In the past several years, I have had to think about putting in extra time and doing extra projects outside of traditional work hours to get where I want to go with my career and my life. My husband has as well. This recently brought up the term “side-hustle.” We both agreed that we dislike the term. I mean, what does it mean to “hustle” anyway? I asked Marriam-Webster:

Hustle (V): a to crowd or push roughly

                     b to convey forcibly or hurriedly

                     c to urge forward precipitately

I mean, I get it. Money is tight, the middle class is shrinking, and small businesses are only getting more competitive.  If we have something we are passionate about that we want to develop into a career, we may find ourselves putting in some extra hours outside of our traditional work to make it happen. Or, we may find ourselves taking on something extra just to pay the bills. But- is “hustle” really how we want to describe a business prospect that we want to cultivate? Do we want our deepest career dreams and passions to be forced, hurried and pushed-through? Do we want our life to be a “hustle?”

When I am cultivating a career prospect outside of my primary job, I try to do so with a little TLC- tender loving care – both to myself and the project. I like to take my time. I like to plan it through. I want to think of how my side project will help with my primary career. This blog, for instance, helped me get a job working in literacy last summer and has helped me to improve my writing in the workplace. My husband edits a Youtube channel which helps him to improve his editing skills and also helps him to network in his field, in addition to bringing in a small revenue. Furthermore, we both greatly enjoy these projects. While it’s unrealistic for every second of every side project to be filled with joy and passion, shouldn’t it be something that fills us with greater meaning and helps us to grow as individuals and as professionals?

Simply put, we may have to put more energy into our careers at some points than others to get where we want to go, but at the end of our lives, do we really want to look back and see a “hustle?” Is that really what we think we owe ourselves?

So, let’s reclaim all those additional hours we have put in. Let’s have side passion-projects. Let’s have side growth-generators. Let’s have side money-makers and side career-boosters. Let’s dip our toes in the water, try new things, enjoy each step of the process in a mindful way, and be awake. Let’s remember when we have to put in more hours than we would like that we are rock stars. Let’s embrace those parts where the project gets sticky as a learning opportunity and celebrate every step of the way. Let’s treat every obstacle as an exciting challenge we can overcome. Let’s pat ourselves on the back for going above and beyond, for being innovators, for daring to dream.

But please, let’s not hustle.