As someone who has always watched culture, I‘ve noticed that there is generally an antidote to any zeitgeist.
If I have any friends in advertising reading this, you, like me, have been trained, brewed, and basted in a stew of hustle porn. Hustling has become gospel in certain industries, courtesy of uber alphas like Gary Vaynerchuk, whose success is firmly entrenched in the hustle. And though his hustle/thyroid-gone-wild vibe has always frightened me, I get it because I’ve been a hustler my entire life.
Chasing work as a freelancer is an ultimate hustle. Connect. Procure. Repeat. Add in grueling daily workouts and a once ambitious social schedule, and you’ve got a recipe for burnout. And we all know my beautiful city of New York is hustle central. After all, if you can make it here, you’re probably exhausted from doing so.
Cut to 2020.
We all know that the pandemic pause, although frightening and tragic, was necessary. And I remember the early days so well. The lack of anything to do. The quiet. The city that never slept was hitting snooze, and it felt like a scene from “Vanilla Sky.” I remember, to pass the time between ominous obsessive news watching we’d go for drives. Once, by Central Park, we rolled the windows down and could hear the couple’s conversation crossing Central Park West. It was utterly surreal.
And it’s true that my husband and I don’t have children, so the pandemic was easier on us. But life is returning to a new normal, and I have concerns.
In a recent Forbes article praising “break culture” and citing a Deloitte study, “77% of people have experienced burnout at their job, and 42% have left their jobs because they felt burned out. This results from mental and emotional stress due to working long hours and trying to keep up with unrealistic expectations set by the toxic excesses of hustle culture.”
And with that, I read this piece on slow living with great interest.
For those seeking greener pastures, slow living may be just your brand of panacea. It’s the culmination of paring down, hitting pause, meditating, and finding balance. And yes, that includes taking breaks. I ask you, is the endless hustle getting old or maybe I just am?
I could chalk this up to getting older/wiser, and perhaps slowing down a bit is just the logical progression of things. And maybe this whole “less is more” moment not only applies to making the earth a better place but also to our lives. For instance, I try not to work on Fridays. And this past Friday, I met a dear friend at The Met for the new costume show and then lunched uptown at The Mark. I spoke on this topic to her, and she is older than me and told me she feels the opposite.
Maybe focusing on doing “less” means less of the stuff I don’t want to do
She wants to do as much as possible because she’s more aware of time passing. Now before you think that’s morbid, it’s not. This friend has always been a type-A overachieving Leo, and for her doing is being. I think I may be the same, so maybe focusing on doing “less” means less of the stuff I don’t want to do. The stuff that causes anxiety or stress or ennui. Focusing on stuff like late afternoons lunching. Or carving out more time to see friends and family and pet the dog. And since I’m also an extroverted introvert, there also needs to be downtime to just unwind and cook more and hang out. After all, those of us (well, all of us, really) in creative fields need to turn our brains off between briefs and brainstorms.
It’s also something I spoke about with the founder of this very community.
In his SuperAge Mastermind Seminar series, which I was delighted to be a part of, we spoke about the importance of recovery between workouts because that’s where the magic happens. I am someone who works out just about every day, with little room for rest days. I do this not because I want to win a bikini contest but because I’d be cuckoo without it. But I have noticed my body talking to me a lot lately. And it’s begging me to make more time for recovery, so I’ve been trying to take it a bit easier and it does seem to help.
Even fashion seems to be embracing this slowdown. Have you heard of the latest trend to take the summer by storm? It’s called “coastal grandmother,” and I’m not kidding. Think Nancy Meyers movies, relaxed linen, a straw hat, and a good book.
Maybe I’m not going to take up truffle hunting, live in a cottage, or drink tea on a porch in Newport (though that does sound lovely). But I will rethink my hustle game and think about the positives of doing less but oh so much more.
So is it time to tiptoe through the tulips or continue to go balls to the wall? I think I’m somewhere in between, though the great reset will undoubtedly result in many more of us pausing to smell said tulips on our way to whatever comes next.