Why I Chose Health Over "The Hustle"
When I first launched The Denizen Co. back in 2013, I worked six days a week, logging an average of 60-70 hours a week. I said yes to every inquiry – including a retainer contract with the Seattle Seahawks (yes, seriously) – fearing that if I don't take that job, I will suddenly be hit with a seven-month-long dry spell and have to go back to waiting tables again. In my eyes, success was inextricably linked with stomach ulcers, chronic lower back pain, and sleepless nights – "the hustle," so to speak.
Cut to: summer of 2017. I experienced "burnout" for the first time in my life. Stomach ulcers weren't a rarity back then, but in addition, I began to experience frequent bouts of heartburn. I brushed it off for several months, but symptoms worsened to the point where I was taking sick days due to gut troubles. When I finally brought myself to the doctor, I was diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Nowadays, success looks a little different to me. Success is getting a full night's rest and waking up feeling refreshed (and excited!) to work. Success is having a comprehensive system for every aspect of my day-to-day work to speed up routine processes like invoicing and client on-boarding. Success is working with razor-sharp focus throughout the day so I can close my laptop by 6pm every night and prepare a home-cooked dinner, or go meet a friend.
In a society where work is inextricably linked to self worth, it is easy to neglect our bodies and work ourselves to the ground. But what I learned from my burnout experience is that our bodies know us far better than we give it credit for. I have since shifted my focus from bigger to balance, from hustle to health. Though I am still in the process of unlearning years of unhealthy work habits, I hope this space inspires you to focus on your well-being as much as your work.