- 10’000 Hours/Getty Images
- Working towards creating something, or doing something big, often necessitates putting other aspects of your life on the back burner.
- These six women found success through continual hustling. But they also found some adverse side effects.
- From health challenges like golf-ball sized cysts to heart palpitations, continual drive took a physical toll. While some say they don’t regret that time, others don’t think they benefited.
- All stressed that you shouldn’t let your health become low priority.
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Achieving anything big – be it starting a business, hitting the ground running at a new job, or creating something from scratch – often means putting your personal life on the back burner. When there’s always more work to be done, it’s hard to take your foot off the gas pedal.
But that hustle often comes with costs – and for these six women, those costs were huge.
Yes, their dedication, drive, and work ethic was met with great success. But that success came with tradeoffs, including life-changing impacts on their health, social lives, and relationships.
So was it all worth it? Would they change their decisions? Here are their stories, their lessons learned, and their best advice to you.
The employee who was spread too thin
- Courtesy of Bianca Harris
Founder and CEO, Skinary App Inc
To say Bianca Harris had a full plate during her two-year journey of working at a huge global corporation would be an understatement. Between the demanding travel schedule, a high number of people leaving the company, and an ever-changing job description, she was being pulled in all directions, and her personal life suffered as a result.
The balance of constantly giving 100% and learning new skills to fill in the gaps on her team did yield great results and huge accomplishments, but not without life-impacting consequences. “My relationship suffered, I gained 40 pounds, and I definitely aged five years in two from the huge amounts of stress and pressure I was under,” she remembers.
Though truly proud of the work she did, she also wouldn’t ever recommend for anyone to let their mental or physical health become a low priority. “In a moment of stress, always remind yourself, ‘This is just a job,’ and then do some self-care and dedicate yourself to a personal hobby,” she advises.
The solopreneur who kept pushing through
- Courtesy of Adrienne Nolan-Smith
Adrienne Nolan-Smith was building her media company WellBe with a partner, but that relationship began to fizzle out. When she realized she’d be running the business on her own, her health took a turn. Between keeping up with her daily duties and also trying to grow the company, her cortisol increased rapidly, she suffered from hypothyroidism, and she developed adrenal fatigue which ultimately led to Hashimoto’s.
“I hit a low where I could tell the burnout and fatigue was making me unproductive, and more than that, unhappy,” she recalls. Despite the exhaustion, Adrienne knew she needed to continue working in order to keep her business afloat.
In retrospect, Adrienne still believes she made the right choice in not giving up. However, she does acknowledge that her health should have been a higher priority. “If you feel that things are not right physically, mentally, or emotionally for you, yes, of course, you need to keep going, but delaying making your health or your personal life a priority or getting to the root cause of what might be going on makes both you and your business or your job suffer.”
The dedicated researcher who quit out of necessity
- Courtesy of Melody Wilding
Licensed Social Worker and Coach, Melody Wilding, LMSW
One summer night, Melody Wilding recalls canceling on a close friend’s wedding weekend last minute. While she had been excited about the event, she was also consumed by guilt. “I couldn’t shake the constant reminders from my inner critic that I had work to do and that I wasn’t pushing hard enough.”
At the time, Melody was working a high-pressure job as a researcher. Her days began at dawn, and commenced whenever sleep overcame her. The cycle continued for three years until she quit out of necessity. “I worked harder and longer to compensate for my insecurity until the stress broke me,” she recalls. “I had heart palpitations and nightmares. I felt like a shell of a person.”
Ultimately, Melody quit out of necessity. Once she stepped back, she realized the problem wasn’t that she hadn’t been pushing herself hard enough, but rather that she had been allowing other people’s expectations to consume her – doing work she thought she should be doing without considering whether it was what she wanted.
Now, Melody has opened her own career coaching practice, which, admittedly, still takes a tremendous amount of time, energy, and focus. However, she now has a new perspective: “Take stock of whether the ladder to success that you’re climbing is leaned against the right wall and if your habits are sustainable.”
The PR pro with too much dedication
- Courtesy of Harper Spero
Business Coach and Consultant, Harper Spero Inc.
In 2011, Harper Spero was tasked with establishing and growing the digital department of a beauty PR firm. Around the same time, she began experiencing shortness of breath, brought on after only walking several blocks. Her doctor prescribed her drugs and inhalers, but nothing seemed to help.
Given that she had only just begun her new job, Harper continued giving 100%, despite her persistent health concerns. “I worked extremely long hours, was always available, and definitely didn’t make myself and my health a priority,” she recalls. “I was completely focused on keeping my clients and boss happy.”
After several months of her continued symptoms, Harper finally saw a specialist who discovered a cyst the size of a golf ball in her right lung. She ultimately needed surgery to have it removed.
Reflecting on the situation years later, Harper knows she should have prioritized her health over her work. “Listen to your body – you know what’s best for you and your life. Work is certainly important but you can’t be the best version of yourself if you’re compromising your health and well-being.”
The over-consumed hustler who set hard boundaries
- Courtesy of Arielle Shnaidman
Intuitive Success and Brand Coach, Arielle Shnaidman LLC
During the three years Arielle Shnaidman was working in the startup world, her weekends were solely dedicated to playing catch-up. The reason behind the constant hustle was not a reflection of the companies she was at, but rather an all-consuming case of imposter syndrome. “I was working in marketing and always felt like I needed to be learning new skills, reading more, constantly upping my game to be a great marketer,” she says. “I always felt behind.”
Looking back on that season, Arielle doesn’t believe her extreme habits were beneficial. “I was overloading myself with information and exhausting myself – I would lose my creative spark,” she states knowingly. “The tradeoff wasn’t worth it.”
Arielle has since come to terms with the fact that success happens gradually and has combated her natural tendencies with hard boundaries. Things like Friday night dinners with her husband and no-work Saturdays are now non-negotiables in her life. “The way you spend your days is the way you spend your life,” she advises. “Are you rushing? Are you panicked? Slow down. Enjoy.”
The young and passionate entrepreneur
- Courtesy of Adelaida Diaz-Roa
Founder, Movers // Shakers Colombia
At the start of her entrepreneurship journey, Adelaida Diaz-Roa was 17, hungry to learn, willing to implement, and ready to grow. Though fueled by pure passion, her habits were not sustainable. As her business grew, everything else in her life was overcome with work and her passion ultimately led to workaholic tendencies.
Now, years later and a seasoned serial entrepreneur, Adelaida’s reflection on her past decisions is two-fold. “Was it worth it? Definitely,” she states confidently. “I learned so much. It also afforded me the freedom to travel the world and learn a lot about myself and build my social network and my health back up after my burnout.”
On the flipside, she’s also come to recognize the lasting effects prioritizing work over everything else can have. Taking it all into account, Adelaida’s advice to newer entrepreneurs is to absolutely commit to the business you are building, while also being aware of not letting other areas of your life sit on the back burner. “Now that I know how important health and relationships are,” she says, “I wouldn’t advise others to do what I did.”