F*ck The Hustle (Before It’s Too Late)

The Hustle.

F*ck The Hustle | StephGaudreau.com

It seems particularly appropriate to talk about busyness and The Hustle at this time of year, when the madness of the holidays is in full swing.

There’s parties to attend, presents to buy, and planes to catch. And while it can be fun and exciting, it’s also wicked stressful.

Family relations, bank account balances, and taking time off work on top of normal obligations can make you feel like a hamster trapped on an accelerating wheel.

But it’s not just the holiday season that’ll get ya.

No, The Hustle is something that’ll strike you down any time of year, often when you least expect it…

…so in this post, I’ve got three reasons to f*ck The Hustle before it’s too late.

Defining The Hustle

According to the Googles, “hustle” is defined as…

Hustle /ˈhəsəl/

(verb): force (someone) to move hurriedly or unceremoniously in a specified direction

(noun): busy movement and activity

Now, you could argue that inherently, neither of those definitions is particularly nefarious. “Hey, what’s wrong with being busy or occupied?”

Nothing. But The Hustle I’m speaking of is more a mentality and a lifestyle than is portrayed in any dictionary entry. (That’s why I capitalize it as a proper noun.)

You get clues to it in the meaning of the verb: Forcing, being hurried along, and overall, a really dark, negative, frazzled energy.

When it comes down to it, The Hustle means pushing harder, doing more, and resting less because you think it’ll help you get ahead.

And it’s all a grand fucking illusion.

Last month, I posted a revision to a quote that Think Grow Prosper put on their Instagram:


I mean, come on.

Think Grow Proper’s original post pissed me off enough that Z and I dedicated Season 2 Episode 1 of Harder to Kill Radio to the topic.

My post got over 1100 likes and dozens of comments from people like you who are sick of this kind of “motivation” too.

And while I can sort of see an angle here – be persistent, have grit, etc. – if you’re drained, you’re not doing yourself any good by pushing through it. (Plus, sometimes quitting is a sign of strength, too. But that’s another post for another time.)

Being tired is one thing. We’ve all been there…when we give ourselves the ol’ pep talk to make it past a looming deadline or finish the semester strong.

But being drained, hanging on by your last nerve, and wrecking your health in the process is sheer lunacy. We’ve got to stop making it okay to Hustle ourselves into the ground.

F*ck The Hustle (Before It's Too Late) Click To Tweet

Here are three reasons to f*ck The Hustle:

#1: Everyone’s Quite Shitty at Multitasking

Multitasking is for computers, not humans. Study after study has demonstrated that people are really terrible at it. And even though you might think you’ve mastered it, you haven’t.

It’s pretty typical, when you’re deep in The Hustle, to juggle 8271 balls at once. You hop from task to task, desperate to get a little bit done for each.

And while you might be busy, you’re unlikely to be effective at what you’re doing.

Here’s what typically would happen to me:

I’d spend all day skimming the surface of my work tasks (let’s not even add in everything else that goes along with life) for several straight hours. I was occupied, but I wasn’t really getting anything done. And to top it all off, I finished feeling drained and stressed, like no matter how fast I went, I couldn’t keep up.

Ever heard of “switching cost?” It’s fascinating. Basically, it’s the degradation in accuracy, speed, and even safety that results from multitasking. That article links to primary journal sources if you wanna jump in deeper and get nerdy.

It’s bad enough to hustle your way through “brainless” tasks like email, but the effect is even more detrimental to creative tasks that require real brain power. It takes time and focus to descend into the kind of space that allows for effective problem solving.

Not only that, but hurried, hustled thinking means you’re hanging out in a stressed state which closes your mind off to other possibilities.

#2: The Logic of The Hustle is Flawed

F*ck The Hustle | StephGaudreau.com

The Hustle often gets heavily defended in entrepreneurial circles, as if doing it is the way only way to succeed. Recently, I even heard an argument for The Hustle, like it’s some sick rite of passage.

It usually goes something like this:

“Mr. X or Ms. Y runs a 7-figure business. They worked hard to get there. So, if you want a successful 7-figure business, you’ve gotta Hustle, too.” (By the way, it’s not good enough to just have a 6-figure business anymore, in case you hadn’t noticed.)

Fuck that.

Let’s deconstruct this logic.

First, let’s go with the assumption that just because someone heads a million dollar enterprise means they Hustled to get there. We just don’t know that for sure. It’s easy to look out into the Internet and make up all sorts of stories about how people earned their success.

Maybe they didn’t Hustle at all. Maybe they’re a trust fund kid. Maybe they know the right people. Maybe they had an Oprah moment. Maybe they paid for it. Or maybe their success is a result of consistent but reasonable hard work over years.

My point is, you have no idea unless you know them personally. Most people you see at the top of the game have been at it a long time. They’ve made mistakes. They’ve put in the work.

Don't confuse The Hustle with Consistent Hard Work Over Time. Click To Tweet

Secondly, let’s assume they did engage in The Hustle, burning the candle at both ends 24/7, forsaking their health and well-being for the sole purpose of finding “success.” Just because they did it doesn’t mean it’s 1) necessary, 2) right, or 3) worth it for you. Just because they Hustled doesn’t mean it’s the only path to success.

The culture online entrepreneurs are creating, the unspoken work ethic, the push for making it to the top at all costs, is insidious, and it’s common to fall victim unless you’re vigilant.

Thirdly, how do you define success? Get really clear about success looks and feels like to you. Is it how many zeros are tacked onto your bank account balance? Is it living into your purpose and leaving the world a better place? Is it both? Neither? Something entirely different?

Do you deserve to make money whilst helping others? Of course. I’m not advocating working for free.

But think about whether the cost of The Hustle is worth it for you. Be honest about what you’re likely to give up, and determine whether the image of success you’re driving so hard toward is something you actually want. Or would you happy with a little less money and a lot more health, peace of mind, or space to live the life you’re hell bent on creating?

Working hard and having goals isn’t stupid. Hell, I’ve been working on my businesses for over five years now, chipping away, showing up, messing up, and changing direction.

Am I in the 7-figure club? Nope. Do I want to be? Not if the tradeoff means I’m chucking my health, wellbeing, and quality of life out the window.

The thought that you can have it all – the piles of money, the success, the fame, great health, peace of mind, and bangin’ body – is so pervasive in our culture that we rarely stop to question if it’s really possible.

#3: Your Health Depends on It

F*ck The Hustle | StephGaudreau.com

The Hustle is bad for your physical, mental, and emotional health.

Again, you aren’t a machine. Your biology is governed by cycles, waves, and rhythms.

And it just makes sense that when you have periods of higher energy expenditure, it’s got to be followed by periods of rest and recovery.

To paraphrase Tony Schwartz in The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working: Humans are built for sprints followed by rest, not marathons of constant output.

Moderns humans live in discordance with our biology in staggering ways including how we sleep, eat, work, and hustle about our day. We’re constantly bucking Mother Nature, and it’s starting to take its toll in the ever-rising incidence of metabolic diseases, mental illness, and cancer.

If you’re the average Jane, the deck is already stacked against you, and much of what Western culture values and how it operates isn’t your fault. You probably didn’t create the corporate structures of your workplace or choose the hours of your child’s school day.

All of this boils down to stress load versus the quality of recovery, and The Hustle just pushes the needle ever in the direction of stress overload.

Individual tolerances, genetics, and environment can buffer some of it, but when you push too far and Hustle too hard, something will break.

You will break.

A few months ago, a friend posted an article on Facebook about the hidden mental costs of entrepreneurship. I got into it with a guy who considered himself quite the successful businessman (with the zeros at the end of his bank balance to prove it).

His success came at a huge cost: diabetes and obesity.

He admitted to Hustling himself into disease.

And the crazier part is that he was okay with it because he had lots of money as a result. I guess folks like that can’t be reasoned with.

Ultimately, going against the status quo of Western culture takes conscious choices on a daily basis. You’ll feel like a rebel at first, but then you’ll come to see that everyone is so busy worrying about themselves, they probably won’t even notice what you’re up to.

How To Recognize You’re Deep in The Hustle

F*ck The Hustle | StephGaudreau.com

In all fairness, sometimes it’s really hard to realize you’re deep in The Hustle because it so quickly becomes a “normal” way of being.

My purpose here isn’t to just point out what’s wrong: It’s to offer you some insight, coaching, and help when you need it most.

Signs you’re in The Hustle:

  • Feeling emotionally triggered or defensive by reading this post.
  • Feeling as if the pace of life is spiraling out of control.
  • Proclaiming, “I don’t have time for that,” on a regular basis.
  • Making little progress despite working harder and longer hours.
  • Believing that if you slow down, you’ll fall behind.
  • Feeling the constant crush of keeping up with others around you. Aka FOMO.
  • Being unable to sit still for more than five minutes.
  • Skipping work breaks. (Or if you’re self-employed, failing to give yourself breaks throughout the day.)
  • Skipping meals to keep working.
  • Suffering from comparison-itis: the belief that you’re so far behind everyone else, that you can’t stop or you’ll fall further behind.
  • Requiring sugar, caffeine, and other stimulants to make it through the work day.
  • Multitasking as your primary workflow.
  • Frequently getting sick.

Of course, there are more. And if you’re feeling generally stressed out day after day, you’re probably in The Hustle, too.

6 Ways Counteract The Hustle

F*ck The Hustle | StephGaudreau.com

So, if you’re in The Hustle, what can you do to ameliorate it?

1) Take more frequent breaks.

Ideally, take 30 minutes of restorative break time for every 90 minutes of work. If that’s not possible – no hate mail, I know some people have jobs where that’s impossible – make your breaks truly restorative. No, answering emails or scrolling social media is not restorative. Whammy.

2) Be quiet & unplug.

Devote some time each day to sitting quietly or meditating. If you say you can’t do five minutes, you need it even more.

3) Define your own success.

Is it a state of mind, a financial goal, a contribution to society, a type of lifestyle? Write it down.

4) Nourish your body & mind.

That includes eating real, whole foods a majority of the time, moving and strengthening your body, renewing your energy daily, and practicing positive mindset.

5) Say no. 

The great illusion is that you must do all and be all, all the time. Learn how to say no. If others are disappointed, that’s on them, not you. You’re not responsible for other people’s feelings. EVER. Use your new-found free time to do more of the things above. Nobody gets to the end of life and says, “Well, I wish I’d worked more.”

6) Opt out. 

Time to put on your big girl pants. You get to decide how to run your life. Society will do it if you don’t. Opt out of the bullshit that’s not working. Don’t let others decide what’s right for you.

To Summarize

Hard work is great, but you need to counter it with plenty of rest and recovery.

The Hustle is a monstrous lie. Multitasking is crap, successful people don’t always Hustle (especially not 24/7)…

…and even if they do, it doesn’t make it good or right.

Learn to recognize when you’re in The Hustle, and use the six strategies above for exiting out.

Your health and wellbeing is precious. Guard it ruthlessly.

Thoughts? Add them to the comments below.