Living in a Hustle Culture driven society, you feel a constant desire to produce. It is ten times worst when you’re an Entrepreneur. Whether it’s producing content, products, or solutions, you feel a great pressure to create at high volumes to satisfy consumers’ hunger for newness and instant gratification. You’re constantly putting yourself out there, delivering work to clients, building partnerships, and connecting with your team. You push your mind, body, and soul and its never-ending demand on your time, energy and skills.
No matter how much you work. It never feels like it’s enough. There’s not enough time 24 hours and never an end to the number of decisions you have to make just to get through the day.
It’s never enough
As someone who’s managing my perfectionist and overachiever tendencies, it’s extremely anxiety-inducing to operate this way. I constantly struggle feeling like I’m not doing enough. It’s a crippling pressure to do more, faster, better, and smarter.
The drive to hustle more becomes an insatiable cycle of self-rejection. An unmanageable drive for radical self-development to a point where you’re almost unrecognizable.
At first, you’re so proud of yourself for what you’re able to do. You invest more of yourself into it. Before you know it, your misguided attempts result in a shell of life in a pretty package of disillusion, fueled by external validation.
I have seen many of my colleagues struggle to keep up with the hustle. They grind away, neglecting their health and wellbeing chasing an ever-moving goal post. There’s always more money to be made, achievements to cross off, and places they can add to their dating profiles of where they’ve been. They never feel like they’re good enough for their own accomplishments, develop imposter syndrome, and become disassociated with the image of themselves they worked so hard to create.
I’ve also seen people who are wildly successful. They achieved everything they wanted in life and still feel unsatisfied. They described feeling lost and unsure of what to do next because they’re conditioned to always be “doing something”. Whether it’s launching another company, product, reaching another round of fundraising, or even a life milestone, there’s more to acquire.
To be fair, I’ve also seen people very happy, doing what they love because they found the right balance. They know when they need to move at the speed of light and when to ground themselves in the present. Those people are very annoying (jk, not really).
Cost and analysis
There’s a tipping point in everyone’s journey where we realize the cost of what we have to sacrifice and endure – a disintegrating quality of life – is no longer worth it. There’s a growing number of essential lessons from influential people combatting Hustle Culture. Lessons like the importance of rest like Ariana Huffington, managing one’s health from Steve Jobs, and building businesses and products, not just for the sake of it but for a greater purpose to serve humanity like Elon Musk. And of course, there are criticisms to that because it tells us we’re hustling to our doom and not towards this new-age American dream like we thought.
Naturally, we rebel against this notion. We tell ourselves it’s easier for them to emphasize being instead of doing. To rest instead of grinding away and focusing on purpose or transcendence over doing what you can to survive when they’ve already achieved it all! Let’s be real. They have millions to billions of dollars to spend and are surrounded by people who can help them. What do they have to complain about?
When you’re at the level they are/were, it’s hard to compare to those still at earlier stages of success. It can be frustrating sometimes when they try to relate to the average person. It’s also frustrating to empathize with successful people when you recognize their privilege. It becomes it’s easier to focus on the differences, instead of the similarities.
What if it’s less so a complaint but more so a warning from the other side? As economically distant as celebrities, serial entrepreneurs, and thought leaders can be, they have a point. These messages to de-glamourize Hustle Culture are well-intended reminders that it’s not what we think it is. Sure, it looks great on the outside – the money, access, and privileges but it can’t replace time, health, and meaningful relationships once, all things you sacrifice to get to the top.
The balance between hustling to advance yourself and living as a human being (instead of a human doing) is critical to establish.
To find that balance, we must return to our purpose. We need to compassionately check in with ourselves, ask ourselves hard questions, and be open to how this repositions our focus moving forward.
Questions for self-reflection
Why are we hustling so hard? What will achieving our goals enable us to do? Will it give us access to more money, privileges, freedom, etc? Or is it psychologically proving something to ourselves or someone else that we can achieve something? Are we solving a problem the world needs or are we doing this to satisfy a trauma wound (not being good enough, not being loved or chosen)?
What happens when we achieve our goals? What are we sacrificing to get it? Our health, time, relationships, present freedom? Is the price worth what you thought it was when you started out?
What does being our best self look like?
Are you taking care of yourself – mind, body, and soul or are you sacrificing it for an image of yourself you won’t recognize in a bad way? How can you incorporate more time for your own personal growth, wellbeing, and investing in meaningful relationships? And lastly, where does your purpose fit into all of this?
How can you contribute your best self into the world but still show up for yourself and your loved ones?
It’s all about balance
I don’t think you have to choose between the two – hustling or simply existing. It’s how you hustle and when you grind it out that matters. Pay attention to how late you put your laptop away. Stop answering nonessential emails when someone needs your attention. And be present in your relationships.
As challenging as it can be, giving yourself permission to turn off the autopilot mode is a rebellion step towards breaking free from societal expectations/Hustle Culture. This will allow you to begin rediscovering who you are. It removes the pressure to conform and perform. This allows more space and bandwidth for self-discovery, wonder, and new experiences that align with a more authentic self.
Being raised Buddhist, I was encouraged to seek enlightenment beyond worldly possessions. Don’t worry, I’m not trying to convert you or anything. Only to share that the practice of looking beyond material goods, temporary satisfaction, and distraction has helped me tremendously in my personal development. Whenever I ground myself in Buddhist and spiritual teachings, it allows me to break out of the hustle mentality and practice with more intention. Intention with what I do, how I do it, and who I do it with.
As I advance on my Personal Development Journey, I am learning to pivot my hustle from a method to prove my worth to focusing more on satisfying my curiosity and fulfillment. This mindset shift alleviates the pressure to achieve for achievement’s sake. It allows me to center my goals on contributing more to what I want to see in the world – compassion for healing, growth to pursue one’s purpose, and making an impact to improve the lives of others.
Not only have I noticed a reduced rate in burnouts but also improvements in selecting projects, jobs, and even relationships aligned with my values and goals. Learning when to hustle and why I do it allowed me to increase my self-awareness and consciousness towards my purpose. I’m excited to see how this perspective change will impact my qualify of life and how I show up for myself and others.