Grow Your Business

When more “hustle” isn’t the answer

This guy asked me for advice at our Forefront conference:

“I’m working on a side business in my spare time, and my goal is to grow it enough to replace my salary in the next 6 months. I’m frustrated that it’s not happening as fast as I want.

What would you recommend?”

My response:

“Let’s take it step by step.

I don’t care about doing it fast. I care about doing it right.”

There are a million other people out there who will teach you how to make an overnight business. I’m not one of them.

But if you want to know how to build something beautiful — something with craftsmanship, something you’re proud of, something that lasts, and yes, something that’s highly profitable — the reality is that takes time.

And it’s time worth spending.

But that doesn’t mean you have to put off having fun until “some day” so you can focus on your business. You don’t have to buy into the messages you hear about “hustling” and “going all in.”

You can work hard and build a profitable business — and still have a life.

Here’s how I did it.

If you’re not having fun, your business is dead

I don’t care what anyone says. Starting a business takes a ton of time.

You start carving out little bits of time you didn’t even realize you had. An extra 30 minutes here. Staying in on a weekend night there.

I remember a friend who I hadn’t seen in a month texting me in NYC to hang out on a Friday night. I texted him back: “Yo, can’t do it tonight. Got a meeting.” That night, I was supposed to have a call at 9pm…which got delayed until 9:30…and then the guy canceled on me. Here I am sitting around at 10pm on a Friday night — and I got dropped.

It’s moments like that that can be really discouraging. Is all this work worth it?

What I learned was that it’s not enough to work hard, write the best blog posts, or create awesome products. I learned to love craftsmanship later — but in the early days, the thing that got me through the hard times was JUST PLAIN HAVING FUN.

Go back and look at some of my early posts (like this and this). Man, I was cracking jokes, making fun of terrible advice, calling people out, and just having a good time. I didn’t take this IWT thing seriously. For god’s sake, it was called “I Will Teach You To Be Rich.”

I used funny comments as my barometer of success, not money. (Revenue is the outcome, not the driver. It’s the marker that you’re doing something right.) That’s when I was in my sweet spot.

This is a total reframe to the “HUSTLE ALL THE TIME” advice you see out there. If I was having a good time, my readers were having a good time.

You see, if I’m honest with myself, I’m the type of person who can spend all my time working. One of my dreams is to be on a tropical island, stay in a luxury hotel with high-speed internet…and stay inside all day and play online. I know, I know.

But when I started this site, I realized I could easily end up working all the time and miss out on actually getting out of my apartment, exploring the city, seeing friends. The last thing I wanted was to become glued to my computer. So I pushed myself to have fun outside of work, too.

  • I made the 1-hour commute to San Francisco from my apartment in Mountain View 3-4 times a week to hang out with friends. (Eventually I moved to SF.)
  • When I later moved to New York, I made a list of cocktail bars and hit them with friends. Even if I felt tired, I knew I’d end up having a good time.
  • I made a point of seeing my family as much as possible.

I knew that I had to take risks to build my business. But the biggest risk was letting my life take a backseat to my work. And that’s a risk I refused to take.

“I built my business, but I never built my life”

One of the most interesting phrases I’ve read recently was this one:

“Build the life you want, then save for it.”

It came from a guy who got obsessed with saving money instead of actually living life. Look what he said:

“I look back at the past few years of my life and at my bank account and I would gladly give away a hefty chunk of it and work longer if it meant I could have experienced more of the world and found more passions I could have for the rest of my life, especially with someone I had loved so much. I built my savings, but I never built my life.”

This happens in business too.

We get obsessed with making our business successful ASAP, like the guy who asked me for advice. The big numbers, the big revenues.

So what do we do?

We “buckle down.” We start “hustling” (puke). A lot of us stop going out with friends. We stop having new experiences, the very experiences that we can write about, that energize us, that make us realize why we’re doing this in the first place! We stay in and work — taking pride in the idea that we’re just “weirdos” that most people can’t understand.

You often hear that entrepreneurs are the people who are willing to work 80 hours a week for themselves in order to avoid working 40 hours a week for someone else.

This sounds admirable, doesn’t it? It’s heroic to make sacrifices that other people aren’t willing to make, so that you can achieve what others can’t.

But if you have to convince yourself it’s fun, maybe it’s not really fun.

I don’t mind working 80 hours a week during sprints. I’ve done it before, and when I have to, I’ll do it again. But that’s a sprint. Do that all the time and you’ll break.

This is where “blending” your work and life pays off. It’s actually easy to put blinders on and work 80 hours a week. It’s much harder to think about how to blend work and relationships and travel and new experiences. No wonder so many people take a myopic view.

Real life is a marathon. You can have a great life AND grow a sizeable business. But it takes being thoughtful and refusing to defer what you really want until some day.

In other words: Build the life you want, then work for it. Don’t just hustle blindly or you’ll forget why you’re doing it.

I’ve never done an all-nighter

Here’s what I told the guy who asked for advice: If you’re waking up every day and it’s just a slog, something’s wrong. Look for ways to make building your business fun because the money will take a while. Did you know it took me 6 years to start making real money from my business?

Most people in the audience found this hard to believe. People get misled with stories about “overnight success” — but they also mislead themselves. For example, someone said, “Yeah, but I look at people like Nagina and Selena and Sarah Jones (successful GrowthLab students we’ve featured) and it just seems like their businesses were so effortless.” I know each of those students and their businesses took them years to grow. They faced every challenge you’re facing. The difference is they were patient. And they built in fun along the way.

Like a good relationship, it shouldn’t be that hard. Take a break if you have to. Focus on your job for a while and come back to your business later on. Get help from a coach or mentor or course. When the time is right, you’ll know.

Everybody wants to become successful overnight. But even the successes you admire didn’t happen that fast.

Similarly, when people start to realize how long it’s going to take, it’s common to latch onto the opposite idea — “OK, this is going to take years…I better get ready for the grind.” Yes, there are sacrifices you’ll have to make. But there’s no glory in working 12-18 hour days, missing out on your friends and family, and sleeping only 4 hours a night.

I’ve never done an all-nighter. In 5 years, I’ve missed fewer than 5 workouts because of work. And I can’t remember the last time I had to say no to hanging out with friends because of work. It would be easy to become a 1-dimensional entrepreneur. But I believe the only way to sustain yourself is to make sure you’re 3-dimensional — meaning you’re constantly enriching yourself with experiences inside and outside of work. Being a Top Performer doesn’t mean you have to be a workaholic.

It’s not about patiently gritting your teeth for years while you wait for success.

Top Performers demand more from their lives. Not just more money and success, but more fun, more relationships, and more experiences.

Let me give you one last quick example.

Recently, I was reading an interview with my favorite comedian, Aziz Ansari (star of “Parks and Recreation” and “Master of None”). The interviewer was asking him about his success and what he’s planning next.

Here’s his answer:

“I was talking to a friend of mine the other day. We both have more money than we ever imagined. And I was like, can you imagine if someone called us a few years ago and said, ‘All right, you’re going to have this much money when you’re this age. What are you gonna do with it?’ You would say all sorts of fantastical things, right? No one would say, ‘Oh, I would figure out how to make more money and keep working all the time.’

I LOVE it. Because he’s right. People don’t get into business so they can sit at their laptops and work all the time. I certainly didn’t!

This was a great reminder for me. I hope it’s valuable for you, too.

Sometimes I think we get so focused on our goals we forget about the big picture. We see other successful people and think, “I want that!” but don’t really know what’s happening behind the scenes.

Demand more of yourself.

  • Be realistic. Yes, you’re going to have to work hard and sacrifice a few things. Yes, it’s going to take time. Before you assume one of your heroes hit overnight success, find out the truth and set realistic expectations.
  • But be thoughtful: Do you really have to sacrifice your workouts? Or your time with friends?Are you just taking the easy way out by saying, “I can’t go tonight because I have to work?” Are you even getting work done at 10pm on a Friday?
  • Be proactive. What kind of life do you want? Design it today. Plan out your vacations for the year on January 1st. Decide how many times a week you want to go out. If you don’t, it won’t magically happen tomorrow. Tim Ferriss famously talked about mini-retirements today instead of a big retirement 40 years from now. Be proactive.

Now I’m curious: What are some of the messages you’ve heard from the entrepreneurship world that you’re realizing might not be true?

For example: “I have to HUSTLE ALL THE TIME.” Or, “I’ll get healthier later…for right now, I’m all in on business.”

I want to hear from you. Share the messages you think might not be true in the comments below.

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There Are 62 Comments

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Oh, thank god for you Ramit!
Hustle hustle hustle is all we hear all the time.
This year my partner and I experienced severe burnout from grinding and hustling. My health even took a toll (abusing caffeine and lack of sleep can cause cardic arrhythmia) and I realized that I had hit my physical limit.
Interestingly enough, our work suffers when we’re overstressed and grinding and hustling 24/7. Some people might be cut out for it, but we’re not those people.
Thank you again for saying this, more entrepreneurs need to hear it.

One of the comments I heard from a very well-known and respected entrepreneur was that if you work hard enough, you’ll get what you want from your business, and if you’re not willing to hustle your ass off you’re not going to make it. He said something like, “If you can get a lot done between 7:00 PM and 1:00 AM. And if you have kids, you can get a lot done between 9:00 PM and 3:00 AM.” That comment broke my heart. I was like, “WTF? When am I supposed to sleep?” It left me wondering if all the successful entrepreneurs out there are just making it because they’re burning the candle at both ends. I think that might be the case a lot of time, but I don’t know how anyone would be able to function on that little sleep for an extended period of time and actually be able to run a successful business like that.

Andrew Nelson

This is a divisive topic for me because I have trouble with balance but also because there is so much noise out there. I see people like Mark Cuban talk about how they read three hours a day, then I look at an Elon Musk talk and it looks like he hasn’t seen outside his office in 5 years or Gary Vaynerchuck who literally takes 30 minute taxis so he can work in the back seat rather than ride the subway. I get there is a min/max element here, but I feel like half the time when you are trying to build something you aren’t even sure if you are efficiently working on the right thing or if you are running into a dead end.

Ramit Sethi

Very good points. So where do you fall? What do you think the right answer is?

I think the truth is usually somewhere between extremes. The answer is probably cutting the activities that are a true waste. And always asking yourself the purpose of whatever it is you’re doing. It doesn’t all have to be about work, but it should all serve an important purpose.

Sounds like Gary V. Focusing on specific things that move the needle the most is way more efficient than ‘hustling all the time’ on less important things just to feel busy.

This message : hustling harder is not always the answer is something I am learning myself this past month.

I am a research scientist and also the main breadwinner for my home who also has a side hustle. That side hustle brings in around $1200-$1400 per month. A few months ago I was so down on myself because I was reading how other bloggers/side hustlers like myself were able to quit their jobs in months and started a pity party about “ONLY being able to make $1200 a month”.

I eventually snapped out of it and had to speak to myself about how plainly AMAZING $1200 was.

When I started following Ramit 4 years ago, I was in grad school and the thought of even making $200 extra per month seemed like heaven to me. And now I whine because I make over $1000 in my side hustle ?

*Rolls eyes at self*

Thanks for this post Ramit. And yes it is surprising to see it took you 6 years to start making money with yours ! Puts so many things in perspective for me.

Yes agree. Also find that the my most productive periods are the ones when I mix in more “fun” (as long as I leave in blocks of focused work) – and the quality is definitely better. have you ever thought about that very often the “long hours” seem to be more a way of managing the anxiety around being good enough/working hard enough – rather than actually accomplishing the desired outcome.

Thank you for yet another amazing article, Ramit!
I must confess I am also guilty of skipping workouts and social contacts because of work projects – yet, recently that’s been mainly in moments of inspiration when I absolutely HAVE to write it now because I don’t want to miss the brilliant ideas and momentum :)
Life is a journey, not a destination, so we certainly need to enjoy the trip :)

Ramit Sethi

Tweet/IG me a pic of your workout today — and your calendar showing your next 5 workouts. Let’s get back into it!

Sara La delfa

Hustling sucks. It sucks the energy out of you. It sucks the desire out of you. It sucks the passion and motivation from every aspect of your life. There are so many little changes that you can do NOW to make your life more fun and fulfilling, and they don’t require gigantic leaps. AND they’re actions that you can do for the rest of your life. Love your 9-5? Then keep doing it. Love your business? Then keep doing it. Change one little thing in your life and it will have compounded results in almost every area of your life. Like Nike says – Just do it.

Scott Turner

Thanks for this. It really is so easy to forget to really live life while you’re trying to start something new.

One lie that I’ve been telling myself is “I’ll focus on getting in shape when I have a more regular/larger income stream”. But I’ve been realizing lately, I can’t wait on that because being in shape effects my mental abilities which I need to do better work for my clients.

Time to hit the gym!

Ramit, you always bring it back home for me. I’ve burned out on soooooo many things because I fell into the “you have to hustle all the time” mindset. I preach to the kids I work with about being multi dimensional and not just an athlete like I did, and I’m doing it all over with this entrepreneurship thing. I didn’t start my side gig so I could “become an entrepreneur”, I started it so I could have a fucking life and enjoy myself! lol Fantastic post per usual Ramit!

You’re my favorite coach recently, RS.
You speak Truth. No B.S.

I know because I took 4 years off. Totally disconnected. Not even a smart phone. Read hundreds of the best tech & startup books for free. [Courtesy of the Broward County Library].

Walked on every beach on Florida. Visited every island in the Caribbean.

And, now I’m back with an awesome plan that would appeal to anyone that fits your description.

I once read an article by an entrepreneur who said that “our society has grown accustomed to demanding 2-day weekends” or something like that. His whole point was how “lazy” Western culture is, in our desire to have two days off – the thing that really irked me was that this guy was American himself. I would love to have more freedom and flexibility from the standard 9-5, but I don’t think I should have to drive myself insane in the process.

Ramit Sethi

Well, I agree that a lot of Western culture encourages laziness. But if you’re working hard and pushing towards your goals, there’s nothing wrong with taking a weekend.

Firstly, great post, Ramit. I love your work.

One comment I often hear that really gets on my nerves is: “I’ll sleep when I’m rich”. I imagine that anyone who follows that advice would probably spend all their time working, probably neglect their physical and mental health and eventually burn out and, quite ironically, have no other choice but to stop working so hard and rest (probably from a hospital bed).

Also, I totally agree that if you’re not having fun, your business is dead. I ended up getting rid of my first two websites earlier this year because I just had to be honest with myself and ask, from a reader’s perspective, would I honestly enjoy reading these posts that I wrote? If you wouldn’t enjoy working on it for 9 hours, imagine 9 years!

Ramit Sethi

The lack of sleep comes from a lack of ability to think creatively and set boundaries. Ironically, what they treasure and boast about is simply poor planning.

Thank you! All the advice about hustle, hustle, hustle and work your ass off is motivating, but for me… it almost creates cognitive dissonance, it grates against my natural instincts for happiness. There’s an intangible synergy that comes from a balanced life. When I’m relaxed, having fun, inspired by life and the world I live in, work becomes almost effortless and totally enjoyable. The quality of my work is higher and more alive. But if I fall into this workaholic trap, I start feeling drained, more distracted, bitter and unhappy, and that 100% bleeds over into the quality of my work. Thanks for the reminder, Ramit!

I started my own business 21 years ago developing and managing web sites for energy efficiency national non-profit organizations. I still have my first two clients. My son and I now work together. He’s the brains. Fifteen years ago at age 46 I had a heart attack. I decided then and there that life was short and I wasn’t going to wait until I retired to travel and enjoy life. I got my clients to start paying me and my expenses to be technical support and event photographer at their conferences. This gets me traveling to 10+ conferences per year in nice locations. Then we often tack on extra time before or after to explore the area. I’ve also found other opportunities to travel. I can still work, but I’m not working myself to death. I used to make more money, but it wasn’t worth it. This year I’ve traveled to Washington, DC, Orlando, Scottsdale, Sedona, Santa Fe, Santa Rosa and Point Arena, CA, Lake Tahoe, Salt Lake City, London, Steamboat Springs (3 times), Pagosa Springs, CO, Boston, Toronto, Beaver Creek, and Estes Park, CO (several times), New Orleans, Snowbird, UT, Atlanta, Puerto Vallarta, Las Vegas, Palm Springs, and Los Angeles. Life is good finding the Work/Life balance. I highly recommend it.

This article is brilliant and contains a lot of wisdom!! Business owners must love what they do and love the process! Thank you for putting this into words.

So true. Very well written! This came at a good time. I’ve learnt NOT to beat myself up and to enjoy the process. Still learning….

It’s easy to wake up one day and say -“Oh I’ll enjoy the slow pace and the process”. But when things get hard that’s the real test.

Having previously worked in startups for years there’s this mentality of “come early, stay late, and we’ll supply the coffee and beer and snacks (junk food) to fuel your amazing work!”

Most of them fail because they’re not trying to build a business, they’re trying to get lucky. A couple will IPO, a few others will sell for top dollar, and the majority (90%) will sell the technology in a fire sale or go under.

I swear the reason they give you all that free stuff is to screw up your brain so you don’t realize how futile your work is. How you’re spending 70 hours per week, building a soon-to-be forgotten product, potentially making someone else rich in the process, for some half-baked founder’s WHY that seems crucial in the moment until you talk to ten people outside the company walls and realize almost no one cares.

There are a number of benefits to working in a startup, but the ones that demand your life and soul to make the founder and investors rich should be lumped in with all the other well-known business scams.

Superb article, Ramit — thanks! (And especially timely for me at the moment.)

One entrepreneurial habit (and thus message to others) that drives me crazy is being “connected 24/7.” You know the type… *always* answering text messages or emails during meetings. Or taking a call that you, being all of four feet away, can plainly hear is not urgent!

It seems so many entrepreneurs think they need to be imminently available, like *that* is a marker of success or importance (like carrying a pager in 1990). I think it’s often just like people who confuse being busy with actually accomplishing something useful… mistaking activity for productivity.

Yeah, like a sprint of 15-hour days or skipping a workout, sometimes it’s temporarily necessary. But if it starts to become the norm, something’s out of whack.

I used to be the hard charger. Work flat out, sleep little, and watch the savings grow, while I grew miserable and weak. My Mentors were Folk who talked a big job, and knew they would die in debt, no matter what they did. They worked all hours, just to make their repayments. I didn’t know that at the time, it was all I’d ever seen, and thought the way they did it was normal and right.
A good dose of Shingles at 34 years of age was the kick in the butt I needed to sort myself out. Years of crippling back pain wasn’t enough.
Six years later, that tingling, hot, aching pain in my shoulder, where the Shingles took hold, is all reminder I need that life is not all about money and business, and to take a bit of relaxation.

I feel like for me, more hustle would be the answer…really struggling to put in consistent effort at the moment

My personal take is that hustling your ass off/making big sacrifices like your social life and working hard to build your business.. is probably NECESSARY in the very beginning. You get out what you put in, and in the beginning (lets say 6 months to a year) I think you DO need to hustle super hard to make it happen and then slowly over time you take your foot off the petal. Thats my 2 cents.

Of course, with a topic like this, there is no right/wrong answer, as with everything else it depends on what works for you and what your personal goals are. You have people like Gary V who breathes hustle and that gets him going, and then you have other small business owners who work 5-6 hours/day and make $100k/year and are super happy with their lives. To each their own

Glad you spoke on this Ramit. I’ve owned my business for over 7 years now, and have also had 4 kids in that span of time. I worked so hard all day every day for over 3 years – I honestly don’t even remember much from my second child’s first year of life – and then realized that it was the stupidest thing I could be doing. I’ve done more prioritizing, delegating, and LIVING in the 3.5 years since. I seldom skip workouts, and rarely work at night or on the weekend. One of the biggest reasons why, besides my own health and mental well-being, is that I wanted to teach my kids that life should never be all about work – if it is, it will eventually be a life you don’t want.

Wow! I so needed to hear this right now! All I do is all-nighters, 2 x a week (it’s killing me) and I have no fun, and I have few friends. I *just* forced myself to go to the gym, and take 2 days off to spend time with friends, last weekend. I’m so tired of “hustling.” It’s not getting me anywhere. I just signed up for your Mastery a couple days ago, because mastery sounds a whole lot better than hustling. Peace, Ramit.

Thank you so much for writing this! Just moved to Charlotte from Raleigh, NC. I’m trying to maintain my downtown office and client list in my former city… from 3 hours away!

I keep cracking the whip on myself (gotta keep cranking the “client Mill” to meet my monthly sales goals in my consulting biz). But honestly I’m quickly running out of gas. Something has got to give, because the way I’m working right now is definitely not sustainable.

Sometimes when you push to work super hard for months to meet your goals, it’s hard to step off that hamster wheel! Next thing you know, you’re gaining weight, feeling anxious all the time and straight up dreading work, even when it’s a business you created.

Weaving in some fun, turning out of town work trips into a mini vacation and getting some much needed perspective are the only things that keep me sane!

Thanks Ramit, for shedding some light on how we all get caught up from time to time. My expectations (and my monthly sales goals) are my own, and sometimes worth ignoring.

This post was great. I’ve been so conflicted lately with the mix of messages that have to do with hustle and work. I am working hard to build my business but I’m sure there’s always more I could be doing. I’m left with so much guilt for not working harder. I don’t want to work away my 20s so that maybe I’ll have a chance later on to enjoy life. But where is the balance?

Hey Ramit!

I don’t know why it took me so long to join your email list, but I’m sure glad I finally did! I’m loving your emails and this post resonated with me so deeply. I’m a wife, and mom of 3 boys – and for the longest time all I did was ‘hustle’ – to try and grow my business. I’d lose sleep, skip workouts or stop working out all together, or spend time away from my family. It’s just not worth it. Thank you for saying that it’s okay ‘not to hustle’ but still work hard and play hard!

Hey Ramit!

People are getting confused with hustling with success.

Hustling will only amount to progress nothing else. So don’t think for one second that you are not receiving anything in return for your hard work. You are exercising your willpower to pursue whats in your heart and if you want to be in the game for the long haul! Then you will have no trouble figuring out how to be successful in your chosen field.

“You need a work-life balance.” I don’t think there is balance. There are only the tradeoffs you are going to make to achieve a certain result. I used to try to balance a morning routine, journaling, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, coffee meetings, meet-up groups, writing, and online courses then squeeze in self-care, family, friends, birthdays, the girlfriend, and weddings in the crevices of my calendar because this is what I believed it meant to be balanced. Right now, I am in the early phases of my business, and I do have to make trade-offs I am less comfortable about, like not traveling to SF to see my parents as often because I have to work. There are sacred times I protect–my morning runs/workouts, a day or two a week without meetings–because these activities make me happier and more productive. However, I also know that right now, I am going to be working a lot more on weekends and nights and saying no to some non-essential social events or training for my blue belt to get my business off the ground and reach some level of sustainability. Eventually, I want my work and life to support each other so it does not have to feel like I am giving up the “want-to-do’s” for the “have-to-do’s”

Preach! There’s so much “lifestyle noise” from the entrepreneurial community that (just like bad/conflicting business advice) needs to be filtered out.

For example the glorification of not sleeping, not having a social life, etc.

I think when you become a parent that’s kind of when that breaks. You gain perspective, get ruthless with prioritizing what you’re working on, and pay too high a price when you sacrifice your personal time.

There are still entrepreneurs out there who complain-brag about never seeing their kids – I just shake my head. They don’t know it’s just not that cool anymore :)

As usual Ramit you’re weeding out the truth from the BS.

Another spot on post. I woke up today with a list of 20 tasks waiting for me to hustle and grind out, but this article made me take a pause and think to myself: “did you start a business to become your own slave or did you do it to have more fun?” I already feel lighter. Thanks for writing.

The most insidious thing I’ve ever heard was “Every conversation has to be about work. You have to constantly be talking about business, until you’ve built it up to run even without you.”
Not quite those exact words, but exactly that message. After nine years, my wife and I are still trying to sort out the damage.

Here’s something I disagree with from (some) entrepreneurs:

The notion that, if you choose NOT to run your own business from a laptop and be a digital nomad, you’re a “conformist.”

Honestly, you can do whatever you want. As long as you’re happy with it, who are we to judge? Look, I work from my laptop in coffee shops and I love my flexibility and freedom. But I don’t go around shitting on everyone else because they’re “not entrepreneurs.” (Also, being a digital nomad ain’t what it’s cracked up to be. Ask me how I know.)

Like you say, build the lifestyle first. I think of a guy like Richard Branson; the dude is a crazy entrepreneur, but he KNEW how to have some fucking fun. That was his prerequisite for ANY endeavor. If it’s not fun, he’s not going to do it.

Well said, Ramit.

Good you brought this out in the open Ramit.

I’ve found it difficult to change that mindset, because the hard work, hardship, always busy, no time for anything fun, is so deep in our culture.

Many people associate the lifestyle they are working hard for, as being lazy or a time to sit back. Like a holiday.

Ive found it works to consider my self on a life long holiday and get done what needs to. Build business what I consider fun and helpful, but it takes time..

Have a great holiday all,
Petra

There are, of course, many variables in deciding what to do and how much to hustle. Not least among these is the question of “why?” I really like Ramit’s observation that revenue is the outcome, not the driver, of what we do. If we strive solely to amass wealth, then we have turned money into our god, and it will leave us empty in the end. My purpose is to glorify God by helping others (specifically in the area of second language instruction) and to enjoy Him forever. (cf. the Westminster Shorter Catechism) Since we have no guarantee of the future, we need to enjoy the journey today (which doesn’t mean that we don’t work hard) – another good piece of advice from Ramit.

Just as a bit of stimulus to discussion – or at least thought – here is a link to an English translation of a vignette by Heinrich Böll (German writer). It is a conversation between a tourist and a fisherman in which the tourist exhorts the fisherman to work hard and build a business so that he can someday sit on the beach, enjoy the sunshine, relax, and set his mind at ease. The fisherman points out that that was exactly what he was doing until the tourist came along. http://thescuttlefish.com/2015/09/the-fisherman-and-the-businessman-or-to-work-or-not-to-work-by-heinrich-boll/

Hi,

Great read. And perfect timing for me – I was just wondering, “Should I give up everything for a few years to build my dream business?”

Perfect, thanks!

What a refreshing take.
Thank you for going against the grain of “work-life balance is impossible!”
Entrepreneurs, especially emerging ones, are often made feel guilty for not working 16 hours a day. It’s like you aren’t taking your business seriously.

You are a highly visible success icon. Glad to see you use your star power for good.

One a personal note – my business started doing much, MUCH better after I made a point to stick to an exercise regimen and fit in a coffee with a friend every now and then.

Loved this article, just shared it everywhere I could.

Hi guys,

I have this super annoying friend who studied business and thinks it’s his job to push me to “succeed” all the time. He’s like, “hustle, baby, hustle!” And I’m like, “Fuck off. I’ll hustle when I’m good and ready.”

When you let other people give you advice on your business that you haven’t asked for or agree with, feel free to ignore the crap out of them. They can always use their own advice. You don’t have to.

Phew! Rant over.

Thanks Ramit, I really needed to hear this today. :)

Keep rockin’ it, man!

Thanks Ramit for acknowledging this, it’s so important to let the work be fun and not as a chore. If it becomes a chore, then we’re doing it wrong and for the wrong reasons.

“Build the life you want, then save for it” >> I’m posting this on my bathroom mirror.

I think I’ve stumbled around and toyed with doing this without being able to name it. So, instead of ‘building my life’ and knowing I was doing that first, I’ve felt inadequate because I get bored with a job after 2 years and bounce to something else. Now that I’ve finally taken actionable steps to build a side hustle (instead of having a couple of early contracts fall into my lap), that feeling of inadequacy and imposter syndrome is even stronger.

Buuuut, if I straighten my priorities and know that ‘business’ comes third or fourth after things like family, health, and fun…well then I know that it’s not inadequacy so much as it’s just a lower priority. I’m looking forward to this mindset shift.

Needed this today. So often, I’ll skip a workout or an event to “work”…and then I find myself scrolling through Facebook groups reading worthless advice. My goal: go all-in on “move-the-needle” work for 6-8 hours a day, so that I can completely focus on relationships, experiences, and health on evenings and weekends.

So true, Ramit, postponing life is never a good option.
The most common thing people say regarding business here is that you cannot have both: business success and…fun, or healthy friendships, or private/family life, or time for yourself, happiness, and so on).
I agree with the Richard Branson saying: I did not get happy because I had got wealthy, I got wealthy, because I had remained happy (along the way).

+1 “You are always lonely at the top of the hill.” – say mostly the ones who have not ever been at the top…

I just started my business three months ago, am still working a full-time job, and was just giving myself the, “Okay, I’ll just work hard until I die from now until forever, the end” pep talk. But my heart isn’t in it. Every idol of mine tells the, “I worked 80 hour weeks. It took fifteen years. That’s how it goes” story, and I know and accept this story. I like the idea that the story can be different, or at the very least bearable. Thank you so much for your words and energy.

I almost didn’t read this post, because the title terrified me that you were going to introduce a level of crazy ABOVE hustle! But I’m so, so glad that I read it!

The biggest hustling advice that I think isn’t true is “No days off.” I see that as a hashtag, a personal motto, a topic of articles…I was beginning to feel super guilty about “abandoning” my business for a four day weekend. Except…this weekend is when my older sister/best friend was supposed to get married. If I can’t spend a four day weekend with her after she got dumped a month before her wedding, what kind of life am I building?!!?!?!

I’m totally going to ignore my business this weekend and spend the time she and I both need to heal. And next week when I go back to work, I’m going to save myself some time and unfollow people who give crappy advice on the Internet.

Thanks for this article–it was a kick in the head for me but I needed it really badly!

Carolynn Ananian

Not so much a message, but the entrepreneurial world puts a strange emphasis on denial … both in terms of denying the truth (“You must be crushing it!” even if you’re not making money) and denying yourself (“I’ll sleep when I’m dead” ‘I’ll see my friends once things let up at work a bit” … until you haven’t seen your friends in a year and they stop calling).

I’m reminded of something you said a few years ago when you gave a talk at Google: systems exist to serve us, WE do not exist to serve the system. That’s how I view business now … it exists to make an impact, not make us servants.

ABHISHEK KHANNA

What a great reminder Ramit! I think this culture is also part of those who work in corporate jobs. You’re expected to work 60+ hours regularly, ‘cos that’s defined as ‘hustle’. Burnout is a real thing and it’s not worth sacrificing your present to such a degree that you start hating it.

I roll my eyes whenever I hear someone say, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” – not entirely true. Sure, it helps to have a strong network, but not if you’re a lazy idiot…

It’s so refreshing to read this point of view. Of not having to kill yourself to be a successful entrepreneur. Thanks for reminding us to live our life too!

Dhaval Prajapati

Entrepreneurs often feel like exhaustion is or lack of sleep is a required badge of honor.. but in reality it’s a sign of chaos… Well said, Ramit!

That was an awesome read. I believe part of growth though is experiencing that struggle of working like a maniac. There is a time for everything though.

Thank you for this. Like most entrepreneurs this has happened to me. Imagine sitting down for so many hours that you end up with tail bone pain. I just started exercising again and this is from someone that used to run marathons.. Funny thing is I feel so much better and I now get more done. Most of the times we are really not as productive as we think we are even though we work these ridiculous hours.

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