Creating for a living seems easy enough and one that can be accomplished through a mixture of hard work and a bit of luck. However, that’s not always the case.
Although it is easy enough to make money, it’s also oftentimes a grueling process of consistent shooting, editing, postings, promoting, and other seemingly essential tasks like normal eating patterns, normal sleeping patterns, and healthy relationships often go by the wayside in the emphasis in gaining traction online.
Now that isn’t to say that its awful to go after your dreams – by all means, do it and do it with a passion. But there is a growing trend in those that feel that they need to adhere to the hustle hard philosophy of life.
They dive headlong into projects on a whim, accept collaborations, and promotion deal with large companies in order to retain their audience while also keeping online traction.
These influencers take ballsy bets on odds that shouldn’t be in their favor and somehow are successful at it. Thus, they repeat the process over and over again while also growing a larger and more powerful platform.
This process of upward retention of an audience while creating traction and profit in turn is called the hustle hard philosophy in life in that if you go fast and hard, juggling opportunities, then you are best able to reap the rewards. Although it’s a brilliant concept and may yield some results, it also comes with some pretty gnarly consequences.
Stay Humble, Hustle Hard
The stay “humble, hustle hard” crowd has joined ranks with the online influencer community and sent out this prevailing message that if you hustle hard, you can make your dreams come true.
However, the harmful effects of this philosophical take on life aren’t pretty and most unfortunately are on public display through the likes of YouTube and social media stars coming forward with their “burnout” admissions.
The seemingly widespread effect of this burnout epidemic was truly something to behold when more and more YouTubers started coming forward with videos wherein they admitted that they were having difficulties keeping up with the pace of being a popularly active YouTube content creator and felt it necessary to take a step back.
YouTube superstars like online gaming personality PewDiePie, YouTube news commentating star Phillip DeFranco and psychologist and mental health advocate Katie Morton all having at one point or another feel it necessary to walk away from their platforms for a while.
So, What is Burnout?
Burnout, according to Psychology Today, is a state of “emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress.” Most of this stress is brought on by work, but can also come from personal stressors, such as relationships. Burnout is just a point where stress gets mounted up at an alarming rate and thus sends the sufferer into emotional and psychological shock.
The rate of burnout in YouTubers became so alarming due to the sheer volume of clips that were accumulating on the site. Many popular YouTube stars like mental health videographer, Kati Morton who at the time of her admitting that she felt “burnt out” had over 800,000 YouTube subscribers, decided to address her audience about her self-abusive behavior of being driven to create for her channel and for her subscribers.
In a five minute video titled, “Why I need a break!”, Morton explained the situation she was going through, the consequences it brought on her emotional and mental well being and subsequently announced that she was going to take a month-long break in order to better focus on herself.
The video was a calculated decision. Yet, only being absent from creating videos on her channel for a month, she still had wide-ranging and long-felt consequences.
Her viewership decreased dramatically as well as her subscriber count and she lost income on top of it. Not only from the month-long absence but continuing on long after she returned.
The question remains and looms large over all creators, big and small, from all different mediums: What determines the decision to call it enough and walk away for a while? When do you call it quits for your own health and well being? Is it even possible to take a break and still maintain the level of success that you, the creator, have spent so long in maintaining?
The Necessity of Taking a Break
The benefits of pausing, in walking away, in finding solace from the stress are obviously far greater than having a few more subscribers or a few hundred to throw in the bank with the others, right?
But the desire to hold on to the audience might be overpowering the logical and sensible decision to take a well-deserved break.
According to Psychology Today, there is a psychological need for breaks, for a pause to all the chaos that consistently seems to challenge our attention and energy at all parts of the day. The brain can only work for so long before it, too, needs to rest.
Ignoring The Need For Rest & Repair
Our society has never given much credence to the universal understanding of rest and repair. We have created an excellent system in which if you are not constantly working and accomplishing something, then you aren’t worthy of success.
It’s a damaging message that we insist is an admirable attempt at accomplishing our dreams. But in reality, it’s making us slaves to a system of work that is only going to break us of our willpower, our spirit, and our ability to offer ourselves in other avenues.
However, the sad reality that we have found ourselves in is the fact that we aren’t working towards success. Rather, we are working to survive.
What we were venturing out initially with the thought of having success and fame and admiration only brings us more and more water in which we have to tread in order to make ends meet.
The never-ceasing work is causing more and more unhappiness, a direct antithesis of what these creators were promised when they first started their channels. Not to mention, the same can be seen in almost every other venture.
America: An Overworked Society
Work-related burnout might seem like some new buzz word or new catchy phrase of a mental breakdown. But it’s been around and it’s only growing as we Americans work more and more.
In fact, the United States is one of the hardest working countries in the world. Something that we have seemingly prided ourselves in but its actually an alarming statistic that we need to take a better look at.
America has been repeatedly been called the most “overworked country in the developed world” and it’s pretty easy to understand why when you look at the reasons provided from news outlets like Forbes, The Atlantic, and The Guardian, who have all reported on the fact that Americans are oftentimes more likely to be overworked than other countries’ citizens.
Most of the cited reasons are for overworking in the United States are:
- In the U.S., 85.8 percent of males and 66.5 percent of females work more than 40 hours per week. ¹
- Since 2007, outstanding student debt has grown by almost $1 trillion, roughly tripling in just 12 years. And since the economy cratered in 2008, average wages for young graduates have stagnated—making it even harder to pay off loans which thus creates a need to work more hours in order to repay back loans that they cannot afford. ²
- In certain key industries, overwork has become embedded in the culture as competition grows to remain at the cutting edge of innovation. ³
What Does Burnout Look & Feel Like
When the stress becomes too much when the pressure is mounting and ever-increasing and the days start to mesh together, all of these things are symptoms of work-related burnout and it’s important to understand the warning signs so you or someone you care about can be aware of work-related burnout before it becomes overwhelming.
According to the Mayo Clinic,⁴ the most common symptoms of a severe work-related burnout or an escalation towards a complete work-related burnout episode are:
- Excessive stress.
- Sadness, anger or irritability.
- Alcohol or substance misuse.
In Rare Circumstances
- Heart disease.
- High blood pressure.
- Type 2 diabetes.
A Final Word: So, Now What?
So, the evidence is clear: Americans are overworked. Plain and simple. They have been told to work and work and work until they have their literal dreams come true and if those dreams haven’t come true, it’s because you haven’t worked hard enough yet.
It’s a lie that has been perpetuated in our society and spoon-fed to us at an early age. The overworking nature of our society has created more issues than it might be worth as more and more stories of workplace burnout and work-related burnouts have been coming out over the past few years.
Of course, we know that this isn’t true – that work needs to have its breaks, it reprieves from the constant, consistent drum of endless repetitive work.
However, we all need to work. We need to make a living and make ends meet so the obvious solution to this burnout epidemic is by creating specified breaks and countermeasures to ensure that burnout is never truly reached.
We – as workers, creators, or influencers – need to understand our own mental, emotional, and physical limits. We need to be ready and willing to speak up when we are about to hit those limits.
The only way to maintain a healthy work/life balance is to make sure you establish it for yourself and model the behavior for all to see.
We need to make sure that we are doing our very best to lead a healthy and balanced life, meeting and exceeding our goals both for our careers as well as our personal lives and finding rest and reprieves when we need it.
Hustle hard but hustle safely, everyone because burnout is very real and in some cases, damaging towards our lives, our relationships, and our careers.
¹ 20 Something Finance: The U.S. is the Most Overworked Developed Nation in the World
² The Atlantic: Workism Is Making Americans Miserable
³ The Guardian: Why are Americans spending too much time at work?