Hustle Merchants and the Gurus of Strive

Well, it’s been a fair few weeks, hasn’t it?

I was getting warning messages that I needed to upgrade my blog because it was running on an outmoded PHP version and we can’t have that. Updating the PHP necessitated migrating the whole thing to a new server and then a whole buncha phone calls which my husband, The Living Saint, undertook on my behalf. And just when we thought we were done, we weren’t done because the SSL certificate needed renewing or you’d all get a warning that this site was completely unsafe and you’d best be on your way.

As I’m writing this (as a separate document that I will upload just as soon as I can) I’m backing up my site for the final upgrade and, honestly, I have no idea if it’s going to be done in time for my usual Sunday posting (it’s mid-afternoon Saturday). And if any of this sounds like I know what I’m doing, I’m a worse writer than I thought. Because, honestly? I have no single clue what I’m doing.

In an attempt to have something that I could at least direct those of you who follow my Facebook page to, I signed up to write on I also thought it would be nice to be able to maybe make a little money from my writing, which, cool idea! Until I started looking for articles to tell me how to do that and oh, my goodness! You’ve got to hustle! You’ve got to strive! You’ve got to reach for total world domination!!!!

I just want to take Alan, The Living Saint, out for lunch once in awhile.

But I am so susceptible to the Hustle Merchants, the Gurus of Strive that I had to close my laptop and spend a few days writing in my journal and reading novels until some of that adrenaline had cleared my system.

It’s made me think again about contentment and how alien it is to current society. We look askance at people who are happy with where they are in life, who make do with what they have, who aren’t continually striving for better, faster, more.

At the same time, rates of depression and anxiety have exploded.

Do you suppose there’s any connection?

It’s not easy to get away from constantly striving. Living expenses alone can keep you working harder than you want to at things that may keep your bank account healthy but don’t feed your soul and I do realize I’m privileged to be able to take the time to ponder these things.  But there are a lot of people who objectively have what they need and could relax a little but don’t because they aren’t content or maybe they are but don’t realize that contentment is actually permission to stop trying so hard, stop doing so much.

This constant striving and sense of discontent is adding so much to the destruction of our environment as we cast far and wide for that which will make us feel better, be it travel to faraway places, or a bigger home, a new wardrobe or whatever. The planet is being trashed and it’s not making anyone any happier.

Why do we fall for the trap of, as the Hustle Merchants would have us, always playing a bigger game? We’re told to grow our sales, grow our profits, build our following on whatever platform we choose and we should choose a bunch of them so we can cross market and grow even bigger!

If you like to write, you have to get a book deal. If you like to paint, it’s gallery representation. Crafters should get picked up by big-name homewares stores.

Does it really have to be that way?

There’s nothing wrong with deciding how much money you need to live and organizing your money-making activities accordingly. So if your crafting and selling locally will cover it and if getting bigger will only add to your stress, then keep it small, keep it local, keep it fun. Ignore the growth gurus as best you can.

I keep seeing people who have grown their businesses, based, presumably on doing something that they love, into something massive. And they have to spend all their time and energy keeping up with this behemoth that they’ve built, leaving them tired and stressed rather than happy and grateful.

I like my life as it is now. And yet, even I fall for the siren call of growth. Of growing my blog following, of making tons of money from my writing. Even though I know that doing that would mean spending more time on marketing and publicity, which I don’t enjoy than on the actual writing, which I do.

It doesn’t help that the platform on which I do so much of  my writing is prone to constant upgrades and improvements that I have to keep up with or just abandon the whole project and as I wait for the mysterious upgrades to, um, grade up, I wonder what improvements I should be making to justify all this frustration and toil. Cuz three weeks of effort to stay in the same place seems a little wrong.

So how do I quell that voice in my head and all the voices out there that tell me I’m just being lazy? That I’m afraid to grow? That I owe something to somebody and it’s not going to quit tormenting me until that debt is paid?

That is the challenge I am presented with: to be content with being content.

And, as always, I would love to hear your thoughts.  Are you able to ignore the Hustle Merchants, or is it something you struggle with, too?

Thank you for your patience. It’s good to be back.


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4 Responses to Hustle Merchants and the Gurus of Strive

  1. Alyson says:

    Oh, I love this one, Barb. I mean, I always enjoy reading your stuff, but sometimes it resonates in an extra-special way. I used to have a hard time with the concept of “contentment”. I thought it meant giving up and giving in. But it doesn’t! Ten years later I’m quite content with contentment. To me it means lowering your expectations of yourself in a way that isn’t punishing or failing, but just being happy with who and how you are. Sometimes I catch myself thinking that I’m not doing enough and that I’m lazy, and I have to repeat to myself that lazy isn’t necessarily a negative. Lounging around with a glass of wine and a book is just a good (usually better) than finishing that project, attending that event or working on “building my business”. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Tom Dean says:

    Thanks Barb… great thoughts and well described. I feel content in setting and reaching my expectations of self, and not what others suggest or prescribe for me, and my family. To be able to go outside for a walk each day, sit by the water on weekends and see nature at its finest, for as long as I want, are treasures to me. Spending time with our grandson at a playground, for as long as he can run and climb are additional treasures – no batteries, cords or wireless involved at all. Just pure fun and physical exertion.
    Keep up the good work, Cuz. Luv ya for it.

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