If someone asks you this question:
How’s work going?
Perhaps the most standard answer is some version of “oh, good, just busy.”
Many people equate business with productivity and worth, a dangerous combination that can leave you emotionally drained. And over time, that cycle can slowly lead to you feeling deeply unfulfilled at work and home.
Prioritizing work-life balance is a central tenet to building a career and life you love.
But how can you strike that balance in an economy obsessed with hustling harder? What solutions can make a lasting impact on your life, not just surface-level fixes? And what does work-life balance have to do with building wealth long-term?
Let’s get into it!
The Financial (And Personal) Problems With Hustle Culture
Hustle culture’s deception runs deep.
How many shallow “mantras” have you come across, whether via social media, interactions with friends and co-workers, or even self-talk that sounds like:
- Just work a little harder. All this time will be worth it when you retire a multi-millionaire.
- It’s okay to be super busy all the time; it means you’re productive.
- I need to stay connected to work constantly; otherwise, I’ll fall behind.
Hustle culture sells a compelling version of the American Dream: work hard now, and good things will come to you later. Being the bootstrapping nation we are, a lot of people buy into this fantasy.
But the reality is far less picturesque.
It often involves high stress, long hours, missed time with family and friends, and a lack of personal and professional growth, ultimately leading to burnout (a predicament many workers find themselves in).
Burnout can have a host of short and long-term effects, such as deteriorating health, loss of motivation, and a lower quality of life.
Burnout And Chronic Health Issues Are (Too) Closely Related
Maybe you can’t blame the weather changing for your new migraines or daylight savings time for your lack of sleep—it might be how much you’re working!
And a string of bad headaches and months of spotty sleep from burnout can have a more profound effect on your well-being than you might think.
Several studies link burnout with varying levels of health consequences. A recent study published by PubMed uncovered that burnout was a significant predictor of health and mental ailments like diabetes, heart disease, insomnia, depression, headaches, and in severe cases, mortality.
And unfortunately, these findings make sense.
When you’re burned out, you often experience negative emotions like stress, anger, apathy, frustration, and chronic exhaustion. Those emotions might lead you to alter your behavior, like attending one too many happy hours in a week, poor eating habits, a lax exercise regimen, insufficient sleep quality, etc., which in excess, could lead to those intense health issues discussed above.
And once your health gets to that level, it could be a lot more challenging to recover.
Plus, it might mean you have to take time off work for your health instead of choosing time off for something more meaningful—honeymoon, sabbatical, friend trips, family reunions, etc.
Your Health Isn’t The Only Problem; Burnout Can Also Come For Your Wallet
You may be surprised to learn that these health factors also impact your ability to create wealth long-term.
Remember, significant burnout can cause you to alter your behavior, and not always for the better. You may spend far more than you would on items that don’t add to your life. Extra spending can also leave you feeling unfulfilled with your money, further perpetuating the negative cycle.
When you’re burned out from hustling, you may not have the energy and time to apply for other positions, ask your boss for a raise, start a meaningful side business, or set the boundaries you need to help you be successful.
Trust us when we tell you that your wealth should tell a different story. It can be a vehicle that helps you achieve your goals: supporting your family, traveling the world, building an impactful career, and spending quality time with loved ones. Not one that leaves you pulling out your hair on a Friday afternoon or wishing for the weekend’s swift arrival.
How can you get out under burnout’s thumb?
Reconnect With What Matters Most To You
When you’re knee-deep in “staying busy,” it’s easy to lose sight of what’s most important to you. Now is an opportunity to connect with your values, goals, and priorities. These three elements should be the foundation of your financial and life plan.
- What are your core values?
- What are you working towards right now, professionally and personally?
- Can you list your top priorities and how you’re actively pursuing them?
- Are you using your time in ways that align with your values, goals, and priorities?
- How does your money ultimately support that vision?
- What roadblocks stand in your way?
Don’t worry if your answers to these questions look different than they did even a year ago. Life changes and you should give yourself and your plan the grace to change with it.
Perhaps a year ago, you were laser-focused on traveling the world and dedicated a lot of your resources to fill your passport with new stamps. But now that a loved one is sick, you realize that traveling is less important than creating memories with the people you care most about. So instead of funding a European vacation, you decide to come home for a family reunion, take more time off during the holidays, and reconnect with old friends.
Giving yourself time to understand where your priorities lie enables you to organize your time and money to help you reach those goals. And when you make each moment of your life purposeful and meaningful, you’re actively breaking out of burnout culture as you reclaim your time and resources.
Untangle Your Identity From Your Job Title
You. Are. Not. Your. Job.
We all need to face this reality from time to time because conflating the two is simple and easy to slip into.
You spend a good deal of time and energy at work, and it’s challenging to separate your work life from your home life. No matter where you work, it’s important to create physical and mental separation when you’re “off the clock.”
You have such a vibrant life outside your office, so be sure you make the most of that by:
- Keeping up with your hobbies. Whether joining a painting group, weekly trivia with friends, or working on a novel, spending time on things you find exciting and joyful can add a lot of meaning to your life.
- Building intentional relationships. Relationships are key markers for satisfaction, so put in the effort to have lasting relationships with your spouse/partner, friends, community, etc.
- Maintaining your physical and mental health. Adopting a healthy lifestyle is all about finding a balance that works for you. Meditating, eating healthy and exercising can enhance your mood, strength, sleep, and more, which leads to an improved quality of life.
Taking care of “you” outside the office can also help you form a healthy relationship with work.
PTO Is A Benefit For A Reason, So Take It
Taking paid time off isn’t a trick question. Your company offers PTO, so you can rest, recharge, and come back energized and ready to work.
Plus, resting actually makes you more productive. Several researchers have linked vacation with increased productivity, creativity, perspective, and job performance.
Alongside vacations, ensure that you take enough breaks throughout the work day. Regular breaks have been shown to improve focus, productivity, and employee well-being, so take a coffee break, walk your dog around the block, or call your mom to say “hi,” because it could help you perform better and experience less stress.
Build Wealth Intentionally and Slowly
Society loves a good get-rich-quick narrative—why do you think Americans spent $105.26 billion on lottery tickets last year?
While striking a big fortune might make for a good (or awkward) holiday story, the reality is that building wealth often happens slowly over time. True wealth comes from understanding your resources and allocating them to support you in the short and long term. That might look like an emergency fund, debt repayment plan, retirement savings strategy, outside investments, investing for your child’s future, supporting your aging parents, etc.
As we approach year-end, challenge yourself to identify the areas you feel burnout creeping into your life—answering work emails after hours, overbearing stress, living for the weekend, etc., and invite yourself to slow down and recommit to the things that are most important to you.
The value of your life transcends your job or wealth. It’s all about being intentional with what you have to make your life and the world a better place today.