We hear and see a lot of messages on social media about the “hustle culture.” Content that glamorizes being overly busy with the caption “Don’t stop when you’re tired. Stop when you’re done” and hundreds of books offering ways of being more productive more of the time.
In today’s highly competitive and fast-paced lifestyle, the hustle culture is becoming the norm. People post about how “busy” they are and how many million things they’re juggling at the same time. They boast about grinding and exerting themselves at maximum capacity every day. This culture of overworking and being busy 24/7 has become the standard for many to gauge things like success and fulfillment.
The thing is, hustle culture isn’t really as great as it’s made out to be. It can be dangerous, to individuals, families, and the workplace.
Working hard and taking the steps to reach your goals are all well and good, but there are periods of growth and periods of rest, and living what you’ve learned.
We must understand that growth is cyclical.
BALANCING GROWTH AND REST
What would life be like if you slowed down and lived more intentionally?
How would your life be different if you took your time waking up, scheduled breaks for self-care in your day, or putting time aside for it in a week?
How would the quality of your relationships be if you were fully present when you were with your loved ones, and not constantly checking messages and emails coming in?
How would you value your time more if you made your working hours as productive and focused as possible so that you had less of them?
While it’s certainly the case that there are times and seasons in life, especially in our careers, where we find ourselves working ridiculously long hours, studies show that after a certain point, productivity drops off significantly.
According to a study published by John Pencavel of Stanford University, “employee output falls sharply after a 50-hour work-week and falls off a cliff after 55 hours—so much so that someone who puts in 70 hours produces nothing more with those extra 15 hours.”
So, instead of always trying to push yourself to the limit, trying to do more and fit more into your schedule, try these instead.
Know your WHY and understand what you want out of work and life
We all have goals that we want to achieve. They can either be personal goals, professional goals, health, or relationship goals. Whatever you set your mind to, those who balance work and life well realize that they need to set goals in both their career and their personal lives. They are clear on what they want in life. This makes it easier to say “yes” and “no” to the appropriate projects and tasks. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to better understand your WHY behind your goals:
- Have I identified the work and life projects critical to my success, both in the short-term and the long-term?
- What are my smaller “milestone” goals for both work and home?
- Will these smaller milestone goals help me advance towards the larger goals I’ve set for myself?
- Have I shared my goals with the people around me who can support me and keep me accountable?
Take your vacation and rest time
Sometimes people neglect their vacation time because they are afraid of the workload they have to come back to after they take leave. When others do take time off, they find themselves answering emails and phone calls while on vacation. It certainly is a fact that for most of us, taking vacation creates far more work than simply plugging along (at least in the short term). However, taking time to step away from work and recharge is an essential part of growth. Recreation time and time out for ourselves helps us come back more energized and creative.
Learn to outsource and delegate
Successful and well-balanced people take full advantage of outsourcing and delegating tasks, both at home and at work. Evaluate the tasks that take a significant amount of your time and ask if someone else can do them more effectively. If so, hire or delegate that task right away. This frees us your time for more important tasks that need your energy.
Prioritize self-care and nurture yourself
You cannot accomplish anything if you have an empty cup. Filling your cup means doing things that keep you healthy in all aspects – mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Getting plenty of rest, exercise and eating properly are tools we always hear people say are important for maximum productivity. But we can sometimes neglect these simple yet important activities to nurture ourselves.
Many of us think we can burn the candle at both ends, eat junk food, get very little exercise and sleep, and still function properly. However, you may be able to get away with this for a while when you’re young, but, at some point, this lifestyle catches up with the best of us causing stress, burnout, and long-term health issues.
When you take a break from constantly working and constantly thinking, you allow space for creation and new ideas. So remember to prioritize your health and self-care.
Know what your priorities are
There are a lot of aspects in life that we want to focus on. The main ones are work/career, health, personal development, and family/relationships. At some point in our lives, we will focus on a few areas and give our full attention and energy, but we cannot keep all four burners at full blast at all times.
Examine your values and decide what’s important to you; then set your boundaries. You may be in the process of building a career, starting a family or going to school. Depending on what stage you’re at in life, your focus and energies will be different and that’s okay. Know what stage you are at in life, what area you want to focus on, then set your priorities and boundaries.
WHY GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT ARE CYCLICAL
Human beings need a rhythm of work and rest in order to live up to their full potential.
There are times when we can be productive and direct all our energy towards work. This is usually when we are in a growth phase. Take for example a new mother who directs all her energy towards caring for her newborn or a new business owner who just launched their business and is in the growth phase of their business.
However, this phase shouldn’t be the norm. There are also times when it is important to rest, sit back, and let what you’ve learned integrate. Without this natural cycle of growth, development, and rest, one may experience several health problems, burnout, or fatigue.
Physical and mental exhaustion can often lead to emotional volatility. Without proper rest, individuals become easily irritated and anxious. This lack of rest can also escalate into larger issues affecting other parts of life – relationships, personal life, health, and wellbeing.
Ideally, rest and work need to alternate, leaving us physically healthy, mentally stimulated, and spiritually fulfilled.
Life is a cycle and a balance of both growth and recreation. The hustle culture seems to be doing more harm than good. Hustle might move you forward, but it doesn’t set you up for sustainable success. Good habits are formed through consistency and repetition, not mindless effort.
So, remember that it is okay to strive for growth, productivity, and work for your goals – but there also needs to be time for rest, integration, and time for yourself.
Hustle might get you somewhere, but is it where you want to go? Pause to locate the best paths to your destination.