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How to Stay Happy in the Hustle

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Did you know that 45% of people in the U.S. have reported to have a side gig on top of their full-time job? That’s about 70 million people. When you look at millennials alone, that number jumps to 50%. According to data, about 57 million people own a side business that isn’t their main source of income. 

The hustle culture is not only alive and well, it’s quickly growing. Many people are finding that having a diverse revenue stream is smart — especially in times when it’s unclear where the economy is heading. 

You’ve probably noticed the inspirational #hustle hashtags on Instagram and Twitter, and read the countless career books that praise the art of the hustle. And while your career (and bank account) may be thriving, you also need to ask yourself: Are you happy with what you’re doing? Is your hustle giving you purpose and allowing you to propel yourself forward both professionally and personally? 

Here are some ways you can make sure to keep yourself happy in the hustle.

1. Know when to say “no”

As a hustler, your gut instinct may lead you to want to say “yes” to everything — every assignment, client, project, you name it. The hustler in us will always try to tackle every possible task we humanly can, because we want to succeed and outperform expectations.

But by saying “yes” to every proposal and request, you will eventually run out of bandwidth. This inevitably not only risks overwhelming yourself, but not being able to give projects and tasks your fullest attention. This could cause further problems with the relationships, connections, or networks that you’ve already worked so hard to establish. 

Analyze what projects are worth it. This could be a money factor, a timing factor, or a general fit factor. Is the client easy or hard to work with? Ask yourself how much you can take on, and don’t beat yourself up if you have to turn down work. That’s the nature of business, and truth be told, when you have the option to say “no” to something, it actually means you’re doing something right. 

“It’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” – Steve Jobs

2. Learn how to delegate 

Hard work is admirable, but you don’t always need to be the one doing it. If you have your own consulting business, could you be delegating certain time-consuming, smaller tasks to subcontractors? If your end goal is to prioritize high-level ideation and project management, it could be wise to start hiring freelancers to do the more menial tasks.

Learning to delegate tasks is an essential part of becoming an efficient hustler. There are always people out there looking for part-time, contract-based work. Can you pinpoint what tasks have a high impact versus tasks that don’t? Do you know how to effectively prioritize? 

Although you may feel that you need to have your hands on every phase of the project, recognizing the skills and abilities of others, and how they can bring value, lifts some of the stress and burden off you. It’s also key to understanding your own workflow in order to not only be successful, but to stay happy and avoid burnout.

The more you take on to accomplish your professional goals, the more you’ll realize that you can’t possibly do everything. In fact, even when you think the business or project can only be handled by you, at some point, you need to step away and let others handle the low-hanging fruit. Plus, by having other people in your corner, you don’t have to say “no,” nearly as often.

3. Be open to challenges and learning new subjects

It can be intimidating at first to dive into a subject you’re not completely familiar with, whether it’s content marketing, newsletter campaigns, business development, or another field. But variety can be key to shaking up your routine and keeping your attention and skills engaged and nimble. The same old day-in and day-out tasks can get boring and mundane, which can impact your overall sense of happiness and satisfaction with your work. 

Maybe the task or challenge at hand will require you to learn how to develop a new skill or use a tool that you’re unfamiliar with. Instead of looking at this through the lens of, “This new thing won’t benefit me right now,” consider what long-term gains it may offer. After all, the more you learn and expose yourself to new facets of business, tech, and entrepreneurship, the more tools you have in your arsenal, and the more you can offer future clients. 

Challenges can be intimidating, but they’re ultimately a good thing. Keep an open mind, adopt positive thinking, and go for it. Yes, you need to know when to say “no,” but hustlers also know when it’s the time to say, “Hell, yeah.” Your resume and growing skillset will thank you for it.

4. Lean on your network for support

It’s incredibly important to have established a group of professionals whom you can go to for advice. I have many folks in my network who I often consult with when it comes to questions about staffing, business models, and vision. When you have a trustworthy group of people whom you can get advice from, it makes you feel less alone and more supported.

Support from your colleagues is also key to staying happy and feeling confident in what you’re doing. Plus, it’s never a bad thing to rely on someone else’s knowledge and expertise and see if they have any insights. Collaboration is a powerful tool, and without it, you may miss opportunities you couldn’t see by relying on your own insight or perspective alone.

“The richest people in the world look for and build networks, everyone else looks for work.” – Robert Kiyosaki

5. Take time to rest

The hustle is real, but so is your mental health. Know your limits, and allow yourself to unplug and give your brain and your body a break. This might mean going for a jog, watching a game on TV, being outdoors — whatever helps you unwind. Taking breaks helps avoid burnout, mental fatigue, and can actually help you refocus when you switch the gears back on to “go” mode. 

You’ll find that you’re actually even more productive after you’ve allowed yourself to relax. Making time to step away from the hustle allows you to evaluate how much value it brings to your life. Then, you can make the changes you need, directing your time and efforts to those things that keep your professional life, and your happiness, moving forward. 

Manick Bhan is the founder and CTO of LinkGraph, an award-winning digital marketing and SEO agency that provides SEO and paid media services. He is also the founder and CEO of SearchAtlas, which offers a full SEO software suite. He is the former CEO of the ticket reselling app Rukkus.

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