I used to give clients coffee mugs that said: “Get Shit Done.” Now I inspire them to Unhustle.
Five years ago, I was the owner of an award-winning digital marketing agency. I worked with national and international brands and companies with a team of 10 people. All the while, I’d spread inspirational Hustle Culture messages to my team and my clients: “This is a Bullshit-Free Zone” and “Optimism/Pessimism. Fuck That. We are going to make it happen.” Our revenue was up. Our reputation was stellar. Our work was on point.
As a first-generation immigrant from Bulgaria, all alone in the U.S., it looked like I built a dream life. I was living in Lake Tahoe. I owned a house. I had a loving husband, a successful career, and even a dog. I traveled. I was financially independent. I put money away for retirement, dreaming of the day I would get to enjoy it. It seemed like I had achieved everything I wanted in life and more.
I thought I was winning at life and in business.
But, deep inside, I was slowly dying.
I worked 16-hour days. I worked on weekends. When I slept, sometime between midnight and dawn, I slept with my phone, responding to messages and emails throughout the night. I was always on, and I expected the same of my employees. I suffered from digestive issues, thyroid, high cholesterol, lack of sleep. After telling my friends for years that I was “always busy,” they stopped calling me. The romance in my marriage was dwindling.
My business and my work started suffering. Even though I worked with amazing
clients in the health and wellness area, the quality of my work diminished. My
company turnover was high. I couldn’t hang on to my employees for longer than
I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t healthy. I thought of my parents, who both passed
away too early and didn’t have time to enjoy their life. They also worked too
hard so they could send my brother and me to good schools and give us the
freedom to build a better life.
The life I was living wasn’t what they dreamt of for me. And, it wasn’t the good life I dreamed of for myself.
I knew I needed to change my life and my environment. I decided to go to Baja on a 10-day digital detox trip and challenge myself to learn to kiteboard.
“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” – Albert Einstein
My A-ha Moment
That’s how I found myself floating in the Sea of Cortez in Baja California
Sur in a 3/2 ripped old black wetsuit, connected to a green and blue 12-meter
North kite. My kiteboard instructor, Sofia, has finally trusted me to do a body
drag alone, without a board. I’m floating downwind in a zigzag way, getting
dragged by the kite, practicing my figure 8. I hear the wind whooshing in my
ears. I taste the saltwater on my lips. I feel the sun on my face. I let my
body float effortlessly behind the kite. My fingers slightly relax their tight
grip of the bar. I glance at the water glistening in the sun. I turn around and
admire the kaleidoscope of kites, circling, spinning, dancing in the air like
colorful butterflies. I take a deep breath. I smile. I scream out of the top of
my lungs, “YEAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!” I laugh. I scream again. A happy tear rolls down
my sun-kissed cheek. I’m completely and utterly in the moment. I’m present. I
feel alive. I have found joy. I have found the courage to try something new.
I came back from that trip with two questions: How do I find more joy, flow, freedom, love, well-being, happiness, purpose in my life? How do I find the courage to change my life, which seems so perfect on the outside?
The answer: Unhustle.
After that trip, I transformed my life.
I downsized my company. I decluttered everything around me that didn’t bring me joy or was useful. I spent months focusing on my well-being, connecting with myself and nature, practicing mindfulness, deep listening, and soul searching. I got very grounded in my values. I connected with my purpose in life. I joined the Human Potential Institute and became certified as a Human Potential Coach and a Biohacker.
The Unhustle lifestyle design human movement was born during my 9-month coaching program. We inspire people to get out of their busy, stuck, stressed out routine and design a life that brings them joy and meaning. Unhustle means focusing on our well-being, creating experiences, playing, slowing down, simplifying, being mindful, and connecting with what’s truly important.
By creating Unhustle, I have elevated my purpose in life. By focusing on my well-being, I have drastically improved my mental and physical health. By building a tribe of likeminded people and doing the things I love, I experience joy every day. I’m mindful. I’m focused. I’m a lot more productive. I’m a lot more creative. I’m happy.
That’s what Unhustle can bring to your life too.
Do. Fast. Busy. Stress. Eat, work, sleep, repeat. Pressure. Work more. Sleep less. Buy more. Burnout. Social media. Expectations. Demands. Long hours. Hard days. Always connected. Extreme exhaustion. Rat race. Quantity over quality.
One of the United States’ worst crimes, according to cultural historian and social critic Morris Berman, is the cultivation of a “culture of hustling.”
It’s a popular theme in the U.S. Yet, we are not alone. Europe and Asia suffer too. It’s a worldwide phenomenon. In her Ted talk, 17-year-old Yeo Eun Shin shows a student perspective from Korea about Hustle Culture. In China, it’s called “996”—9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week.
Some highly influential individuals glorify the hustle mentality. Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO and co-founder of VaynerMedia, sends out the “Hustler’s Digest.” He calls hustle, “The most important word. Ever.” He says that working 9 to 6 is not enough. Marissa Mayer, the former president and chief executive officer of Yahoo!, says you can work 130 hours a week—as long as you are strategic about when you sleep, shower and go to the bathroom! Elon Musk is known for sleeping on the factory floor during “production hell” and says working 80-90 hour weeks is normal.
We are human beings, not human doers.
Long work hours, practically living in our offices, sleeping less, and working more doesn’t make us productive, happy, or healthy. Instead, it leaves us stressed out and burned out. While some founders and entrepreneurs praise hustling, we are losing our creativity. We are losing our humanity.
What’s Your Life Worth To You?
It all starts with finding the courage to change your life.
Change is hard, and we need inspiration, motivation, and reward. The first
step towards complete transformation is awareness. By being aware of the
problem, we can commit to a new way of living. Instead of being busy, focus on
mind, body, and digital well-being. Instead of getting distracted in
meaningless activities, take time to connect with yourself, others, and nature.
Instead of going through your days stressed, find time to exercise, breathe,
and just be. Have the courage to unplug from your phone and connect with
yourself and other people. Carve out time in your day for daydreaming without
distractions. Take care of your body and mind. Find the things that bring you
joy and commit to doing them. Join our movement to Unhustle and surround
yourself with likeminded people. Learn. Get inspired. Take action. Find
accountability. Imagine a different life — a new way of living.
The opposite is doing nothing. Staying busy. Scrolling. Finding happiness in material possessions only lasts a fleeting moment. Spending hours online in search of connections that can only be found offline. Not taking care of your physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being. Working more so you can own more, which only adds more stress. Until one day you get that dreaded phone call or doctor’s visit. Your health is suffering. Your spouse is sick. Or even worse, you die. We are all going to die. That’s a fact. But do you want to die smiling or regretting what you could have done with your life?
Bronnie Ware worked for several years as a caregiver for people who were dying. She went on to write an internationally best-selling book, “The Five Regrets Of The Dying.” Here are the top five regrets:
- I wish I dared to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
- I wish I’d dared to express my feelings.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Find that courage. Decide what brings you joy. Focus on your well-being. Figure out a way to work better with more focus.
Because if not now, then when?
Unhustle offers solutions to increase your courage and connect with your joy and well-being. Through the power of individual and group coaching, corporate wellness programs, workshops, online learning, and transformational retreats, we are taking action to change as many lives as we can while we are on this planet. We are doing it because we believe in humanity. And because I want to make my parents proud.
The Unhustle Movement
We are on a mission to impact 1 million lives. Here are the results, so far:
We’ve reached more than 12,000 people from all over the world. Individuals from Australia, New Zealand, France, Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Bulgaria, Croatia, Norway, Belgium are reaching out to us and saying they are fully on board with the concept.
We have received international attention with articles published in CNN Business, Thrive Global, and Medium, and in interviews such as the Core Connections Podcast.
My husband and I completely transformed our own lives. We now live between Lake Tahoe and Baja, two beautiful places we enjoy. We paddleboard, kiteboard and mountain bike. Likeminded individuals surround us. We are connected with a much bigger purpose, changing people’s lives with the Unhustle movement. My blood results are so good that my doctor wants my business cards to pass out to her clients. And, we are not the only ones who have transformed our lives with the Unhustle movement.
Steve Nichols, an actor, couldn’t perform because he felt so overwhelmed by personal issues. By simplifying and decluttering, he created more time and space in his life. He now goes on major auditions and pursues his passion. You can watch Steve talk about taking the time to Unhustle.
Mel and Jeff, two tech entrepreneurs who experienced burnout, decided to change their lives. Mel prepared a PowerPoint presentation titled “If Not Now, Then When?” to convince Jeff they needed a change. Inspired by Unhustle, the couple decided to change their company. Their employees worked remotely while they traveled the United States with their pup, visiting national parks, and working from the road. You can listen to the interview with Mel on the Unhustle Podcast.
Inspired by us changing our lives, Curtis and Arlene decided to change theirs. Curtis quit his job. Arlene sold her business. The couple and their two dogs plan to travel for the next 10 years around the world. On their first stop, they visited us in Baja. We talked about courage, travel, and Unhustle in our Baja home, and you can listen to it on the Unhustle Podcast.
A millionaire decided to simplify his life, sell some of his businesses, and enjoy life.
Carl Honore decided to change his life and slow down. By doing so, he finally found time to read a full bedtime story to his kids. Considered the God Father of the Slow Movement, Carl has written four international bestsellers and presented two TED talks to inspire people to slow down. You can listen to our conversation on the Unhustle Podcast.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”-Mark Twain
Courage, Joy, Well-Being
There’s a new human being in the world today, and that’s you. I believe you can create a different life starting today. You can get out of hustle mode, stress, information overload, consumerism, and burnout. You can design a life full of joyful, meaningful moments. You can let go of expectations, material possessions, competition, and work-until-you-drop mentality. By finding more focus, happiness, and health, you can make a more significant impact with your businesses, improve your focus and productivity, and most of all, increase the quality of your life.
All you need is to shift your perspective and find the courage to make a change. To live a life based on your values. To do the things that bring you joy. To take time each day for your well-being. You can elevate your mind, body, and digital well-being, create meaningful connections, simplify your life, and enjoy rich experiences. By doing so, you can become a better entrepreneur, employee, parent, spouse, family member, and friend. You can focus on work with purpose, have more joy and freedom, leave a lasting impact on the world, and have a 360-degree life.
And you don’t have to wait. You can start today. Join us in our Unhustle Movement and start a new way of living. Get the courage. Simplify. Find joy. Improve your well-being. And live your life.
Stop wishing and start living.
Stop clicking and start believing.
Stop scrolling and start dreaming.
Stop hustling and start unhustling.