The Hustle Comparison Trap

hustle on mug

Social media envy is real. We see people’s photos and content and logically, we know it’s the edited and filtered version of their lives. And yet – we fall easily into feeling their lives are as perfect as their social feeds. The comparison trap rears its ugly head when it comes to weight, travel, motherhood (HELLO), home décor, marriage – okay, basically everything. I’d specifically add to that list: the hustle comparison trap.

We live in a world where we have more flexibility than ever to define what “success” looks like to us. For some of us, that means hustling like bosses at our day jobs. For others, it means working hard at our day jobs, of course, but also hustling harder at something else (or two or three) on the side. And this is a good thing!

First, of course, the flexibility is great if it’s something you want to take advantage of – your success, your dream. Second, mastering a craft – any craft – takes time, dedication, practice, blood, sweat and – yes – tears. That’s how the dreamers become the “sensations.” What you didn’t see was all the effort they put in to get there.

So, yes, success is a function of how hard you work. And hopefully, it’s driven by what you love to do!

The problem is that pesky hustle comparison trap. We all have different day jobs, commitments and realities. It’s so easy for me to scroll through my social feeds and feel shitty because I can’t spend my entire Saturday working on my hustle. But then the only solo time I had to check those feeds ends abruptly when my needy, mom-obsessed toddler opens the door on me while I’m peeing.

Oh, maybe that’s why I can’t hustle all day today. Huh.

On the other hand, I do have a toddler who is – usually – a good sleeper, so waking up at 5 a.m. to hustle IS an option for me. Do what you can and give yourself some credit!

The hustle comparison trap is also why so many people answer “busy” when they are asked, “how are you?” This is one of my biggest pet peeves. PSA: this makes you borrrrrring. And it also doesn’t tell me anything. We’re all busy. If you’re busy and unhappy, well – maybe stop complaining and instead do something to make yourself happier.

Lastly, while I am all about the hustle, I’m a firm believer in balance too. Sometimes working hard is about quality over quantity. I’m not impressed if you tell me you work 60 hours every week or are in the office until 7 p.m. every night. Are you making an impact? Are you achieving your dream? And are you taking care of yourself? –> a biggie! Or are you just going along for the slog because you think you’re supposed to work a lot? (Or because you’re wasting time all day long by focusing on the wrong things or worse, screwing around?

So: hustle hard (but smart). Get after those goals. But above all, put down the smartphone and take a breath. Be nice to yourself. Cut yourself some slack. You got this.

Photo by Garrhet Sampson on Unsplash

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Stephanie (Harig) Prause

Stephanie Prause is a corporate communications, sustainability communications and investor relations professional, juggling a career she thrives in with being a mom and wife. She is also passionate about staying active (as in, she’ll lose her mind otherwise). Other interests include sampling craft beers, cooking from scratch and reading voraciously (at least for about 20 minutes before she passes out mid-sentence).

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Could not agree more with this sentiment! I try to remind myself that social media is a highlight reel, and when I’m tempted to compare my hustle with someone else’s I consider what MY priorities really are… do I even want what they have? Its so easy to get wrapped up in trying to have it all that we can forget what we do have.

  • I have been taking a bit of a social media break, and that means not catching these blogs as often. I find I can get distracted by the accomplishments of others, and it takes my eyes away from my own true, authentic goals. It is always comforting to see others experience the same thing.

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