Are you familiar with “the hustle”? It goes something like this…
You wake up. Check your phone. Brush your teeth, go to the toilet, and check your phone again. You get ready for the day. Maybe you go to the gym, do your meditation routine, or check your email… or all of that. You rush to your job or coworking space, where you spend the day working and scarfing down meals in between meetings. When you finally “finish” work (because let’s be real, you’re checking your email after-hours anyway), you go meet a friend or spend the evening watching Netflix or another activity that will help you relax. You go to sleep and do it all over again the next day.
It’s exhausting, but hey, at least you got sh*t done. You’ll get your break someday… right?
I used to think that this type of routine was exclusively reserved for people stuck in 9-5 jobs, and that’s why I quickly ran away from corporate. Since starting my own business a few years ago, I realized that this was not the case.
It seems that everywhere I go, people are suffering from the “hustle culture” pandemic. By hustle culture, I mean the collective urge we currently seem to feel as a society to work harder, stronger, faster. To grind and exert ourselves at our maximum capacity, every day, and accomplish our goals and dreams at a lightning speed that matches the digital world we’ve built around ourselves.
Don’t get me wrong, working hard is important. Being raised by a single immigrant parent who rose out of poverty and worked hard to build a better future for our family, I first-hand witnessed the value of being persistent towards your dreams, never giving up, and constantly striving for a better life. We can’t sit around expecting for our circumstances to improve without putting in the work and effort.
With that being said, I’m seriously questioning whether hours clocked in equals output produced. In both the corporate and entrepreneurial worlds, I’ve watched people run around like chickens with their heads cut off, rushing from one meeting to another, feverishly checking off tasks, and not making time for much other than work or other “productive” activities. Needless to say, under these circumstances, self-care becomes an afterthought.
This attachment to the hustle is doing us more harm than good. Just this year, Americans have hit record-high levels of stress, anxiety, and anger: 55% of Americans report feeling stressed about their lives, which is 20% higher than the global average. Working too hard is costing us our mental and physical health on so many levels.
It makes me wonder, how much of our work is genuinely productive, and how much of it is an addiction to being busy?
I’ve been experimenting with this in my business this year: I’ve worked 40+ hour weeks, as well as 15 hour weeks. I’ve noticed that there is actually little correlation with the hours that I clock in versus the money that I make. In fact, I’ve made twice as much income working half the time enough times to convince me that it’s not about the quantity of hours I’m putting towards my business, but rather the quality.
And yet, I still feel guilty when I take breaks and work fewer hours than my colleagues. When everyone around me is busy building sales funnels, creating courses, posting in Facebook groups, and doing, doing, doing. I can’t help but wonder — am I wrong for not wanting to feed into this manic hustle?
Personally, the intention behind creating my own business was so I could have financial, location, and time freedom, to name some. So if I find myself grinding away at projects that eat up every minute of my free time, investing in so much outsourcing and support that I hardly have profit leftover, and feeling so overwhelmed that I can’t have a meal with my friend without needing to check my phone… am I really honoring my intention? Or, am I keeping myself busy with distractions for the sake of feeling like I’m doing a good job?
When you know what you’re working on and why you’re working towards it, then everything that doesn’t serve that goal can take a backseat. The most productive (and results-yielding) work I’ve done came from being intentional about my vision to empower visionary leaders to tell stories that connect them deeply to their audience, uplevel their brand, and scale their business with impact. My “why” is to create more moments of genuine connection, so that people can finally start seeing one another as human beings (not human doings).
That is what I hold near and dear to my heart. As long as I’m honoring that with my work, then my business is a success.
I truly believe that you can have a fulfilling career, earn abundantly, and have time to do what you love. Not only do I believe it, but I’ve created this in my life and helped my clients do the same. In a world that is inundated with distractions, busy-ness, and addiction to hustling, there is merit in taking a step back and looking at the big picture.
What would life be like if you slowed down, just a little? If you took your time waking up, scheduled breaks for self-care, were fully present when you were with your loved ones, and made your working hours as productive and focused as possible so that you had less of them?
Sometimes it’s better to take one step backwards so you can take two steps forward, instead of incrementally plowing through life and being forced to slow down when you inevitably burn out.
Whether you’re pursuing a career with a company or are an entrepreneur is irrelevant. We hustle too much, and it’s killing our focus and productivity. We are not like the machines we’ve built, and evolution is going to take a while (a few thousands of years, at least) to catch up our biological bodies with the hyper-connected, lighting-speed, automated digital environment that we’ve created. At the end of the day, we are human, which means we need to eat, pee, sleep, connect, and find fulfillment and meaning in our life. We can’t do that if we are filling every single pocket of time with a task so we can build our empire faster.
Take your time. Take care of yourself. And, whenever you find yourself rushing through life, take a step back and ask: “Why the rush? What am I actually working towards?” Don’t lose sight of why you’re pouring your life force into your work in the first place — so long as you hold your vision close to your heart, your hard work will always produce instead of distract.