Redefining Success

Is the Hustle Culture Holding Us Back?

by Joanna Lawrencia Gähwiler, June 12, 2024
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Let’s cut to the chase: Life isn’t meant to be a never ending grind.

Society has long perpetuated the notion that “The Hustle” is the only path to success. But lately, I've found myself questioning: What if there's a better way? What if achieving fulfilment and success doesn’t require constant sacrifice and burnout?

My family often shared their relentless struggles in India to carve out the lives they live today. While their challenges were undoubtedly tougher than what we face now, our persistent adherence to the "No hustle, No success" mantra is leading us towards inevitable exhaustion and burnout, a phenomenon that's becoming alarmingly normalised.

As a Woman of Color in Germany, this narrative layered on additional pressure. I often felt I had to go above and beyond, doing much more than the bare minimum to succeed. The lack of recognition from teachers and other authorities regarding my abilities compounded this pressure.

Witnessing my peers effortlessly excel, claiming, "I didn’t even study" left me feeling frustrated and inadequate. This sense of inferiority gradually seeped into my career choices, convincing me that my diverse interests, grades and hobbies made me unworthy.

As this internal struggle intensified, it gradually evolved into a debilitating state of depression. Within this vulnerable state, coworkers exploited my insecurities, exacerbating my frustration and reinforcing the belief that a life filled with ease and joy was beyond my reach.

The Turning Point: Unlocking Self-Discovery

After 9 years of many jobs that had not lasted more than 1,5 years and resulted in a CV with no common thread, I had no idea how a career coaching was supposed to help me. But my curiosity led me to seize that opportunity, and now, more than ever, I am deeply thankful that I did.

It was incredible to witness my career aspirations crystallise through coaching, empowering me to take the necessary steps forward.

Adding Human Design to the mix was a game-changer. It was an emotional, yet transformative experience.

The most impactful insights from Human Design empowered me to embrace and understand My True Self. It clarified why I am who I am and confirmed that navigating a world as a Multipotentialite, constrained by societal norms, dims our light and stifles our joy.

Without an understanding and acceptance for our natural selves, we're destined to succumb to societal pressures, unable to distinguish between societal conditioning and genuine desires.

However, realising that we naturally possess the potential to craft an effortless life prompted me to question if there's a different, less draining path to career success.

Rethinking Work and Success

In today's competitive job market, it's imperative to redefine success. The traditional hustle mentality may not be the key to a fulfilling career for everyone. Instead, a more balanced and personalised approach can lead to greater satisfaction and well-being.

The Pitfalls of Hustle Culture?

  • Burnout and Mental Health Issues: Constantly pushing ourselves leads to burnout, anxiety, and depression, significantly impacting our mental health.
  • Lack of Fulfilment: Many find traditional markers of success unsatisfying, as they're driven by societal expectations rather than personal passions.

A Fresh Approach to Career and Success

  • Self-Discovery and Personal Growth: Tools like Coaching or Human Design etc. offer insights into our strengths and true nature, enabling informed (career) decisions.
  • Balance and Well-being: Prioritising well-being and achieving work-life balance is essential. A fulfilling career shouldn’t compromise health and happiness.
  • Embracing Individuality: Success is unique to each individual. Embracing our quirks and aligning work with values leads to fulfilling and above all sustainable careers.

Moving forward

As someone who has navigated the challenges of finding joy in a career and overcoming the pressures of hustle culture, I am now dedicated to guiding others on their journey. As a career coach, I specialise in supporting multi-passionate individuals, utilising coaching techniques and modalities like Human Design to help them discover more fulfilling and sustainable career paths.

We can start redefining success on our own terms and fostering a future where well-being and happiness are integral to our professional lives.

If this is the transformation you are looking for, et's embark on this journey together and build careers that enable us to live lives we truly love.


Joanna Lawrencia Gähwiler

Joanna, 29, born in India and relocated to Germany at 8, is a systemic coach and founder of Brown Girl Coaching. She supports women of color, Black women, and children of immigrants in navigating their life and career choices while thriving in predominantly white spaces.

Are you registered job seeking at the moment? Having Joanna as a coach can be 100% free of charge for you- Fired Up Space offers job and founder coaching for people registered at Agentur für Arbeit or Jobcenter. Sign up today and get started with your free career coaching!! 

Fired Up is an HR platform that supports people on their unique career journeys and helps them navigate the administrative landscape in Germany. 

Fired Up offers job and founder coaching, specializing in people with a background in tech and creative industries. Our services provide holistic support, which includes off-boarding, navigating the paperwork, consultation on the eligible benefits, as well as best-in-class coaching for the next step in people’s career.