The phrase “soft life” originated in the Nigerian influencer community, and to live a soft life means to reject hustle culture and to live a life without struggle and stress.
When I first heard about the soft life movement, I immediately thought, sign me up! As a recovering workaholic, I’m always looking for something that will encourage me to prioritize self-care. For years my mantra was “Everyday I’m hustling!” And I wore busy like a badge of honor.
“I’m a machine,” I’d say when people asked me how I juggled all of my writing projects with teaching full-time. Then in January 2020, I was diagnosed with cancer. I was forced not only to slow down but to reevaluate my values, too. I finally started to understand the meaning of the phrase “health is wealth.” Nevertheless, I’m still a girl with goals. And I couldn’t grasp how I could achieve my professional, personal, and creative goals and still live a soft life. I also didn’t think I could afford it.
Take a look at any of the thousands of videos under #softlife on Instagram or TikTok and you’ll see women showing off a jet-setting lifestyle, lounging on beaches or boats. And when they’re not traveling, they’re cruising through town in their Lexus, off to meet friends for dinner and drinks at upscale restaurants, but not before getting dressed in couture from a closet that rivals that of Carrie Bradshaw.
Is this version of a soft life the one we should reach for? Here’s how to get an authentic soft life without sacrificing your well-being.
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Pour More Into Yourself
How on earth was I supposed to live a life of both leisure and luxury with no rich relatives to foot the bill? I’m currently a full-time freelance writer, which certainly isn’t a career path one chooses to get rich quick. Plus, as a Black woman, I’m up against a wage gap that keeps getting wider.
But for Jasmine “Jaz” Turner, a 25-year-old content creator and entrepreneur based in Atlanta, Georgia, living a soft life isn’t about having Chanel this and Gucci that.
“Soft life means pouring into myself,” she says. ”And then giving to other people and to my work from my overflow.”
Turner says that living a soft life also means choosing the path of least resistance.
“I don’t ever do anything I don’t want to do,” she says. No, this doesn’t mean she’s skipping out on paying taxes. She simply refuses to do things that don’t align with what she wants for her life.
Listen to Your Body and Mind
Living a soft life means living an authentic life, Turner says. But she had to learn that lesson the hard way. After graduating summa cum laude from Spelman College she enrolled in law school at Emory University.
“Law school was all about hustling,” she says. “Hustle culture and grinding literally started to affect me physically.”
She struggled with skin rashes, hair loss, weight loss, weight gain, irregular sleep patterns, and even gut health problems while in law school. So she quit. In February of 2021, Turner left law school and a few months later enrolled in an MBA program. Listening to herself is another part of living a soft life.
“Every single decision, whether it’s waking up and going to the gym in the morning or a big decision like whether to go get my MBA, I’m asking what feels genuinely right to me,” Turner says.
For Funmi Ford, a content creator and stylist based in Birmingham, Alabama, adopting a soft life meant first learning not to tie her worth to her work. If a brand deal fell through or if she wasn’t getting the media attention she wanted, her self-esteem took a hit.
“I was running after things that probably were not meant for me, but I wanted them because of how it would look, the status, the money,” she says. “After years of thinking I have to go hard every single day, I saw an imbalance.”
A wife and mother of two, Ford wanted a life that allowed her to spend more time with her family and to spend more time pampering herself. Once she worked seven days a week. Now she only works on content creation two or three days a week.
A Soft Life Can Be Hard Work
If you equate soft living with laziness, think again.
“Soft life does not mean you don’t work hard,” Turner says. “It’s working hard for what you want to, for things you’re passionate about. I stop when I get tired. I keep going when I get inspired.”
Ford echoes this idea: “I still work, I just don’t overwork,” she says. Both Ford and Turner have found more success since they started working less.
Turner has built a thriving career as a content creator and has launched her own line of luxury pajamas. Ford has been featured in national magazines and has landed collaborations with major brands like Amazon.
Soft Life Not Just For Gen Z
Because the #softlife trend is popular on platforms like TikTok, it may seem like it’s a lifestyle only for 20-somethings. But Lisa Bonner, a New York-based attorney and author of the book “The LegaliTEAS of Entrepreneurship: The Relentless Pursuit of Excellence and Balance in Starting Your Own Business,” thinks the soft life should be for people of all ages. She believes the pandemic was a wake-up call for many people who once subscribed to hustle culture.
“People are really seeing that life passes you by and time waits for no one,” she says. “Figure out how to pull back, adjust, and really fix your crown so you can enjoy the time that you’ve been allotted on this earth.” Like Turner, Bonner constantly checks in with herself.
“I assess every situation that comes my way to see if I feel like doing it before I commit to it,” she explains. “I think what we all need to do is take a minute and assess, does this work for me? Does this work for my time? Is this worth my energy? Does this work for my spirit, my state of mind?”
Bonner also recommends doing at least one thing every day that brings you joy. For her that’s daily walks, meditation, or rides on her Peloton.
READ MORE: How To Life A Rich Life With Ramit Sethi
The Soft Life And The 9 to 5
For Turner, living a soft life also means ditching the strong Black woman troupe. But she recognizes that her mother’s hard work gave her many of the opportunities she has today.
“I think the only reason I’ve been able to live a very soft life is that I came from a strong Black woman,” she says.
Turner also acknowledges that living a soft life is often easier for people who work for themselves have more control over their schedules. But even if you work a traditional 9 to 5, you can adopt elements of a soft life.
Bonner, Ford, and Turner all agree that figuring out what you want is essential to set goals that align with your values. Figure out what you really want for your life and your career and start letting go of things that don’t vibe with that vision. Once you figure out what you want, you may discover you need to pick up a side hustle that you will eventually turn into your own business.
“Sometimes you have to hustle to get to that soft (life),” Turner says. “But make sure you’re hustling for yourself.”
Taking care of yourself shouldn’t only be for “Self-Care Saturday.” Do at least one thing for yourself each day.
“If you work a 9 to 5, you might need to go to bed a little bit earlier and wake up a little bit earlier to spend an hour or even 30 minutes to pour into yourself,” Turner says. But she believes you’re worth it.
Check in With Yourself
Use a journal to check in with yourself regularly. This will help you stay on track. Bonner also recommends using your journal to jot down three things you’re grateful for each day.
Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready. That’s Bonner’s motto and secret to success. She says that when she was in law school and even when she was studying for the bar, she never pulled an all-nighter or sacrificed her overall wellness.
“And this was 20 years ago when nobody was thinking about ‘self-care’” she says. Her strategy was simple. She studied six days a week and always took one day off. She would work on projects as soon as she got them instead of cramming at the last minute.
“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” she says.
Ford says careful planning helps her live her soft life too. For example, Mondays are for sending pitches to brands and meeting with her manager. On Tuesdays, she shoots videos and photos. Each week, assess your workload and plan accordingly.
Tap Into Your Feminine Energy
Nurturing feminine energy is a priority for Ford and one of the ways she lives a soft life. For her, this might look like going to Atlanta for a weekend of pampering. But Turner says it also can be as simple as “going to bed pretty.” Don’t be afraid to slide into some silk pajamas and take some selfies.
After talking to Bonner, Ford, and Turner, I realized that I’m already living a soft life! No, I’m not flying to Dubai next week or driving a luxury SUV, but I spend my mornings sipping green tea and writing in my journal. I exercise every day and I meditate before bed. I am doing work that I love and defining success for myself and, thanks to my soft living, I have the energy I need to go after my goals.
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