Hustle and Grind, No thank you

Let me ask you this, What image comes to your mind when you hear another photographer say that you need to hustle and grind to be a success? That you have to put in many hours a day, stay up late at night editing, miss time with your family? What is the visual you see with those statements??? Well, I don’t have a window into your brain but I can imagine that what you see is NOT a peaceful sunset on the beach with a mojito in hand listening to the sound of the waves, feeling the breeze off the ocean, and hearing the steel drum band off in the distance.

Kind of like this????


The idea that you have to work yourself to the bone to be a success is a belief that many, many people hold on to as fact. And many educators who are very successful, promote this idea that the harder you work the more successful you will be. But guess what? it simply isn’t true. I can’t say that I work any harder than the housekeeper at a large hotel or the server at my favorite restaurant. They hustle and grind with the best but they aren’t getting ahead.

Hustle culture is toxic and will ruin your business.

We see it every year. In fact, I have been guilty of this. When the busy season comes around every September and October the photographers are busy with session and in an effort to commiserate with others, they post in groups or on their social media how tired they are, how their kids never see them, or how dirty their house is. And these things are posted as if they are a badge of honor for all the long hours they are putting in. Almost to say to the world, “Hey look at how successful I am, I have to stay up until 3:00 in the morning in order to get all this stuff done.”

Our society seems to hold a place of honor for those who work the hardest and longest. Like there is some sort of imaginary finish line at the end of this fake race and you get a medal if you win. There is no winner and there is no race. You don’t get to the end of your life thinking that you should have worked harder. That you should have sat in front of your computer longer. There is no reward for snapping at your kids because you are tired and/or are missing all the family weekend activities. There is no medal for having your partner resent you because you spend more time in front of the computer after dinner than with them.

What many people don’t realize with the hustle and grind mindset, the longer you do it, the more you start to think you HAVE to act that way. Your mind starts to think that this is the way it should be. And in really extreme situations of stress or excitement, your brain releases those fight or flight chemicals that can be good for the short term but aren’t great in the long term. By continuing to operate in the constant state of hustle, we are actually training our brain that we MUST work in the constant state of hustle.

But here is the deal, we didn’t start our business to be stressed out and always grinding the hours away. Most of us started our business because we enjoyed our art AND we wanted to be able to provide that for other people. We probably all would like our businesses to be fun. I know I do. I love laughing at work with my clients, meeting awesome people AND delivering beautiful artwork that they cry over. That is the fun stuff and I want to do that all day long.

When you first started your business you probably had so many things that you were rushing to get done. A perfect website, social media strategy, awesome camera skills, etc. . . you may have started working really long hours because you began to feel overwhelmed at the length of the to do list. That can lead to two things. You either just keep hustling to make things happen OR you become paralyzed not knowing even where to start. You know the to do list never seems to get shorter, and some things just keep rolling from week to week and never get crossed off.

But here is the deal, who says we have to have things done by a certain time? Overwhelm comes because there is a timeline that you feel you need to reach to be a success. But if you are setting the time line, then give yourself a little grace and make that timeline realistic enough so you don’t lose all your friends in the process.

I hate staying up late working and missing time with my family. This is not how I want to live. If that is what it takes for the company to get off the ground, I’m not doing it any longer. And I think the hustle and grind mentality is really common when we are just starting a business. Maybe it comes up because we are working another job and we need to put in those late hours and missed time with our kids in order to try to create something awesome for ourselves. But the fact is that eventually your baby start up company needs to group up and you need to find a way to plan your work and schedule so you can have the personal time you need to recharge and connect. It simply isn’t healthy to work all the time and we are SOOOO incredibly lucky that we get to create the kind of business we want and what works best for us.

So how did I get off that H&G wheel? Well there are a couple things you can do.

1.  Stop thinking that business is supposed to be this way. It isn’t. Those who promote this lifestyle are not the ones who are running your business or shaping your life. They might choose to work until dawn every night but if you look deeper into their lives you might see they are several times divorced or promoting unhealthy lifestyle choices. They never talk about anything but business because their life has been totally consumed by it. I talk to A LOT of business owners and NO ONE has ever said, I want to work so much so that in the near future, I will have no outside friends, my spouse will hate me, and I will miss all my kids activities.. That just doesn’t happen.

2.  Give yourself some grace on your timelines. Unless there is a client on the other end of the project or a government imposed timeline for something, you have complete control on when you need to get things done. Understand that running a small business requires that we wear a lot of different hats. Be kind when setting up your self imposed deadlines so that you do not let that feeling of overwhelm creep in.

3.  On the other hand, be firm with yourself. Before you can complain about not having enough time to do what you need to do, you need to be honest with yourself about how you spend your time. Do a time audit. Take a real look into how you spend your time. I bet you waste more time than you think doing things that aren’t moving the needle in your business. Need more help on that? Click here to get my quick and easy plan on doing a time audit in your business.

4.  Hire help. Really, even if you think you can’t afford it (Within reason, don’t go hire a full time assistant if you have no money coming in). Hire help. It could be as simple as getting a babysitter a few hours a week or having someone come in and fold your household laundry once a week. (yes, you can do that) A few years ago my home had become very disorganized and I was having a real problem working on this myself. So, for a period of 6 weeks I had a woman come in for four hours every Friday to go through every single closet in my home. She organized, took things to Goodwill, threw things away, and ran simple errands. It was WONDERFUL. Those four hours a week was some of the best money I spent that year. Not only were the closets perfectly organized which was worth the money, the emotional cloud of guilt and overwhelm that hung over my head because I could never seem to get around to this project, lifted.
You see, when we live in a situation of overwhelm, other things start to creep in. We begin to feel frustrated, helpless, and shame. Like really, how hard is it to clean out a closet? The actual task itself isn’t hard at all. There was no reason I NEEDED to hire someone to do it. Ultimately, I didn’t want to do it. Once I realized that my skills were better at making the money to hire the person vs. doing the actual work, I could release myself of that guilt and shame.

5.  Develop systems. In our business and homes there are things that need to be done on a regular basis. Develop systems for them. Systems are great because it takes the guesswork out of how a task will be done each time AND after we create a process that works, we can easily pass it off to someone else. Want to have someone else do your product ordering? After you do it consistently, record a LOOM video of you showing step by step how the task is done while you narrate the instructions. Then when you hire someone for the task, go over it one time with them in person and give them the video to watch when they have questions. That saves you time and energy. Setting something like this up is easy, doesn’t take too much time from your schedule and allows you to create a library of training videos for your business that you can use as a part of your Operations Manual. (See, now you are thinking like a big business owner).

I think sometimes we forget why we got in business. Or better yet, we fell into a business that we weren’t planning on having at all. Then we discovered that we could probably make a living at it. Then the true realization set in of how much work we were going to do to just get it off the ground, let alone become profitable. Building a business is not easy. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that it is. But while you are building it, don’t buy into the idea that you need to work 24/7 for years and years. You do not need to stay up until 3:00 in the morning. You do not need to buy into the idea that if you just work harder than the next person you will be a success. We know that isn’t true so please stop telling yourself that. Work smarter. Create Systems. Outsource. Most importantly, give yourself grace.

Hustle and Grind??? No thank you.

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