What does hustling look like to me
The belief “you have to hustle to be successful” and go-go-go energy have been drilled into me. I have to do more and more and more, because I needed to BE more. The energy keeps pushing me harder and harder because nothing I've done so far is good enough. It feels like a judgment on what I've done has been insignificant, that I should’ve used my time better, that I should’ve done something more impactful, and that I should’ve gotten better or more results.
Hustling is like mercury poisoning
Limited exposure is ok, but the increased amount of doses and greater increments create deadly poisoning with long-term complications.
That mentality led me to become a burnt-out workaholic. It fed into my core wound of “not feeling good enough” as it urges me to push harder and harder. It can feel oppressive and hard to breathe at times as I have drained myself to prove my worth, perform exponentially at a higher output level, and provide superhuman results.
As I said, limited spurts of it are ok but continual, ongoing exposure? No, thanks. I've been there.
Yes, I do appreciate what this energy has done for me as it allows me to do so much in a short period of time (like what I've done recently). It gave me the harder push I needed to just get things done without overthinking things or allowing my doubts and fears to surface. I have also attributed my achievements to this energy, too.
That's why society keeps promoting the hustle culture
We see all the awesome results others achieve, and we want that for ourselves. The worst of it all is when we want it instantly without doing all the hard work.
And that is precisely what we don’t see under all the bright, shiny bobbles of the hustle culture. We turn a blind eye or don’t see how much they struggled, how much they sacrificed, and what were the hard decisions they had to make to get to where they are now. They made hustling look easy and effortless. Even if they did share their struggles, you still will never know their entire story. All that under-the-iceberg dedication, hard work, pain, sweat, and tears are often unseen and unmentioned.
Those who feel up to the challenge could be rapidly chugging gulps full of mercury due to comparison syndrome and chasing after moving goal posts. That is NOT sustainable long term.
This is my choice, and I have to own up to it
And the harsh truth is that I am the one who is doing this to myself. Being a solopreneur means I am my own slave-driving boss. I’m wearing all the hats. I have to (well, chose to) juggle and dash between various roles using different parts of my brain and building skill sets that don't come naturally to me. I swung the pendulum super hard lately as I wanted to launch my business by this particular deadline I set for myself. And I am now feeling the effects of the pendulum swinging back equally hard the other way.
This work burst can be a phase… or a lifestyle. It is MY choice whether to opt in or out of the hustle culture.
And I want to do it differently.
I don't have to wait “until I'm successful” to establish the lifestyle I want. It can be done now. I can put into place the structures and framework for my desired lifestyle as I'm building my business now, so it doesn't become a jarring hard steer at the helm later when implementing those changes. This can become my current status quo. The best time to do this is NOW—not later, not until something else happens first, and definitely not because I needed someone else's permission or agreement. That means when I do build my team, they know what they're signing up for and are in alignment with that type of work culture and environment I have created.
This is my lesson. It is my aim to harmonize my energy better productively and ecologically because I know what burnout feels like. Above all, I know what it could do to me, and I say “no” to ever getting to that point again.
I choose to live my life more holistically, instead of hustling towards a goal and missing out on enjoying life along the way.
It takes courage to face all this and decide to do it differently. It’s uncomfortable, counterintuitive at times, and worst case, painful. All I can keep doing is intentionally choosing a different way with each step I take.
One single step at a time—no matter how small—is how you change your life. Think differently. Come up with alternative solutions. Embrace a divergent way of life than what is popular or idolized. Choosing a lifestyle that works for you and what makes you feel alive, fulfilled, and happy.
So what could that look like for you?
- What kind of life can you lead and create for yourself without hustling as your North Star?
- What are the boundaries you have to put in place to achieve that?
- How can you give yourself more self compassion when comparison syndrome strikes and you feel like you haven’t done enough compared to others or where you think you should’ve been? (By the way, that is something you arbitrarily defined.)
- What pace could feel realistic and truly right for you?
- How can you put into practice gratitude and self reflection to celebrate all that you’ve achieved and grown so far from your progress?
- Where can you find another role model who has also opted out of the hustle culture to learn from?
I chose the word “divergent” intentionally to describe that possible way of life as that word mathematically means “having no finite limits” according to Dictionary.com. There are no limits to what you can create in your life, only what you’ve mentally boxed yourself in with your beliefs.
Dream big and work smart at the pace that feels right to you.
P.S. There's more to this …if you're interested. Click here to read about my personal behind-the-scenes story that led to this post.
Psst, the featured photo has been modified by the author. The original photo is by tnarg via pexels.