The Migrating Mind

Is the Hustle Culture Killing Our Creativity?

Last year, I had a lot going on in my life.

I started a new full-time job as the head of marketing at an AI startup. I also had a side project (a newsletter) and a Tamil YouTube channel.

At home, my daughter was just born, and figuring out what to do as new parents was a big challenge for me and my wife.

I was overwhelmed and burned out. I realized I've had too much of this hustle culture.

I wanted to slow down, unwind, and think about what I really wanted to do. I also wanted to spend more time with my daughter during her first few years.

So, I pulled the plug on all my projects — everything except my full-time job.

If you're a creator, you will come across influencers and “gurus” telling you to be consistent on social media. 'Creating more' has become the mantra for fame, success, and money.

But, creating more, when forced, comes with its set of drawbacks — the biggest being the risk of getting burned out and missing out on the next big thing.

Imagine you're producing weekly podcast episodes with great success and thousands of listeners. At one point, it stops being fun and starts becoming a grind. You build a process and get mechanical about it. You start focusing on the metrics. Deep down, you start hating it.

And when the needle stops moving in terms of metrics, it adds stress and impacts your mental well-being.

Also, by focusing solely on the output, you may also miss other signals in the market: new formats or trends go unnoticed because you're too caught up hustling your way to the top.

The most successful people slow down, take a pause, and reflect upon their work. During this process, they look for emerging trends to decide what's next for them.

Sahil Bloom shared an interesting perspective during his appearance at the Media Empire podcast. He said that creator success comes in waves. You cannot keep making one kind of content forever. You'll either burn out or become irrelevant.

He mentions Tim Ferriss as an example. Tim transitioned from being a best-selling author into hosting a successful podcast. Now, after running the podcast for several years, Tim Ferris recently talked about getting back to blogging, a more slowed down approach.

So, there are benefits to slowing down.

It doesn't matter if you're creating once a week, once a month, or once a year. Just create when you feel like creating. Don't mind the algorithm.

Remember this — you're not doing it for the algorithms. You're doing it for yourself.

If you're wondering how it turned out for me, I'd say good.

When I looked back, I noticed that even though I did so many things, people always identified me as a writer. So, I decided to just write and do nothing else.

I wrote an essay series “life in shared spaces”, which was well received among my readers. I travelled a lot, and consumed a ton of podcasts. And the best thing of all? I spent more time at home.

I’m not saying I will not do a side project in the future. I will. But I definitely won't rush into anything just because everyone is doing it. I'll do it at my pace.