I stumbled across an Instagram post this morning that somewhat grated on me.
Who am I kidding? It downright infuriated me.
The writer opened with the words ‘STOP WATCHING NETFLIX PEOPLE!’ – all caps, exclamation mark, all of it – before launching into a mini tirade about how ‘enough is enough’ and how there are so many people who are dissatisfied with their life and levels of ‘success’. One of the reasons for this, we are told, is because they watch Netflix during their downtime.
It then went on to say that if you want to be successful you need to be working on your side hustle, learning new skills and networking and that you shouldn’t be enjoying any downtime until you have ‘made it’.
I’m sorry, what!? I think you may have somewhat misunderstood the concept of ‘downtime’.
But it goes on. Apparently if you feel uncomfortable with this assertion (as you can probably tell I clearly am) it means there is something wrong deep within you and said blogger then urges you to ‘look inward and ask yourself why’ you feel that way.
The more I think about this, the more odd I find the whole post in general. The tone of it, the level of judgement and the fact that the writer felt herself in a position to preach to others (because it was a very preachy post). And how she almost vilifies people for taking any kind of downtime until they have somehow ‘made it’.
This isn’t a new thing. The whole ‘hustle’ culture has been pervasive in our society for a number of years now. This no doubt coincides with the growing popularity of blogs and Instagram and the fact that it is now easier than ever to start your own side hustle.
I’ve had a side hustle for a while and I am still working on it every single day. When I first started out, I did exactly what this person is telling us all to do. I spent every spare minute working on what was then my freelance web design business without taking time to do anything for myself. I hated even having to step away from work to take a shower.
So I get it. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt and a matching hat to boot.
But I also know the other side to it.
My craaazy working hours and the fact that I was allowing myself no time whatsoever for self care resulted in the biggest of crashes. I didn’t just end up exhausted…I ended up having a full on mental breakdown which triggered four years of persistent depression that I am only just beginning to emerge from.
Not only did it destroy my life for quite some time but it completely put my blog and business on hold. My mentality of constant work did not serve to propel me towards achieving my goals in any way whatsoever. It simply held me back.
The Coronavirus lockdown seems to have brought this out in people more than ever before. The extended downtime means that people feel a need to fill the time. To compensate for the lack of freedom and things they would usually be doing by smashing it in their business.
And that’s great. As long as you are still taking the time to look after yourself.
Because working on your ‘hustle’ is NOT downtime. Neglecting to look after yourself and throwing everything into your business can actually be counterproductive and quite easily lead to burnout. And believe me…burnout is the place where inspiration goes to die.
None of us have ever lived through anything like we are currently going through and at the moment we are all just trying to survive, literally and figuratively. Many of us are doing well if we make it through the day without ending up in an anxious puddle on the floor.
So if you’re someone who wants to spend all your time working on your ‘hustle’ and feel mentally able to do so then great. Seriously…good for you.
But it’s also completely fine to make time for yourself and if that involves lying on the sofa and watching Netflix then you go for it. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be successful and it certainly doesn’t mean that you are a failure. Focus on looking after yourself, doing things that make you happy and just getting through this very difficult period. The inspiration and success will come in their own time.