It feels like every millennial woman I know is all about that hustle.
We have full-time hustles at our day jobs. We post on social media… a lot. We have side hustles. Side hustles that turned into full-time jobs. Part-time blogs that we do at night in bed after our partners have fallen asleep, or even full-time blogs because we’ve hustled our asses off for years. We’re taking classes outside of work to get promoted in our day jobs so we can someday work for ourselves. We’re freelancers with multiple clients or looking for side gigs. We’re sales reps for Younique or Glossier or Young Living Essential Oils. We have products we’ve made with our bare hands or sketched for years or designed on our own in software we learned by ourselves.
We HUSTLE. HARD.
But we also have debt from school/cars/life, credit card debt from living paycheck to paycheck or from investing in said side hustle, and rent that’s $2000/month on a $70k/year salary.
So we hustle even harder.
Sometimes we splurge on Instagram-worthy vacations or designer handbags, but mostly we’re just trying to keep our heads above water so we can support our passions and not go crazy doing so. We’re trying to get promotions or start our own empires. We’re posting on social media every day, we’re always creating, we’re always selling whatever it is we’re selling.
You are always on the go. Doing it all, and looking good doing it.
But you are so, so tired.
I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables. Slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars.
Yes, we were taught that we can do anything we want, but we were also taught to work for it as fast as we possibly can.
I got inspired to write this post after a few conversations I had, and then I read an article from my longtime internet crush Giulia at Palm Trees & Pelegrinos wrote this post Dear Millennials, Stop Rushing Through Life. YOU HAVE TO READ IT:
We’re the group that’s used to rushing. Move at the speed of light and social media. Be something, do something, become something. We check things off our life list like we do our groceries. Avocados? Check. Career Move? Check. Kale? Check. We’re always onto the next big thing. In a world of Instagram, we spend our time trying to one-up ourselves and those around us.
We’re busy being, doing and becoming. But what about that “little” thing called life? Did we take the time to appreciate what we have and be proud of where we are? What’s the point of doing if we’re not living? Live gratefully, live in the moment, and live in a way where you look back at the view behind you before you move forward. I often hear a saying something along the lines of “life passes us by while we’re busy being busy.”
You Can Burn Out, And Trust Me, You Don’t Want To
To burn out is to ruin your health or become completely exhausted through overwork.
Anyone is susceptible to burning out, but for those of you who are entrepreneurs by nature, you are even more likely to burn out.
I did it last year.
I had stepped away from a full-time role in Marketing to focus on Ecommerce Copywriting and Brand Strategy. I had three amazing clients, I was on track to make over $100k, and was building my personal brand.
Except all I was doing was working.
I would forget to eat, not sleep, not drink water. I had every minute of my day schedule so I could stay on top of everything.
And then I cracked. Hard.
In October of 2017, I started having panic attacks from migraines exacerbated by stress and chronic pain. Things got worse from there, but let’s just say I burned out.
In life, there are a few basic rules you must follow if you want to survive. If you want to live, and thrive, you have to find a way to work these things into your life.
- You have to sleep.
- You have to eat.
- You have to drink. Preferably water.
Yet I wasn’t doing any of those.
When in the throes of full-fledged burnout, you are no longer able to function effectively on a personal or professional level.
Burn out is a state of chronic stress. It doesn’t happen overnight—you don’t wake up one morning and suddenly you’re burnt out (but you might be feeling ready to quit your job). It’s a slow sizzle that creeps up on you. With burnout, comes physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.
Luckily, bodies and minds do give us warnings, and if you know what to look for, you can recognize it before it’s too late.
Signs you might be burned out, aka physical and emotional exhaustion:
Chronic fatigue. In the early stages, you may feel a lack energy and feel tired most days. In the latter stages, you feel physically and emotionally exhausted, drained, and depleted, and you may feel a sense of dread for what lies ahead on any given day.
Insomnia. As exhausted as you are, you can’t sleep. In the early stages, you may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep one or two nights a week. In the latter stages, insomnia may turn into a persistent, nightly problem.
Forgetfulness and trouble focusing. The problems may get to the point where you can’t get your work done and everything begins to pile up.
Physical symptoms. Physical symptoms may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal pain, dizziness, fainting, and/or headaches.
Increased illness. Because your body is depleted, your immune system becomes weakened, making you more vulnerable to infections, colds, flu, and other immune-related medical problems.
Loss of appetite. You may not feel hungry and may skip a few meals (likely because you’re “too busy to eat”). The thing is… you need food to function.
Anxiety. You may experience mild symptoms of tension, worry, and edginess. As you move closer to burnout, the anxiety can be so serious that it interferes in your ability to work productively and may cause problems in your personal life.
Depression. You may feel mildly sad for no apparent reason, occasionally hopeless, and you may experience feelings of guilt, and worthlessness as a result.
Anger. At first, it may present as tension and irritability for no reason. It could turn into angry outbursts and serious arguments at home and at work.
Loss of enjoyment. At first, it might be subtle like not wanting to go to work or being eager to leave for the day beyond normal feelings. You may try to avoid projects and figure out ways to escape work all together (extended coffee break, anyone?).
Pessimism. Negative self-talk and/or negative speaking to others.
Isolation. From not wanting to socialize (i.e., not wanting to go out to lunch; avoiding the kitchen when you know someone is in there) to becoming pissy when someone speaks to you. You might even go to work in early or leave late to avoid interactions with co-workers.
Detachment. Detachment is a general sense of feeling disconnected.. basically, you’ve stopped giving a fuck. You might call in sick regularly, stop returning calls and emails, or regularly come in late with little regard for what happens to you or your job.
Feelings of apathy and hopelessness. It presents as a general sense that nothing is going right or nothing matters.
Irritability. Irritability often stems from feeling ineffective, unimportant, useless, and an increasing sense that you’re not able to do things as efficiently or effectively as you once did.
Lack of productivity and poor performance. Despite long hours, chronic stress prevents you from being productive, which often results in incomplete projects and an ever-growing to-do list with no end in sight.
If you are experiencing these symptoms and are working so hard that your anxiety and stress become unmanageable, you need to slow the fuck down.
How To Slow Down
Look, you need to slow down. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a full-time employee, you can’t be ON all the time. I’m not here to be a life coach or to sell you some amazing online course to stop you from being miserable… I just know these are the things I do to make sure I don’t burn out again. I learned that once you’ve burned out once, you are even more likely to burn out at a different job.
- Set times to work. If you find yourself struggling to stayed focused on one task, work in small sprints of 20 minutes. Set a timer for 20 minutes and then take a break when it goes off. Repeat.
- Give yourself days off.
- Don’t work all weekend.
- Take a fucking break.
- Take a walk. Even if it’s just 15 minutes.
- Go to a yoga class, stretch. Do something where you move. Schedule it.
- Did you eat?
- Leave work on time.
- Remember that no one is going to die on your watch and it’s okay to slow down (unless you’re a doctor or a nurse then via con dios).
- Stop giving so many fucks.
- Hire an intern.
- Ask for help.
- Take a step back. It doesn’t all need to be done today.
- Quit your job. It’s not worth it.
Just Say No
Like most high-achievers, you’re probably used to doing everything you’re asked to do, and doing it really well, but each time you add a new commitment or responsibility to your plate, you’re adding stress into your life. Resist the urge to take on more, even if it’s a small task. Say no.
Work Healthier, Not Harder
Remember that you are enough. Your self worth or success is not dictated by the amount of work you do or content you create or doing more than the next gal. If you burn out, no one wins.
If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, this should be a wake-up call that you may be on a dangerous path. Take some time to honestly assess the amount of stress in your life and create an action plan. Burnout isn’t like the flu; it doesn’t go away after a few weeks unless you make some changes in your life. And as hard as that may seem, it’s the smartest thing to do. And I KNOW you’re smart.
The key is discovering your own stress-relieving program; one that works for you and your lifestyle. The hardest part is making the commitment to incorporate it into your life, but if you do, you’ll find yourself crossing over to a safer and healthier road where you can rediscover the passion and soul.
Try To Relax
Nowadays, taking baths and putting on a face mask is trending, but there’s a lot more to relaxation than that. No one other than you should define what is relaxing. You need to find what works for you.
You can try progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing exercises, meditation apps, coloring, journaling, reframing negative thoughts into positive, yoga, warm baths, and massage.
Take A Vacation
One idea that has worked for a lot of high-achievers is “extreme vacations.” Ever thought of a solo trip to Japan? Snorkeling through caves in Mexico? Playing with monkeys in Bali? Extreme vacations are designed for people who love challenges; you need to be quick on your feet when you’re traveling (both literally and figuratively). When is the last time you took a real vacation? One that rejuvenates your spirit and connects you with your soul. You deserve it.
Take care of yourself first. The work can come later.