“Do you feel like the time you spent hustling was necessary to get where you are, or do you wish you hadn’t hustled so much?” – Dawn on Twitter
I’ve received this question from SO many people. Many of you have told me that you feel that you can’t afford to stop hustling, since you’re in the beginning stages of starting up a business or dream.
Here’s the thing, though: While I do recognize that the many years spent hustling now allow me the ability to slow down and have a year of rest, I really wish I had learned to stop hustling much, much sooner in my blogging career.
I have always and will always be honest with my community here, but this topic is something I haven’t been ready to fully share about until now. Here’s the truth — the real, hard-to-admit truth in complete authenticity and transparency.
Last year was a very, very difficult year for me in so many ways. I remember about halfway through the year, my friend Casey Graham was in town and invited me to have coffee with him. He told me he wanted to pick my brain, but at the very beginning of us sitting down for coffee, he asked me a question that hit me like a ton of bricks…
“Crystal, what are you excited about right now?”
I sat there in silence for a really long time, and I finally replied, “Honestly, nothing. Right now in this season of my life, I am just putting one foot in front of the other. I don’t feel like I’m supposed to quit what I’m doing, but it’s very hard to keep going.”
I couldn’t get that question out of my mind for the next couple of months, but with everything being so busy and chaotic, I just kept pushing on — almost with a martyr-like mentality, as if this was my station in life that I had been called to regardless of the lack of joy I felt.
Then I had my surgery, and the recovery was much more challenging that I ever expected it to be. As I was sitting there in my post-surgery funk, I had zero motivation. I was so frustrated and kept beating myself up over how exhausted I was.
This all came to a head when I was at a speaking event for a MOPS conference in Indiana a few weeks later. I realized just how worn out I was when I was barely able to function or remain standing after my second talk at that event.
When I went to South Africa, I was able to get away from the hustle and was completely offline a lot of the time I was there. In those quiet moments far away from the life that had been wearing me down, God worked on my heart.
I got to a place where I decided I was ready to be done, to give it all up, and to walk away from everything. I felt like maybe it was what I was supposed to do, and I was very ready to do it.
We returned from the trip, and the next couple of weeks were crazy. I had a book to launch, which was very hard to push through. There were also some huge things that happened behind the scenes in the business — things that I can’t talk about for personal reason. For weeks and weeks, I could barely think about anything else. I couldn’t focus on the business, even on the day of my book launch.
God took all of this and used it to break me and get me to a place where I was ready to stop chasing and hustling — to that place where I was able to say, “God, it’s Yours.” Instead of putting my worth in my online presence, productivity, and business accomplishments, I had to learn how to rest in my identity in Christ.
I made a decision to step back and stop hustling, even if it meant completely walking away from all of it. Instead, we were able to make some major changes in the business that allowed me to take a year of rest, step back, stop hustling, and continue with my business without wearing myself out.
Are you hustling to the point of exhaustion? If so, here are some of my thoughts on choosing to stop hustling…
1. Hustling is exhausting.
It can ruin your health, and it can ruin your relationships. In the process of hustling, I lost all of my joy, excitement, and creativity. I let other people make me feel obligated to take my business to the next level, and I felt like a failure if I didn’t meet those expectations. I let all of those other voices dictate my business decisions — that ultimately affected all aspects of my personal life, as well.
I now realize that it’s okay to keep things smaller. I want to be okay with not growing — with impacting fewer people at a deeper level, and with having smaller numbers and not exhausting myself.
Instead of asking what will take our business to the next level and make more money, I am now learning to ask myself what is best for me and my family during this season.
2. Hustling does not equal productivity.
I realize now that I was doing SO much hustling that was just busy work — things that were using up my time and energy without producing any results or joy. I think busy work will look different for every person in every season. I encourage each of you to reflect on and decide for yourself which of your priorities are just busy work, and which are productive for you professionally and personally.
Busy work was keeping me from blogging, from my family, and from being able to take care of myself. I had to start saying NO on a regular basis, and it was a really hard thing to learn how to do.
Here are just a few of the many things I’ve been saying no to:
- I’ve said no to almost every single interview and business opportunity I’ve been offered over the past few months. With every single request or opportunity that comes up, I ask myself if it will give me joy and impact the bottom line. I say no to 98% of the offers I receive. The few things I choose are well worth my time and energy, and I am super excited about something when I choose to say YES to it.
- I said no to being CFO. I was feeling so weighed down by trying to manage all of the strategy and finances of the business. I was looking at the numbers every single month and having to be the one to carry all the weight of those numbers. I kept feeling like I needed to do it, because I was the only one who could do it the right way. I have now realized and accepted that this is simply not the case, and I have been able to delegate this responsibility. I feel so much freedom from this burden being lifted off of my shoulders.
- I’ve said no helping promote other peoples’ products. This has probably been the hardest one for me. I have had to say no to a lot of dear, dear friends over the past few months, and it hasn’t been easy. I remember what it was like starting out in the beginning. I want to help my friends as they’re getting started and be a part of their exciting projects. As much as I want to help and be a blessing, I have realized that this is an area I have to learn to say no in more often. I have often overworked, overburdened, and exhausted myself in the process of trying to help every single person who is starting out and needs my help.
- I’ve said no to much of the management of my team. I was managing too many people, and sending way too many e-mails. I had to step back and let some of the other people on my team help manage other projects, people, and situations. This has given me so much more freedom, time, and space to focus on other areas of my life and business.
With all of these changes and more, this year has already been so incredible. I feel my joy returning. I am enthusiastic and energetic about blogging, my body feels well-rested, my soul feels nourished, and I am enjoying being able to dwell in the quiet moments with myself and my family. Slowing down has been the best thing I’ve ever done.
I want all of you to learn from my mistakes, and I challenge you to try to stop the hustle from the very beginning.
I encourage you to focus on the few things that will make the biggest impact and bring you the most joy. I think it is so much better to have a smaller platform, earn less money, and have more joy than it is to have a great big platform, have a huge following, but have no joy in the process. We don’t have to buy into the lies that hustling will get us where we need to go.
photo credit: Jane_Johnson