it started with two simple words…
My heart sank. I was happy and excited, don’t get me wrong.
Yet… you know, also completely terrified!
Life was good. At least, it was better than it used to be. I finally had good clients, a more consistent income, and a business riding the wave of momentum.
Each month, we hit new goals.
No longer surviving… we were thriving!
Yet all that changed when I heard those two words. Not because I would soon have a daughter, but because I knew deep down the life I lived wasn’t sustainable.
Each morning I woke up and turned on my laptop.
Still in bed, I checked my emails, completed a few tasks, and quickly got ready.
I’d then work non-stop until six… seven… eight o’clock in the evening.
Too often, I worked weekends—but even if I didn’t I couldn’t get work off my mind.
It consumed me. Life consumed me!
I had a reason for all the hard work, of course. At least this is what I told myself.
I desired success. a good life. a better life for my family; both now and in the future…
Yet I made sacrifices in the pursuit of all this: time, energy, my relationships.
My constant state was busyness. I always had something to do. Always had something to say YES to! I realized my business owned me, not the other way around.
And so my heart sank once more.
This isn’t why I left my job to set up on my own; this was not who I wanted to be.
So I made a decision that placed me on a new path. One that fundamentally changed every aspect of my world.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Because to understand this change, we first need to Marty McFly back into the past to see where all this began…
or as my mother calls me, Matthew
This was me back in the day, a young lad from the North of England.
I had a normal upbringing with great parents and a stable family life. I loved Rugby League, playing and watching it. I loved Football and most other sports. I loved to be outside, spending late summer evenings in nature with my friends.
An outgoing youngster, full of energy and risk-taking adventure.
Yet there was always this anxious current pulsing inside of me, worried about this and that and overthinking almost every thought that crossed my mind.
As I got older, I grew shier; become more introverted, insulated, and reserved.
It didn’t just happen — it crept up on me like the tide can after a long and lazy afternoon.
By the time I reached an age where I came of age, I had become private and aloof.
Being around people exhausted me. Anxiety was in control of the wheel most days, although it wasn’t until much later in the story that I gained an awareness of this.
I was still happy, don’t get me wrong.
But I hid huge parts of myself deep below, unwilling to even allow “me” to access it.
Without knowing, it was this that would lead me toward writing and the eventual passion that became how I put bread on the table.
Yet none of that was to happen until I hit rock bottom for the first time in my life.
& lingering longing
In my early twenties, I crept out of my shell and found a new lease of confidence.
It led me to America and several summers working at Camp Ernst (just outside of Cinci)
Here, I could be someone new.
No longer shy. No longer reserved. No aloofness, not here… not I.
Before long, Cincinnati became a spiritual haven for me; a place to escape.
Yet huge parts of me remained locked away inside boxes of the mind until one day they all crashed to the floor after a summer of love transitioned into a winter of darkness.
Overwhelming emotions spilled from me. I couldn’t make sense of any of it.
So I picked up a pen in the hope writing may help.
My therapist in ink form; many wandering thoughts.
Not only did this period result in me writing my first book (Beyond Parallel) but it unleashed a series of awakenings.
For the first time, I realized I had anxiety; saw how much pressure I placed on myself.
I came to the conclusion I wasn’t only my biggest critic but didn’t even want to appreciate myself for who I was — I literally wished I was someone else.
It broke me: physically, emotionally, psychologically, and existentially.
Finding Myself in Words & Wonderment
The barrel that was me could no longer be corked.
I felt, all the emotions.
I felt, all the feelings.
A tricky period in time there is no doubt, but also one that led me to explore a series of questions that had remained hidden beneath the surface for far too long.
One book… then another… followed by a 3rd & 4th
Countless blog posts and articles, eventually people hiring me to write for them.
Writing remained my therapy but had also become my vocation (and how I added value).
And bit by bit I progressed step by step.
More clients. More money. More of the “right” kind of projects.
Month by month, I strode forward with the world at my feet.
Until that day with those words … i’m pregnant.
Hello Hustle, My Belittling Little Friend
I thought I was on the right path. I felt like I headed in the right direction.
Learning about my soon-to-be little Imogen changed that.
To be the father I wanted to be to her (and the son I already had, George), I would have to work less yet somehow provide more.
The math didn’t math … until I changed my perspective.
I realized I remained that nervous little boy from way back when, worried about this and that and what other people might think of me. Like most of us, I had been taught to work hard if in doubt.
That if you study hard and grind the gears, you’ll climb the ladder.
In time, you’ll figure it out … it will make sense … it will all be worth it.
In an instant, I saw how ingrained hustle culture was in me.
The long hours… the late nights… the constant saying YES and chasing of shiny objects… the worry of saying NO and missing out… how I compared myself to others…
I exchanged my time, health, mental well-being, and freedom for money & “success”.
But what was this so-called “success” … did it actually mean anything to me?
no. it. did. not.
So right there and then I made a commitment to escape the hustle.
It didn’t take long to see I made the right decision, more than tripling my income and halving my workload in just a couple of months.
More, I knew I had only scratched the surface…
from scratching the surface to digging a mile deep
I remain a work in progress.
Please, do not for one-second read this and assume I have it “figured out”.
I do not and sense I never will.
We are all but human, after all, and that means we’re fragile and imperfect souls.
Yet I live a fuller life these days; one built around the pursuit of Whole Life Balance.
(not the myth of work/life balance)
For starters, I am a man; not a perfect one, but one committed to growth.
I am a father to two beautiful souls who ground me and give me purpose.
And I am a partner to someone who completes me; two wandering souls that came together to feel whole and full; like a belly after a long afternoon picnic in the sun.
I continue to write because writing is how I express myself—it’s also how I decode the numerous thoughts that roam my mind.
If I have a question that lingers, I write about it; and word by word it starts to make greater sense.
Sometimes these words remain short and sweet, perfect for platforms like this or that.
Other times they become articles, ideal for a home like here or there.
And every now and again they transform into a book, like my latest: Beyond The Pale.
This fifth book of mine in particular holds a special place in my heart because it ignited my exploration into hustle culture.
Not just my own place in it, but society as a whole.
To say what I’ve found is eye-opening is quite an understatement.
I could not unsee what I saw, which is how the [no hustle] movement was born.
The [no hustle] is my personal playground to explore, experiment & express.
Yet it’s also a place for others to come and collaborate, contribute, and use as they need to…
If that’s you, I hope you join us, whether it’s on YouTube … across social … or by reading thought-provoking articles.
designed to both inspire and empower.
[no hustle] exists to help you cut through the noise—and you better believe this world we live in gets noisier by the day.
I find solace in this beautiful community.
I hope you do, too.
As for me and what comes next… who the hell knows.
If you want to be kept in the loop, sign up for the [no hustle] newsletter as that’s by far the best way to stay in touch with my wandering explorations and experimentations.
Whereas if you’re interested in hiring me to write for you, take a peek at my Ghostwriting Services and let me know about your project—I would love to know what you have planned.
You can also befriend and follow me here and here and here … I post (fairly) often.
Above all, I hope you use the moments after reading this for you and the journey you’re on. Think about it. Reflect on it.
Question your own relationship with the hustle.
If there’s one regret I have, it’s not doing so earlier.