“Hustle and grind”
“Be about that hustle”
We’ve all heard these catchy hustle-isms, and we get it.
The world is run by hustlers, apparently.
You’ve got to hustle to get ahead.
But is that even true?
And what does ‘getting ahead’ really mean, anyway.
I’m going to debunk the myth that you have to hustle and hustle more to get what you want in life or get the life that you want.
Not just debunk it, I’m going to counter it with the opposite.
I have an argument for rest. More rest. Something most of us need. Yes, including you.
You should know, I’m not totally against hustle, particularly in short bursts. I work in creative cycles, producing a lot, then resting, rinse repeat. I learned this the hard way. After burning out many times getting intoxicated on the hustle train.
First, here’s why more hustle is counterproductive
1. Law of Diminishing Returns
The Law of Diminishing Returns (applied to work) is the concept that the more you work, you eventually reach a point where the quantity and quality of output declines.
In other words, if you do hour after hour of work, your output quality and quantity will be high…up until a certain point. After that point, your results start declining.
It becomes harder to produce quality once you reach a point. For most of us, we know that point.
This translates into: too much hustle is actually not a good thing.
2. Work, without clear focus and priorities, is exhausting and yields poor results
Doing a lot of ‘stuff’ can feel like productive. You can brand yourself the Hustler supreme. But busyness does not equal effectiveness.
And one of the best ways to get clearer on your priorities and what you should focus on is to stop and rest. Regularly.
Allow your mind the space it needs to chew on ideas, projects, plans. (More on rest coming up).
3. How do you want to spend the hours of your life?
What do you not want to regret on your deathbed?
This sounds like such a dramatic question.
Sometimes we need dramatic questions. We need them to wake us up from the hustle-crazed-non-stop-hamster-wheel we’ve found ourselves on.
I was a nurse. I’ve been right there at the bedside of people who’ve just passed away or who are terminal. I’ve had my share of conversations with those who were facing the end of life.
Want to know what none of them regret? None of them regretted not working more.
Don’t take my word for it. There’ve been studies on this.
People’s top life regrets tend to be things like ‘not spending more time with my loved ones’, ‘spending too much time worrying’ ‘not standing up for myself and what I believed in’.
As you might guess, ‘Not having hustled more’ isn’t one of the common regrets. In fact, people tend to wish they had worked less.
Ask yourself what you’d regret.
Take (regular) account of how you’re spending your hours.
I make the decision to stop and think about the hours of my life and how I’d like to use them. Do I want to spend more hours hustling? Or more hours doing things that feel meaningful, purposeful, on path?
4. What exactly do people mean when they say you should hustle more?
It’s an empty phrase. What exactly is hustle?
Work Over-time? Work 50 hours, 60 hours? focus harder? don’t watch TV? what specifically is it?
When people tell you to hustle, what are they telling you to do?
There’s no clear answer, except that it relates to working a lot.
Without a container around what that looks like (a certain amount of hours, interspersed with healthy breaks), it doesn’t carry any translatable meaning to a full life.
It’s just, what I call, a hustle-ism.
A catchy phrase that’s caught on, but probably is poor advice.
Rest matters just as much, if not more, than work
I’m drawn to the hustle mentality, too. I love what I do and tend to work a lot. A lot a lot. Too much a lot.
To counter this, I’m intentional about my self-care, and especially rest. I peel myself (sometimes kicking and screaming. Okay, slight exaggeration) away from the computer and phone early evening so I can start relaxing my mind. My mind needs to rest (more on this coming up).
I book trips where I will have time to do nothing. I love adventure travel. But that type of travel also feeds into on the go hustle-ness. So I balance it with trips where I’ll have time (and space alone) to rest. (for some reason, I sleep deeper in a hotel than at home as long as the bed is comfortable).
Here are ideas for you to try so you get more (and better) rest
*Get deeper sleep
If you can’t carve out time for more sleep, make every minute of sleep count.
- De-screen by a certain time in the evening. Also, try short periods throughout the day where you put the phone, laptop away.
- Adjust your sleep time. There’s speculation that we get our best sleep between 10 pm and 2am. It’s to do with our circadian rhythm. For me, this is definitely true. The later I go to sleep, the poorer the quality of my sleep. You have to find what works best for you, but simple changes like this can have a big impact on how deep you sleep through the night.
- Figure out what/if food and drink are affecting your sleep. Are there certain foods, eaten late, that affect your sleep? This is more common than people even realize. You can keep a notebook or jot down a sidenote in your journal of what you last ate/drank, with the time, and then make a note in the morning. Track to see if you notice any patterns. Bullet-Journal-style tracking also works well with this.
*Get active rest
I wrote about active rest in 11 Ways to Detox the Mind:
Most of us are lacking activities where our bodies are active, but our mind is at semi-rest. Examples are running, painting, or other hobbies where we ‘zone out’ while doing them. There’s no prescription, one size fits all for this, you have to find your own best fit.
How much active rest are you getting? How often?
Find the right activities that feel like active rest for you and layer them into your life.
*Nap on weekends (weekdays, too, when you can)
There’s not much sweeter than turning off the world mid-afternoon for a nap. It’s like heaven.
*Rest your mind.
Our minds are exhausted, with nonstop thinking.
Meditation, journaling, letting go of overthinking and worrying, self-forgiveness, all help the mind take a break.
Here’s one of my relaxation meditations. Enjoy!
(Not in the space to relax right now? Subscribe to the YouTube channel so you can do this meditation later.)
Create habits around regularly clearing the mind of repeated patterns of thoughts that don’t serve you and take up a lot of mental and emotional energy.
Don’t feel guilty about dropping the hustle mentality. The only time I embrace it is for short periods, followed by more rest.
Think of ways to add more rest (active and passive) into your life.
Your mind and body will thank you.
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