I’ve been reading and listening to many successful entrepreneurs who talk about this concept of hustle. Some people are proud of working 12–18 hour days, 7 days a week. Others are proud that they work 6 hours or less, and never on weekends, etc.
I’ll save my answer to this question for later. For now though, I want to share my journey with hustle. I am a therapist, parent coach and business owner/entrepreneur. When I first got out of graduate school and got my first job, I didn’t just “leave it at the office” each day. Actually, I couldn’t, because I spent my afternoons and evening driving around to see the kids/families on my caseload. So my free time was usually during the day. But that is beside the point.
I didn’t spend my days lounging by a pool or binge-watching TV. What I did instead was work. When I first started at that job, I realized they didn’t even have a policy and procedure manual for anything. The first thing I decided to do was create one. Fortunately for me, my boss allowed me to basically come in and take over.
After that first project, I decided to redo all the forms we used. I suppose the original forms were created on some sort of word processor, but the original files were long gone. After years of making copies of copies, the forms were blurry and nearly impossible to read. I did not feel that this added to the quality of our service.
So I took all the forms home and created documents on the computer so that we would have a clean original and a file on the computer for if the original got used. None of my other colleagues took this task on.
I think hustle was in my blood from the beginning. I worked hard at the job until my children were born and then I worked part-time for about ten years while they were all still young. There were obviously other very important demands on my time during that era and so I scaled back on the work part and ramped up on the parenting part. My “hustle” during that part of my life took on a whole different vibe, with diapers, play dates, Legos and Disney movies. But I never wanted to completely take my foot out of the working world and so I kept working part-time.
When my youngest son entered first grade, I knew that it was the time for me to dive in to my next venture. I decided to go back to school to become a parent coach and focus my professional work on working just with parents, because I see that as the single most effective way to significantly impact the life of a child or family.
After graduation, I opened my private coaching practice, which I still have today. A few years later, I co-founded a company helping other coaches grow and build their businesses. Now, my children are 16, 13 and 11 and my hustle has shifted back to a more work-centered feel. But in this phase of my life, I still want to be available to my children. I have the audacity, luxury and incredible fortune to run both of my businesses out of my home, where I can shift from work-mode to Mom-mode as needed. I travel when business calls for it (which my daughter can’t stand, but hey, it has to be done sometimes).
There have been times over the past few years when I have chosen to work through parties that we were hosting at my house because a deadline loomed that needed to be completed. And there have been times when our annual tent-camping trip took us into the woods and away from a cell signal or wifi (like this summer’s trip). So I have lived in both worlds where I am sacrificing personal time for work time and work time for personal time.
My answer is — it depends on if that feels right to you. I know that sounds like a bit of a cop-out, but it’s true. My hustle will likely look very different than your hustle or another person’s hustle. And even my own hustle has evolved and changed over the different phases of my life, and likely so will yours. And I think hustle really looks different between men and women, particularly moms and dads.
The bottom line to all of this is that we are all here for an astonishingly short amount of time, and we need to thoughtfully and mindfully live our lives in the way that truly makes our hearts sing and helps us to get the most out of our time here. Each of us is also here to fulfill a specific purpose — our heart’s true calling. The sooner we figure that out, the better. And once we do, the hustle becomes second-nature and then we just mindfully find a way to live our best lives.
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Originally published at medium.com