be done another way.
Running yourself ragged is not the key to success, despite what we have been told our entire lives. Good work ethic has been fed to us as “eyes on your paper, head down, doing SOMETHING, ANYTHING.” I think the new definition of good work ethic needs to be knowing when to say enough is enough, and getting on with being human when our minds can’t push any further.
The industrial era is over, the freelance revolution is here. Why are we still living by the rules that were imposed by the companies of the last century in order to “keep up productivity.” There’s no reason to impose these asinine schedules when we work for ourselves in order to keep up with the rat race.
As Mary Schmich wrote at the end of the last century in the now-famous advice article for graduating youth:
Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.
Falling into the trap of comparison hustle is just another popularity contest that doesn’t need to be won. What I see all around is brilliant women that are STILL competing with each other, trying to out-hustle the next one. Hopefully, this is a byproduct of youth, and they will learn that finding balance is the true answer to freedom, not enslaving yourself with shackles of your own making.
It’s time to hold those who treat themselves with self-care in high regard for their ability to balance the craziness of starting an online business with, ya know, living. We don’t come out of the gate like that, however, it can take a while of trial and error to find our own rhythm and sense of self that allows us to do this. And that’s ok.
I want to offer you an alternative to all the noise out there that tells you to work 12-15 hour days or you won’t succeed. The truth is, you won’t succeed if you are burned out and stressed all the time.
Don’t just take my word for it. A couple of my favorite people on the internet who are building their livelihood online are Jen Carrington and Erica Midkiff. Although I know they struggle like the rest of us, they manage to do it with a certain grace I admire.
I asked a simple question:
What advice would you give new creative entrepreneurs about finding balance and calm in their work style? How do you do this while building your own online business?
What I got back is nothing short of gold.
My best advice would be to build a business around the lifestyle you want to be living. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that they need to work alongside each other if we want any chance of finding balance along the way. Don’t glorify being busy, instead work smart and give it 100% – even if some days that just looks like 4 hours of work and others it may look like 14. Never feel guilty about taking time off – the more you take care of yourself, the more you can then take care of your business. Take the time to figure out a routine that works for you, and then stay flexible and evolve with it as you evolve and change too. Whatever you do, make sure you define your own hustle. Take business at your own pace, instead of trying to keep up with a pace that can’t serve you in the long run.
– Jen Carrington, Creative Coach for Online Entrepreneurs
To me, finding balance and calm in your work style comes down to truly listening to yourself. We all find ourselves unconsciously listening to everyone else first—looking for new trends, devouring blog posts and Instagram and Twitter and Facebook and Periscope like crazy, looking for the magic answer, looking for the perfect formula, looking for ways to make it easier or better or faster (or whatever).
But so many of the answers are already inside of you. Look to your own strengths and skills and talents and wisdom. Figure out who you are, what you know, and how you can help. Then run all your decisions through that filter. You may be able to make an impact on a certain platform or through a certain medium—but do you want to? Do you have time for it when you consider all the other things you’re doing?
My business has changed so much as I’ve started doing this for myself (and for my clients). I truly believe you’ll make a bigger impact—and enjoy your life and your work more—if you base your business decisions on what is right for you first (your time, your talents, and your life). It’s hard work but it’s completely worth it!
–Erica Midkiff, Content Coach for Creatives
My hope is that we are embarking on a new kind of revolution of balancing our creative work and being human along with our technological progress. We see it happening all around us, but there is still a long way to go.
Mindfulness, finding the stillness in our core, and producing from a place of genuine intention is the real path to finding freedom in ourselves and how we make a living.
Be kind to yourself. Don’t let the guidelines that are dictated to you inform how you run your professional life. YOU are in charge now. Don’t lose sight of that. Sure, it’s more difficult to write the rules yourself, but hey, that’s why we struck out on our own in the first place, right?
So instead of hustling all day every day, Lets. Just. Be.