Few career perspectives have permeated mainstream culture in the last 20 years more than hustle. The idea that it’s both fashionable and lucrative to pursue multiple income streams, rake in that coin, and project the image that you’re a go-getter. Once a derogatory business term, hustle is now an aspiration, a means to have what you want in life, and a way to reclaim control over your destiny.
In recent years, however, hustle is now being seen as the villain, the toxic origin point of rising levels of burnout. Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian has bemoaned the rise of “hustle porn,” and an essay from Anne Helen Petersen in BuzzFeed News reported how burnout became ubiquitous seemingly overnight.
Burnout can stop ambition dead in its tracks, and a year of stay-at-home directives probably hasn’t helped. The relentless commingling of work and home spaces has continued to blur the lines on boundaries, with some companies planning to implement semi-permanent work-from-home setups.
Burnout is bad. But to say you shouldn’t push yourself is to turn a blind eye to the ambitions of starry-eyed founders and executives. Am I really going to convince Jack Ma that a 9-9-6 workweek is overrated and summer Fridays are where it’s at? A little hustle can be a good thing, and you need more than a little to stay ahead of your competition. So how should you set eye-popping goals and keep your fire burning bright without running yourself into the ground?