HOW HUSTLE CULTURE IS SLOWLY KILLING US

By: MIGHTY PURSUIT TEAM

During a 2019 Major League Baseball playoff game, Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuña Jr. launched a ball into right field. Acuña assumed it would be a home run, so he didn't run very hard. Turns out it wasn't, and he only made it to first base on a lazy trot. His teammates called out his lack of hustle, and Acuña admitted he should've done better. In this context, a lack of hustle was seen as a costly mistake. Most of the time when we hear the word "hustle," it's from a coach wanting to motivate us to try hard and do whatever we can to help our teammates. That kind of collaborative hustle is admirable, and there's a time and place for it. Adam Sandler's recent movie Hustle tells the fictional story of aspiring NBA player Bo Cruz, a young hooper full of talent who lacks focus and direction. A Rocky-esque training montage in which Cruz runs through the hills and streets of Philadelphia reinforces the point that he can make it if he doesn't lose focus. In the context of a 60 minute basketball game, Cruz goes full effort. But as any athlete knows, the rest that comes in-between is what drives their success. However, young, mostly Millennial and Gen Z workers, have co-opted the term "hustle" to mean we need to be going at max speed all of the time. To be fair, the increasingly crowded job market has continually raised the bar of who gets in, and who can get highly specialized jobs. As Deep Work author Cal Newport put it, companies are now hiring "superstars" instead of local talent. The remote work revolution has made it so you can hire cream of the crop from around the world instead of the local commuter. This gives added pressure to constantly be tinkering our LinkedIn pages, adding new skills, or putting in a few extra hours to get noticed. It's part of hustle culture, defined as "the mentality that one must work all day every day in pursuit of their professional goals." And for many, this hustle culture has become a lifestyle. The #hustle hashtag has 29 million posts on Instagram and 5.4 billion total views on TikTok. Professional hustlers like Gary Vaynerchuck ("Gary Vee") show how you can get big returns if you just work a little harder. Granted, some of Gary Vee's content is fairly clever. In one recent TikTok, Gary Vee goes to a garage sale, buys vintage items like Hot Wheels cars and Barbie dolls, and resells them for three to four times what he bought them for. If you can flip items for more than you bought them for, that's smart, and that extra cash can go a long way. Another pro touted by hustle culture is that the barrier of entry is pretty low. You don't have to be a supergenius to play the game – you just have to work harder than everyone else. Hustle doesn't have to be bad, and hard work is typically a virtue. Still, it can get out of control if not honed properly. The name of this blog may sound extreme, but the seemingly "little" consequences can eat at us and precipitate our early decline. For instance, feeling guilty for not working. Buzzfeed author Anne Helen Petersen once mused that she felt bad for trading work for leisure time: "I’ve internalized the idea that I should be working all the time...things that should’ve felt good (leisure, not working) felt bad because I felt guilty for not working." How does that guilt manifest? The insatiable urge to check your work email. The nights spent working late into the evening for fear that your day's work wasn't enough. The idea that we must be in "go mode" from the moment we snooze our alarms. If you're sleeping, your competitors are working.If you're eating, it's fuel for you to produce MORE. Hustle culture teaches us that work is everything. You must maximize the 1440 minutes in a day, or you'll fall behind the rest of the pack. Because work in itself has become like a religion (Workism, as writer Derek Thompson recently put it), it's not even solely about output. It's a way of life that asserts working is good for your mind, body, and soul – your life's meaning is defined by it. “[Seeing work as everything] creates the assumption that the only value we have as human beings is our productivity capability — our ability to work, rather than our humanity,” researcher Aidan Harper told the New York Times. Just as plopping a child in front of the television 24/7 can have detrimental effects on their development, so too can working without a sustainable rhythm. How is hustle culture intentionally or unintentionally shaping us? By our estimation, hustle culture has hustled us, primarily by selling us on these five myths:

  • Hustle is good, slow is bad
  • Hustling is productive
  • Hustling is meaningful
  • Hustling has no side effects
  • Hustle isn't nuanced
 Yes, there's a bit of truth in these claims, but any good lie has a hint of truth and sounds convincing at first. How are these myths contributing to our detriment?

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MYTH #1: HUSTLE IS GOOD, SLOW IS BAD

On June 16, 2022, eight international runners convened in Oslo for the Diamond League meet, an elite track competition featuring some of the world's top athletes. Among them was local Norwegian Jakob Ingebrigtsen, a lanky 21-year-old sporting a track onesie and neon green shoes. The task at hand? A mile sprint requiring both speed and patience. It didn't take long for Ingebrigtsen to separate himself from the rest of the pack. By the last lap, he was closely trailed by Ollie Hoare of Australia, but triumphantly strode to the finish line for a mile time of 3:46.46, the fastest in 21 years. While Ingebrigtsen is a great runner, he's built to run quickly for a very short amount of time. Sustaining that sub-four minute pace for a whole marathon would be highly unlikely. The fastest marathon pace ever was 4:38 by Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya. Most marathon runners train by going intentionally slower than they would for a short sprint. It's about regulating your pace so you have energy for the long haul. We should approach work the same way, but instead sprint with a furious pace and assume that hustling is good, and going slow is bad. Why? Because not hustling is often associated with laziness. "Successful" people are constantly touting their extreme work habits, claiming that output is directly tied to hourly input. Tesla and Twitter boss Elon Musk once said that "no one ever changed the world on 40 hours a week.” And former Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer controversially explained how she worked 130 hours a week, saying it was possible "if you're strategic about when you sleep, when you shower, and how often you go to the bathroom." She even worked from the hospital after her twins were born. Easy as it is to judge Mayer, we're also prone to avoiding "slow." We grow frustrated when our two-day Amazon prime delivery takes three days. We get anxious if someone takes a while to text us back. We grow bored of movies that aren't action packed or take a while to develop. Patience is hard and honestly takes practice. There's no denying that it can be hard to wait for what we really want, and that our endurance can wane when aren't seeing breakthroughs. But exuding patience and slowing down your pace might just be an antidote to our physical and mental health. The World Health Organization did a study on overworking and concluded this: "WHO and ILO estimate exposure to long working hours (more than 55 hours a week) is common and causes large attributable burdens of ischemic heart disease and stroke. Protecting and promoting occupational and workers’ safety and health requires interventions to reduce hazardous long working hours." Slowing down could be a matter of life and death. But for some, that still might not be enough to stop. The fear of being brandished as lazy is enough to keep grinding away. But let's look a little closer: is deliberately doing nothing the same as laziness? Ernest Shackleton, the famed British explorer often lauded for his leadership in times of crisis, learned this distinction the hard way. Eager to get his crew to Antarctica on one famous mission, he ordered his crew to set sail despite warnings from locals at South Georgia Island. They worried that impending weather conditions could make traveling in the pack ice too dangerous. Shackleton pressed on, and unsurprisingly his crew soon became stuck in the ice. Recognizing his mistakes, Shackleton pivoted his approach to play the long game and keep crew morale high during a long wait for the ice to melt. Hustle culture often tells us to make a move for the sake of making a move. But what if, like in the case of Shackleton, our impetuous decisions are what set us back even further? It doesn't often feel like a win to take a deep breath, think, process, or stay put, but that intentional slowing down can prevent us from doing unnecessary work or effort in the first place. It's the old quality over quantity argument. We marvel at wines for the aging that refines their flavor. We commend a Christopher Nolan film that's been in the works for years as opposed to a haphazardly thrown together Hollywood B movie. Quality is inherently tied to our focus (and therefore slowness), and we can't hone that deep focus if we're constantly multitasking. Cognitive studies have even shown that multitasking can affect the brain's gray matter volume, which deals with decision making and memory. Iceland made headlines a few years ago for slashing its typical work week from 40 hours to 35 hours, while retaining the same pay. The result? No dropoff in productivity. They accomplished this by shortening and focusing meetings. They started their days earlier, setting out to work as efficiently as possible within the time they had. (Work smarter, not harder, essentially.) Yes, Iceland is a much smaller country than the United States at only 366,425 people, but their example can still be used as a blueprint in the U.S. More businesses are starting to recognize the value of slow work and sustainable work-life balance. As Deep Work author Cal Newport opined in a recent New Yorker article: "The central goal of Slow Productivity is to keep an individual worker’s volume at a sustainable level. A natural fear is that by reducing the amount of work each employee tackles at any given time, it might reduce the total amount of work an organization is able to complete, making it less competitive. This fear is unfounded. As argued, when an individual’s work volume increases, so does the accompanying overhead and stress, reducing both the time remaining to actually execute the tasks and the quality of the results," he said. Newport is right. It's important to remember that we aren't machines, and feeding more tasks into our brains doesn't make us more productive – it just makes us tired. If the classic Tortoise & The Hare children's story teaches us anything, it's not just that the tortoise wins the race, it's that he finishes the race. Better to be labeled lazy and actually finish work with quality and mental sanity than churn out a crappy product for the sake of doing something.

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MYTH #2: HUSTLING IS PRODUCTIVE

The Oxford Dictionary defines productivity as "the state or quality of producing something." But the word was historically described to measure crop yields. And as we know, harvesting isn't something farmers do daily. Most of the time they're planting seeds, maintaining the land, and preparing for whatever crops come that season. They also live like bears: toiling hard for their food supply in the warm months, and shutting down in the cold, ungrowable months. We've come to measure society in the 21st century as constantly churning out something. “You’ll actually get more done if you hustle.” However, the amount of hours put in doesn't equal production or quality. A study from Stanford professor John Pencavel found that "output at 70 hours differs little from output at 56 hours." Translation: those 14 extra hours simply aren't productive. In the Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, author John Mark Comer agrees. "It’s been proven by study after study: there is zero correlation between hurry and productivity. In fact, once you work a certain number of hours in a week, your productivity plummets. Wanna know what the number is? Fifty hours. Ironic: that’s about a six-day workweek," he found. Comer goes on to detail times throughout history when various countries or movements tried to do away with the rhythm of a seven day work week (with at least one rest day) for the sake of productivity. In France, the 10 day workweek was a disaster. The economy tanked, suicides increased, and productivity flatlined. Think about it like filling up your car's gas tank at the pump. You fill it until you hear a click, and once that happens, you can't fill it up more even if you wanted to. Your car has a fixed amount that it can take per fill-up. We're no different. Once we pass a certain threshold, we hit a plateau. It's why pulling an all-nighter to complete that term paper really won't do you much good, no matter how many Red Bulls you drink. Adam Grant, a professor at UPenn's famed Wharton School of Business, reminds us that strategy is arguably more important than hustling or "time spent." Grant is the top-rated professor at Wharton and has published several bestselling books, but it isn't because he stays up until 3 a.m. Grant has a methodical approach called "batching," in which he designates specific times for specific tasks. He spends most of his time teaching during the fall semester, then turns his focus to research and writing in the spring and summer. His formula is Time Spent x Intensity of Focus. If your focus is high, then the time spent doesn't have to be long. Newport reiterates this idea in Deep Work, finding that the very best undergraduate students studied less than those in the group below them in the GPA rankings. The distinction? Concentration. "The best students understood the role intensity plays in productivity and therefore went out of their way to maximize their concentration – radically reducing the time required to prepare for tests or write papers, without diminishing the quality of their results," he said. Of course, it's important to emphasize the nuance of how this applies to "knowledge workers" vs. those in more blue collar jobs. Knowledge workers are those whose main skill involves using their knowledge expertise, such as programmers, doctors, architects, or engineers. Their work is often online or requires extensive periods of ideation or thought. However, if you work at an Amazon warehouse making $26 an hour, odds are you want to take on more hours. More hours = more pay, and your paycheck is completely dependent on time spent, not creative or cognitive output. Revisiting what we said before, the ability to hustle as a white collar worker is a privilege. But for some people, they don't have a choice. And if the pandemic taught us anything, it's that society doesn't function without the aforementioned warehouse worker, mail carrier, or grocery store stocker. Many of these people have had to take on second or third jobs just to make ends meet. They might recognize the problem with overworking, shrug their shoulders, and say "I have a family to feed." So when we refer to hustle culture, we're mostly talking about the worker who'd be perfectly fine if they didn't go overboard, such as the aforementioned Yahoo CEO, yet continues to do so anyway. That begs the question: why are people who don't need to hustle doing it in the first place? Is it, as Derek Thompson found, to further feel a sense of purpose or identity?

MYTH #3: HUSTLING IS MEANINGFUL

"How are you doing?""Oh, just so busy.""Yeah, I hear you. I'm probably just going to be at the coffee shop 'til midnight cranking out some designs. Our company is just doing soooo much." Does this conversation sound familiar? Busyness has gone from an annoying burden to a status symbol, and people have adopted the idea that being busy means you're really important. The more your life is filled up, the more your life is worth. In a 2015 HuffPost article, "The Myth of Busyness," author Stuart Whatley describes how discussing how busy we are has become a way to flex: "Casually humblebragging about how busy we are has become a conversational banality akin to talking about the weather, but our collective obsession with time pressure is part of a cycle of credulity: popular press accounts about widespread busyness lead more people to report that they’re busy, which creates further media coverage of the same." Whatley is spot on. Many influencers and celebrities derive their meaning from busyness. And in a society where religion has lost some of its prior standing, many have turned to their jobs to feel a sense of worth and purpose. There's a famous scene in Shawshank Redemption where former prison librarian Brooks Hatlen is released back into society. However, Brooks doesn't look too happy about it. After serving as the jail's librarian for 50 years, he struggles to find purpose outside of the work he did in prison. He eventually hangs himself. While losing a job can be devastating and frustrating, most of us don't recognize how much identity we tie to our work. Pew Research found that "about half (51%) of employed Americans say they get a sense of identity from their job." In writing about how workism has become a new religion in society, Thompson admitted that he himself struggles with not tying his identity to work: "I am devoted to my job. I feel most myself when I am fulfilled by my work—including the work of writing an essay about work. My sense of identity is so bound up in my job, my sense of accomplishment, and my feeling of productivity that bouts of writer’s block can send me into an existential funk that can spill over into every part of my life," he said. But if not for a sense of identity, the goal of hustle culture is typically approval, money, or status. Let's say for you it's approval, which is typically rooted in comparison. Perhaps you imagine walking into your high school reunion embarrassed that you didn't go to college, or you still haven't found that dream job. Meanwhile, your high school BFF is a highly regarded developer at Google, and that person who slacked in math class is a CEO. In the past, social standing was derived from bloodline or royalty. Other cultures revered the elderly and wise. But the United States today is more like a meritocracy: a society where those with ability have the power. That means that status is hugely tied to what you do, leading many to make their life's goal becoming somebody important. But who are we trying to impress? There will always be someone more successful and more well-liked. And even if you get the most glamorous status, what then? Most people are concerned with themselves, and aren't stopping to fawn over your accomplishments every day. Newport makes the case that social media artificially props up how many people really care or are invested in your work or achievements: "Part of what fueled social media's rapid ascent, I contend, is its ability to short-circuit this connection between the hard work of producing real value and the positive reward of having people pay attention to you…you "like" my status update and I'll "like" yours. This agreement gives everyone a simulacrum of importance without requiring much effort in return." Or maybe your entire #hustle goal is the accumulation of money. You dream of making Forbes' World's Billionaires List. Money in itself isn't inherently bad, but it's important to consider the purpose of it. Is your goal to make money so you can brag about the number of zeros at the end of your bank account, or does that money have a clearly defined purpose? Again, this is a nuanced topic, and not everyone has the luxury of having a "world-changing" job. Some people's sole purpose is to provide for their family, and that should be applauded just as much as nonprofit work or life-saving medical care. More of the point is that self-serving work rooted solely in status, comparison, or greed could leave you with a sense of purposelessness and even more burnout. Just like more hours doesn't equal more productivity, more money doesn't equal more happiness. Dr. Angus Deaton, a highly esteemed professor at Princeton University, found in his studies that beyond a certain point of income, there's little difference in satisfaction: "No matter where you live, your emotional well-being is as good as it’s going to get at $75,000 … and money’s not going to make it any better beyond that point. It’s like you hit some sort of ceiling, and you can’t get emotional well-being much higher just by having more money," he said. Some might read this and think: "so, burnout is fine as long as you're doing something meaningful?" Not exactly. Overworking is overworking, whether it's trying to make loads of money, putting in extra hours as a teacher, or working at a global health initiative. However, there are altruistic pursuits and really valuable ways you can "hustle for a cause." Whatever your motive is, we should be wary of falling into this constructed myth that we're all in some big race to outwork one another.

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MYTH #4: HUSTLING HAS NO SIDE-EFFECTS

Most prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines come with a long list of potential side effects. We can evaluate for ourselves whether or not taking them is worth the risk of further complications. But the metaphorical bottle of hustle is commonly seen as side-effect-free. Let's imagine that hustle had a warning label and fine print. What would some of the side effects be?

Addictive Qualities (Workaholism)

One of the biggest byproducts of hustling is workaholism, or an addiction to work. Per the APA, it's "the compulsion or the uncontrollable need to work incessantly." Think of it like any other obsession. When that new Netflix show drops on Friday, the first thing you do is park yourself by the TV. At the end of each episode, you continually find yourself saying "just one more," until you've finished the whole season. One of the most dire forms of workaholism is Japanese karoshi culture, an extreme version of hustle. Karoshi literally means "death by overwork," which sounds impossible until you consider the implications of stress on our bodies. For instance, the World Health Organization study we cited earlier showed that an excess amount of working hours is tied to lethal health issues like heart disease or stroke. Karoshi culture was famously exemplified in the tragic story of Kamei Shuji, a budding financial superstar in 1980s Japan who frequently put in 90 hour workweeks. Shuji died of a stress-related heart attack at only 26 years old. Sadly, we haven't learned from Shuji's mistakes. Cases of karoshi rose from 49 in 1997 to 187 in 2011, says the International Labor Organization. The thing is, Kamei Shuji probably didn't start out at such a breakneck pace. But once he got a taste of success, he decided to push the envelope a little bit further. Then further. Then a little bit more. Until 90 hours just became the norm. Hustle culture can eat at us like a bug infestation. Termites are small and you often can't see their effects from the interior. But a tree infested with them will slowly rot from the inside out until it can't support itself anymore. Similarly, the little things add up. Like with eating unhealthy or not working out, you don't become obese overnight. The seemingly little, insignificant choices are what push us into an unsustainable rhythm. If you've ever seen photos of a U.S. president before and after taking office, the physical and mental toll of such a high stress position is evident on their faces. Their hair has grayed. Deep wrinkles are etched into their foreheads, and bags sit under their eyes. Sure, some of it is due to normal aging, but a vast majority of the shift comes from the intense workload.

Health Issues

As with Kamei Shuji, stress places a huge burden on our heart health. But potential health effects don't stop there. On a neurological level, our brains release cortisol (the "fight or flight hormone) when we're stressed. Think of it like an alarm system. For certain situations, this is a good thing. If a bear was charging at you and you had no issue with it, something would be massively wrong. However, when we're constantly inducing this response, it floods our system with more cortisol. This can lead to anxiety, depression, digestive issues, headaches, and lack of sleep. Mental health-wise, depression can come from the constant lack of feeling like you've done enough or are enough. A study from the NIH found that burnout was often associated with depressive symptoms: "Burnout was found to be a significant predictor of depressive symptoms among 2,555 dentists in a follow-up study lasting three years and a mediator between job strain and depressive symptoms."

Relationship Strain

Even if you don't develop serious health issues, the pace of hustle will inevitably affect your mood and thus create tension with those around you, be it coworkers, close friends, or your spouse. In 1945, world famous preacher and evangelist Billy Graham and his wife, Ruth, welcomed their first daughter, Virginia. Though shortly after her birth, Graham had to leave on a long ministry trip. He often traveled around the world for his mission, missing out on some of his daughter's childhood. In one instance, Ruth brought Virginia to surprise Graham at a ministry event, and Graham stared cluelessly, not recognizing his own daughter. Graham expressed regret and remorse for letting work get in the way of what mattered most. Sadly, this is all too common of a story in our society. Ultimately we only have a finite amount of effort and energy throughout a day, and if misallocated, it can easily be channeled completely into our hustle or work efforts. Maybe it's not as extreme as traveling around the world and not recognizing your children, but it could look like coming home exhausted and barely acknowledging your spouse. It could look like leaving your close friends on "read" because you have "way more important" emails to answer. Some fall into the trap of thinking that if they just get a little more, they'll have more time and flexibility to spend with others. It's similar to people saying they'll be more charitable once they get more money, rather than building the habit of being generous with what they have. A 2021 article from The Guardian found that long hours spent working is keeping more people lonely and single. The article cited a study saying that over 2.4 million British adults are lonely, but have little time to find relationships. As we mentioned in our blog about burnout, many offices are structuring themselves to keep you there nonstop. They provide on-campus housing, pet care, laundry services, every meal or item you'd need, and even have gyms or rec centers you can use. As much as hustle might feel like an autonomous pursuit, we're being heavily influenced by companies who want us to work more. Yes, hustle culture can take a toll on your finances, your wallet, and your overall health, but most often overlooked is what it's doing to our personal relationships.

MYTH #5: ALL HUSTLE IS CREATED EQUAL

We touched on this in the beginning, but it's crucial to distinguish hustle done for status, power, or greed, and hustle done out of necessity and survival. We can't look at hustle culture as if it's all the same. For some low-income families and groups, hustle isn't glamorous. It's something they wish they could avoid, and would if it wasn't tied to their survival. "Everyone is hustling, but everyone cannot hustle the same," wrote UNC professor Tracie McMillan Cottom in a recent Time Magazine piece. Cottom is right. Socioeconomic status, race, and circumstances must be considered before painting broad brushstrokes about what hustle is for everyone. Some people fight tooth and nail to survive, and the hustle they participate in is risky, taxing, and minimally rewarding. "The problem is, hustling still isn't a choice for people who aren't at the top. There's a world of difference between staying late at the office to score a promotion and peeing in a bottle to keep your job at an Amazon warehouse," said Isabella Rosario in a recent NPR feature. In the current economy, many people can't afford not to hustle. They drive Uber or Lyft not to funnel extra cash into their investment portfolio, but to pay rent. They work 12-hour days not because they want "Rise n' Grind" on their coffee mugs, but because they have to provide for their families. It's a reminder that #hustleculture influencers like Gary Vee, though well-intentioned, profit off the very capitalist structures they seem to critique. "The hustle is an idea, a discourse and a survival strategy often glorified as economic opportunity. It is an ode to a type of capitalism that cannot secure the futures of anyone but the wealthiest. But its popularity lies in how hustling can feel like an equal-opportunity strategy," Cottom continued. While it may seem like an equal opportunity, there are certain groups with an obvious leg up.To be clear we're not advocating for a communist, "fair share" society, or diminishing hard work done by those born into more affluent families. Every person has their own struggles, be it family pressure, mental health, ADD, or insecurities. Rather, we're reminded that, as Cottom pointed out, hustling can only truly secure the futures of the wealthiest. Elon Musk can afford to buy Twitter as a "side hustle." It's a tiny dent in his $270 billion fortune if Twitter tanks. For the single mom working two jobs? A side hustle comes with way more risk and necessity. In any case, interaction with hustle is personal. Here's Cottom: "What hustling looks like in 2020 depends on who you are. To hustle, if you are working class, is to piece together multiple jobs. If you are middle class or upper class, it is discussed as “multiple revenue streams.” But the goal is the same: pull together a patchwork of income in order to get ahead." The lockdown phase of the pandemic exemplified this. While some could afford to take a de facto vacation or break from work (or at least work remotely from the comfort and safety of their couch), others had to show up for their normal grocery store, postal service, fast food, or hospital jobs. Before stimulus bills and relief packages went out, many workers spent months toiling to make sure everyone else could eat, sleep, and wipe their butts with toilet paper. You get the point: some struggles (or "hustles") come from necessity, and others are born out of luxury. That's why we can't flat out say "hustle is bad" or "hustle is good," because it's not a moral issue. It should really be reframed as this: Thinking hustle will be fulfilling is an empty promise. And not all hustle is created equally.

HOW TO DEAL WITH HUSTLE CULTURE

You might think we're saying working hard is wrong or impossible – we're not. And on the flip side, we're not saying to just coast by or do the bare minimum either. The goal is to get you to see through the myths of hustle culture, and recognize that there's a better way. A happy medium that prioritizes both efficient productivity and your physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. Whether you're in the camp of hustling for pleasure or hustling out of necessity, the following ideas around balance apply to you. And no matter how many hours you work, your identity isn't rooted in your job title, status, or income. The first step in putting hustle in its proper place is to recognize and understand where certain narratives in your life come from. How you view yourself and what you prioritize will likely dictate which of these myths you might get sucked into. Maybe you've experienced failure in your life, and therefore counter by seeking to be a productivity machine obsessed with getting more and more results. Maybe you slowed down or slacked off and were called "lazy." Maybe your indifference cost you a job opportunity that took a bite out of your self-esteem. Or perhaps you've been lured in by some of these hustle influencers and seek to emulate their way of life and attain their level of "success." It's important to be honest and aware. We often do things without considering why we're really doing them. Whether it's journaling, taking a walk, or processing with a friend, take moments to reflect on your pace, your schedule, and if you're falling into any habits that have become self destructive. Newport outlines how some of the most successful people he knows prioritize their happiness first, and let their productivity flow from a place of centeredness. Next, consider some practicals from the life of Jesus. We look at Jesus' life because we believe he was the most balanced, healthy, and intentional person to ever walk the earth. If you simply look at his way of life, you won't detect a trace of hustle or hurry. He's been described by scholars as "relaxed" and "a non-anxious presence." His resumé (carpenter/rabbi) likely wouldn't land him many jobs on today's LinkedIn, yet he's arguably the most influential figure ever. Divinity aside, how can that be? Jesus didn't dismiss hard work, but he did weigh in on what greed or the unquenchable desire for more would do to us. "What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?" (Mark 8:36 NIV). He had his priorities in place. Jesus knew what his mission was, and it wasn't rooted in self-seeking glorification. He was frequently tempted with wealth, status, and fame, yet never swayed from his mission to seek and save the hurting. You could say he harnessed his hustle. Jesus knew when it was time to work and when it was time to rest. As a Jew, he was well-acquainted with the Jewish custom of the Sabbath, an intentional day set aside for rest and worship. The point was that if God, the creator of the universe, rested on the seventh day of creation, so too should we humans. Today, the idea of a sabbath or sabbatical sounds like a foreign concept. That's 24 hours of productivity you're wasting. While it may sound boring or impractical from the outside, many see Sabbath as the reset button that keeps them going in the first place. As Comer details in his book, Sabbath was alive and well in American society as recently as the 1960s. He recalls his father's shock at 7-Eleven becoming the first store in the area to be open seven days a week. However, the advent of the digital age has brought the capability to be working all the time. And while it may also seem counterintuitive to a businesses' bottom line to not be open seven days a week, several companies have proven otherwise. B&H Photo in New York, founded by Hasidic Jews, is closed on Saturday for Shabbat (the Jewish day of rest). They don't even accept online orders on Saturday. Still, B&H is one of the most popular photo equipment retailers in Manhattan. Chick-Fil-A has shown similar success even being famously "closed on Sunday,” as Kanye West reminds us. A recent Business Insider article found that "despite being open for 14% fewer days a year than competitors, Chick-fil-A is dominating the fast-food industry. The chain's same-store sales grew by 16.7% in 2018, according to Nation's Restaurant News data." Counterintuitively, you can actually get further ahead by stopping. Whether from a spiritual standpoint or not, we can all benefit from at least a pause from work to reframe our perspective, to feel human again, and remember we're human beings, not human doings. As Andrew Sullivan put it in a New York Magazine article: "The Sabbath—the Jewish institution co-opted by Christianity—was ... a moment of calm to reflect on our lives under the light of eternity. It helped define much of Western public life once a week for centuries—only to dissipate, with scarcely a passing regret, into the commercial cacophony of the past couple of decades. It reflected a now-battered belief that a sustained spiritual life is simply unfeasible for most mortals without these refuges from noise and work to buffer us and remind us who we really are." If you're not down for a full Sabbath, consider the following strategies to prevent burnout and cultivate a sustainable rhythm in your life: Digital Sabbath: Comer also advocates for turning off your phone for 24 hours, in a sort of "digital sabbath." You might clutch your phone tighter after reading that, as the idea of being unreachable for a whole day might sound downright scary. But imagine not being interrupted every five minutes. Imagine a day without the incessant ding of notifications on your smartphone. The time spent checking our phone easily adds up, and Newport estimates that in an eight hour workday, most people only end up working four due to the amount of "shallow work" like checking email or taking phone calls. Think of, then, the possibilities for meaningful connection, rest, creativity, and delight in a completely distraction-free 24 hours. Mental Restoration: Newport offers an alternative to the Digital Sabbath. He says: "don't take breaks from distraction. Instead, take breaks from focus." This may seem counterintuitive, but switching constantly from a state of concentration and a state of distraction isn't sustainable. Realistically, he argues, we can only spend an hour or two in an extremely focused state. Use your mental energy wisely, and recharge by not focusing too hard on a cognitively demanding task. He cites a study about Attention Restoration Theory, which says that spending time in nature can help improve your concentration. Being in an environment that doesn't require intense concentration, like nature, actually curb attention fatigue. Going for a walk in-between demanding tasks may seem like it's taking away from precious time, when really it's helping you to be better for the next task. Time Limits: Most daily tasks (meetings, sports games, activities) have a defined start and end time. This helps with the aforementioned mental fatigue, and also plays into Comer's finding of there being little difference between 75 and 55 hour workweeks. Think of it like setting boundaries in a relationship, but in this case, "the significant other" is work. You won't invite a friend over for a deep conversation at 10:00 p.m. right before you go to sleep, but you'll check social media or email right before going to bed, thus plunging your mind into a world of stimulation. Setting a hard stop on your day will actually help you to be more attentive the next day. It's okay if non-urgent things don't get finished, so long as you have an action plan as to when you'll complete them later on. Don't try to suppress your to-do's with distraction - strategize on how to accomplish them sustainably. Attacking them in high quality bursts may be more effective than "grinding it out." "Your capacity for deep work in a given day is limited. If you're careful about your schedule, you should hit your daily deep work capacity during your workday. It follows, therefore, that by evening, you're beyond the point where you can continue to effectively work deeply. Any work you do fit into the night, therefore, won't be the type of high-value activities that really advance your career; your efforts will instead be confined to low-value shallow tasks (executed at a slow, low-energy pace," Newport said. Batching: You may remember this tactic when we talked about the balanced, efficient productivity of Wharton professor Adam Grant. Batching is the "simple habit of performing like-minded tasks together instead of bouncing from one task to the next," per a LinkedIn article by executive coach Achim Nowak. Batching your work time, your answering email / texts time, and your social media time helps curb distraction and promotes deep work. Despite what you've been told, your brain can't really multitask that well – at least not super effectively. When you give sharp focus to one task but set a timer on it, you'll feel both a sense of accomplishment and will work smarter, not harder. Know Your Why: Before getting sucked into something that's going to take a considerable amount of your time, know why you're getting yourself into it, and outline practically, mentally, and emotionally it'll take to get this goal. Dreaming is great, but a dream done out of greed, comparison, or status-chasing will likely leave you feeling hollow. We're not saying your dream has to be curing cancer, but really sit down and take time to evaluate the purpose. As Dream Big author Bob Goff put it: "Know what you want, why you want it, and what you're going to do about it." As we close, the research we've found has time and time again proven that hustling (in the privileged sense) often gets us farther from our goals while taking a toll on our minds, bodies, and souls. Ultimately, the cost isn't worth it, and what we get from hustling isn't as shiny as it might seem. Implementing these strategies may be incredibly easy or extraordinarily difficult depending on your situation. Just know that weaning off of hyperproductivity is a gradual learning process. You'll be going against the grain of society and many of your friends or coworkers. However, escaping the hustle might just extend your life, preserve your relationships, and remind you that you matter – regardless of what you do.

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