Hustle culture. Why it doesn’t work.

If you visit any bookstore and find a time management or goal setting shelf, it will be filled with books that send the same message: 
  • No pain, no gain. 
  • Growth is painful. 
  • Life is not easy. 
  • You have to hustle. 
  • You have to white-knuckle your way to success. 
They are full of war-like examples and techniques. They promote self-discipline from the place of self-hate. In a way they promote misery. Their core message is “If you feel miserable, you are doing it right. It is how it’s supposed to be.” 
I want to talk about a very harmful concept we’ve been sold by these books and the media. I want to talk about the hustle. 

The Hustle Culture

There are very few words that I despise more than the word hustle. Have you noticed that at one point in time, several years ago, it became a fashion statement to be hustling?
What are you hustling towards? What’s your end goal? No one cares. As long as you have this image of a person who is always busy, has 3 beeping smartphones, 100 unread emails and 20 meetings in a day, you are doing it right
I have so many issues with this from philosophical, spiritual, logical viewpoints, I can talk about it all day long. For now, I just want to look at it from the practical perspective and hopefully debunk the myth of the hustle culture

10 main problems with the hustle culture


1. It robs you of focus and the ability to think deep. 

I remember reading a study that says that an average office employee is interrupted every 3 to 5 minutes. These interruptions come from email notifications, slack messages, phone calls, etc. How much do you think one can do with 3 to 5 minutes of uninterrupted time? Not much, right? One can send an email or two but that’s about it. 

No deep, meaningful, and impactful work can be done in this interrupted environment. Responding to emails doesn’t move organizations forward. Creative and impactful work does.  

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main problems with the hustle culture


2. The hustle culture makes you irritable 

Probably, it has something to do with the previous point of constant interruption. When you have never-ending external stimuli you need to react to, it’s very hard to be patient. You always have to be alert and ready to fight. It seems like everything and everyone is against you. These things and people are only slowing you down. And you think they are doing it on purpose. Noone is moving fast enough. 

3. It robs you of energy and health.

The hustle culture eventually causes burnout, depression, and mental health issues.

Talk to any doctor, and they will tell you that stress kills people. And the hustle culture brings nothing but stress. 

4. Hustle culture makes people focus exclusively on one area of their lives (most likely their work).

It completely ignores all other areas that also require attention to live a full life.

What ends us happening is that people burn themselves out. Nothing brings them happiness or excitement. Everything is in grayscale. Or they wait till their physical bodies stop properly functioning. Or their family life is completely ruined. Only then they slow down and start reevaluating their lives. We’ve seen it happen so many times to celebrities, to the people we personally know but somehow we still fail to connect it to the hustle culture


5. Hustle culture fails at prioritization.

The biggest productivity lie is that everything matters equally
(Gary Keller)

There are things that are way more important and impactful. The hustle culture makes you believe that you should get everything done. But to live a good life, you need to get the most important things done. Not everything. 

6. It makes you focus on false vanity metrics that don’t really matter.

vanity metrics

You know the drill – Instagram likes, the number of followers, video views, etc. These metrics are created by social media platforms to entice users to spend more time using these platforms. Because their business evaluation depends on two things:

  1. How many customers they have.
  2. How much time these customers spend on their platform. 

The more time they spend, the more advertising the platform can feed to these customers. And what better ways to bring people back to their platforms than creating vanity metrics?


7. Hustle culture doesn’t teach you to delegate.

It teaches that if you want to get it right, you need to do it yourself. Great things are rarely done alone. And you can’t build a successful company, a powerful movement or even a happy family if you are planning on doing it alone

There is an unhealthy pride that is being promoted by the hustle culture. You are not doing anything noble if you are trying to do everything yourself. 

8. There is a ceiling that you hit really quickly.

You can’t hustle your way beyond a certain number. You can’t hustle your way beyond a certain income level. It is just humanly impossible. You need to find another way. Why not try to find this way now? You simply can’t scale hustle. 

9. Self-worth of hustlers is based on how many tasks they get done.

You are worthy no matter if you had a productive day or not. People who operate under the hustle mindset get their sense of worth from the outside factors, from the outside approval.

When success is fueled by external motivation it is exhausting. There is never enough approval. The moment we get it we crave more. No one can ever validate us enough. 

I remember hearing this term – validation junkies. Those are people in your life who always speak low of themselves seeking your approval. “I’m so big in this dressclearly expecting that you say “No, you look fabulous in this dress, don’t be silly”. 

And the hustle culture plays a huge role in cultivating these validation junkies. Social media is very “helpful” with their vanity metrics. 

If you only have external motivation for doing something, it will never be enough. The best way to do something is from the place of internal motivation.

External validation is like a drug. Probably the most dangerous one. Think about it… even people who don’t drink, smoke or do drugs are hooked on Facebook and Instagram likes. The moment you post something, you are so tempted to go back and check on who liked your post.  


10. The hustle culture embraces complexity.

The more complexity we have, the more we can hustle. The more we can complain about how difficult the world is. The more tasks we can add to our to-do list.

The opposite of it is embracing simplicity. Trying to simplify things. Because when you can simplify, you can optimize. You can delegate. You can create more time and more ease. But having more time and ease is a big no-no in the hustle culture. The hustle culture seeks to overcomplicate things because when something looks difficult it looks impressive to the outside world (and we are back to point #9)

The opposite of hustle is intentionality.

Intentional Life

Focusing on a few things that truly matter and getting them right. I keep saying that very few things are truly urgent and important. The importance of everything else is made up by people who benefit from us thinking that way. We can decide what we truly care about, find out our core values and live our lives accordingly. Because in my opinion, true happiness is when you thoughts, your actions, and your results are aligned with your true core values. And this is different for everyone. And our job is to uncover our true values and align our lives accordingly

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