When you’re in business for yourself, there are all kinds of financial ratios to help you figure out whether your project is working. You’ve got your liquidity ratios, your efficiency ratios, your profitability and solvency ratios – all quick and dirty ways to transform a page full of your numbers into answers to that most basic question, Am I Getting Paid? Those are all mighty fine ratios, I love them, but I find that lately, there’s another ratio that makes my heart beat more quickly. For me, it’s the only ratio that matters. And that is:
What’s your Hustle to Chill Ratio?
Yes, into every life, a little Hustle must fall. That’s right: if you want to make something happen, then it’s on you to Hustle. This is true whether you’re building a business or building your life. Making something happen – buying a house, building your email list – that takes Hustle. And sometimes boy-howdy don’t it feel like we’re in the middle of a Hustle Era, where everyone’s up all night, working 24/7 on social-everything promoting their thing that they’re doing, hustling like mad. Hustling like there’s no tomorrow. And that’s all well and good for a while. Because that’s the thing.
Hustle is good. For awhile. Then it’s not.
Hustle, let’s face it, is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s that drive that separates the big new idea from the heaps of yeah-yeah-whatever ideas, it’s what makes new products, new books, new ways of thinking about the world happen. It’s an inevitable feature of the start-up environment, of getting something off the ground. It’s work, glorious work. And you know I can get down with work. I love work.
On the other hand, though, don’t forget that Hustle is also a con, a long game in which, at a certain point, you are playing your own self. Yes, it’s true. There comes a point when the Hustle is on you.
So watch it. Watch your Hustle to Chill Ratio.
At the start of every new business, even every new job, it’s all Hustle. It’s Get out there and promote yourself. It’s say Yes to opportunity. It’s Do everything yourself. It’s Work every single day of the week. But there comes a point of diminishing returns, generally imperceptible to you at first. And if you’re in the Habit of Hustle, if you’ve spent years carving & honing that groove, well, the Hustle is a hard mistress to give up. The Hustle is enticing. The Hustle is what you know.
The Hustle is hustling you.
So, on the regular, I like to encourage the people I work with to consider their Hustle to Chill Ratio. Sure, my clients are mostly people building businesses, but I think it’s true for all of us. I even ask you, reading these words: in the life that you’re making for yourself, what’s your ratio of Hustle to Chill? How hard do you have to work in order to be able to chill, to have what you want how you want it? Where is that sweet spot – for you, no one else – where the Hustle and the Chill are in the right proportions? Where you have the satisfaction of creating your own life and the ability to actually ENJOY it, however you define that.
And believe me: that’s tough. The Hustle makes you feel like you’re doing something, like you’re ticking things off lists and moving forward. Sometimes it’s true: you’re actually doing something. But sometimes, it’s just a feeling. It’s just a habit, and maybe not a good one. Maybe one that’s not really helping you.
Check yourself: what's your HTC?
Examining your HTC Ratio on the regular hones your discernment. It encourages you to ask other questions about your business and life, like How much is enough work? How much is enough money? What other sources of satisfaction do I have in my life besides my number of Likes, my gross monthly Revenue, my reviews on Yelp?
Don’t get me wrong: I love work. I love the Hustle. But that love, unlike my love for other things in my life, is conditional. I know that Hustle is good only to a point. Past that place, I am probably just hustling my own self, distracting myself from really looking at whether it’s giving me what I want.
So, please ask yourself: what’s your Hustle to Chill ratio right now? How hard are you working and is it giving you the life you want? Are you in that sweet spot of making your life and actually enjoying it? If not, when can you get there? And how will you know? You're the boss. Make it happen.