Why Most Who Hustle Fail

I started working at my first “real job” a week after I turned 16. I was a Sales Associate at American Eagle. Unlike many of the other 16 year olds, I was always asking for more hours. I worked 20-30 hours a week in addition to school. I’d even skip school to work.

Work became the most important thing in my life. I actually considered skipping college for a job in retail. $40,000 salary sounded a lot better than writing checks totaling over $40,000 for a piece of paper. As you’ve probably guessed, I did end up going to college. My mom had a great “salary growth over time” spreadsheet that quickly convinced me to invest in that piece of paper.

I always liked actually doing the work more than the learning. That’s how I snagged my first ad agency internship. We had to build a sample pitch for a philanthropy – taglines, design. We even priced the different marketing channels. They used my concept for a billboard and I was beyond excited. It was the first time I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

I became obsessed with my hustle. I still am. While it has come and gone in waves with certain roles, I go all in. Whether I’m folding tshirts or speaking about trends, I’m all-consumed with doing whatever I do well and in a way that makes a difference.

And that kind of energy for anything but taking care of yourself is exhausting.

People really glorify that hustle. “Giving it all.” I was one of the believers for a long time. I would pull all-nighters and sacrifice everything. Work came first – before anniversaries, before down time, before me time.

I was wrong, and so are you if you’re buying into the grind as the only path for success.

In fairness, we don’t build workplaces around rest. We “work hard, play hard” and have “drive.” Employer brand buzzword bingo is a litany of variations on speed. We use “busy” like it’s a trophy.

It only took me 17 years to figure out that you can’t find your value in a timesheet. That annual reviews aren’t where you establish how well you’re doing in life. That your boss doesn’t determine your worth.

I learned the hard way it’s not healthy to give anyone else that amount of power. It’s not healthy to encourage that life for your people, either. 33 years into this life and 6 months into this business, I value a clear, rested mind more than I value the 24/7 grind. This world is full of the half-assed results from those nights. If I have to hear one more “we’re the Uber of..” story…

But here’s the thing I struggle with: how the hell do you turn your brain off? How do you quiet an obsession?

Honestly, I don’t know. But I’m going to try.

For the first time in years, I’m taking 15 days off work. I’m getting married and going on a honeymoon with no laptop and no phone. Yes, you read that right.

It’s a good time to take a break. To refresh. To celebrate life. To get sunburnt while I read magazines and books for a few days instead of LinkedIn blogs and building email templates.

You should take a break, too. We all could use one in the world of the hustle.

I’ll see you on the other side. Rested.

Life recruiting

Kat Kibben View All →

Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.

Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.

Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.

3 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Love this post Katrina! Very well said. There’s something powerful about a great balance of work ethic and self-care.

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