Hustle Culture Lies About "Overnight Success"

Image Credit: iStock


The problem with hustle culture is that it seduces you into thinking there's a shortcut to success.

CONFESSION: I'm guilty of believing the Hustle Culture lie which says that creating an online business with enough passive income to sustain yourself can be done in a month. (Please tell me I'm not the only one?)

The blog-o-sphere is full of clickbait headlines like:
  • What I learned after making $100,000 in 2 weeks from my new website
  • How I Make $5,000 Each Month Writing About Tiny Topics
  • How I Made $700 in My First Month Selling Digital Products
It's so hard not to click on those headlines (I've clicked on all of them) because it's tempting to see if there's some big secret to making money fast - especially online.

Sit on your couch in your underwear and make the dolla dolla bills ya'll - what's not to love about that?

Image Credit: S├ębastien Lavalaye on Unsplash

Well, turns out that - big shocker - there are no shortcuts.

The headlines make you think it's easy, but the bottom line is this: If you're going to make money online, at some point you actually have to sit your ass down and do the work.

And, you gotta do it consistently.

Oh sure, maybe you create a digital product that you can get passive income for. But you have to sit down and create that product. That requires consistently putting in the time.

And if you want to have enough people to sell the product too, you better have a fat email list or tons of subscribers that you can sell to.

How do you get a fat email list?

By showing up consistently over time with a solid product.

None of those clickbait Hustle Culture headlines mention that. (Snake-oil pedlars - all of them!)

It's sort of implied somewhere in the background, but let's face it, coming right out and telling people: "There are no shortcuts, you're gonna have to work for it everyday, for a long time" isn't sexy. No one wants to hear that.


Personally, the belief that it's supposed to be fast and easy has led me to quit so very many times. I've been writing on and off for 20 years now; the off times were a direct result of drinking the Hustle Culture Kool-Aid. I would do a bit of work and then assume I was failing, not realizing that it would take a lot more work and a lot more time.

If I had simply shown up consistently, without stopping, without getting distracted by all those Hustlers, I would have been able to create some serious traction by now.

If my focus had only ever been on creating content, I would be leaps and bounds ahead of where I am now. But because I was drinking the Hustle Culture Kool-Aid and believing that if it wasn't happening fast, I wasn't doing it right, I got discouraged and stopped producing repeatedly.

Sigh... Hindsight, whatcha gonna do?

I don't know what you're going to do, but I know what I'm going to do: I'm going to start by giving the middle finger to Hustle Culture - fuck you and your click-bait lies. And then I'm going to sit my ass down and do my work.

How do you actually succeed?

You succeed by showing up and doing the work, consistently over time.

That's why you have to love the work and the process of producing it, because you have to consistently show up for it, and you can only do that if you love it.

I recently listened to an interview with one of my all-time favourite writers, Mark Manson, on the Tim Ferriss podcast, and he said:

"There’s 10 years of quiet iteration behind that big breakthrough success."

The breakthrough success he's referring to is the publication of his New York Times Best-Selling Book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.

Mark Manson: Men's Health

Manson started blogging in 2007. In 2011, he self-published his first book, Models. In 2012 he released an updated version of Models. From 2013-2015, he saw an exponential explosion of his site's popularity with over 20 million readers of his website in that last year. That's the year he got a publishing deal, with The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck being released at the end of 2016.

"...10 years of quiet iteration..."

Success is about showing up consistently over time.

In the same interview, Manson estimated that he's written 500-600 blog posts.

Go ahead and write that many blog posts, and then let's talk about failure and how your thing isn't taking off.

Do the work.

There's no such thing as overnight success; there's only someone who's been working away at something for a long time finally arriving at a point of critical mass where success appears to have been "overnight" because of exponential growth.

Success is about showing up consistently over time; that's the formula.

It's so simple that even a drug dealer can figure it out:

Yes, I feel it is easy, drug dealing. You know, it's just about following the rules. It don't matter who you are or what you do, if you strive to do something and work at it hard, eventually you will succeed always. There's no failure, if you fail in life, it's because you quit or give up what you're doing.

The above quote isn't an encouragement to become a drug king-pin, but to illustrate that the formula applies to anyone with regards to anything.

Success is about showing up consistently over time.

That's it.

Image Credit: Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash

Most of my writing life consists of nothing more than unglamorous disciplined labor. I sit at my desk and I work like a farmer, and that’s how it gets done.


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