Hustle. Grit. Hard work. Perseverance. These are all important ingredients when it comes to moving towards our goals and creating a meaningful and purposeful life. But what happens when we take it too far?
The relentless pursuit of all things “hustle” might look like the only option when it comes to fulfilling our goals, however there can be a dark-side. We chatted to Indigo Psychologist, Jacob Rath, about the negative impact that hustle culture might hold for us and how we might explore some healthier alternatives.
Why is achieving things and being seen as successful so important to many of us?
Firstly, I think it is possible to “achieve things” without motivation coming from “being seen as successful”. Achieving things generally contributes to having more positive wellbeing and this is particularly true when we achieve things that reflect our personal values.
However, sometimes we may lose touch with our values, or the psychosocial environment that we live in may distort our values. Through my practice as a psychologist, I have observed that some of us may feel a need to be seen as successful when deep down we do not think very highly of ourselves. We may over-compensate for our subconscious belief that we are “not good enough” by looking for external validation from others to demonstrate otherwise. Being seen as successful may also make us feel safe, but I think it is important to ask ourselves how much more safety we really need in our lives.
What do you see as possible dangers to our current hustle-until-you-make-it culture?
One danger that I see is that this culture could lead to some “tunnel vision” by placing all of our self-worth on “making it”. Will we only be “good enough” when we “make it”, or are we also worthy of respecting ourselves right now? Most of us are at our best when our values are applied to a variety of areas of life, rather than placing all of our eggs in one basket.
Another danger that I see is that this culture could lead to a much higher likelihood of ‘burn out’. Ultimately, we all have our limits of how much we can work. When we repeatedly exceed this limit, it often leads to serious consequences for our mental health. It is important that we have realistic expectations of ourselves and I think the hustle culture may contradict this.
How do you think we might reframe our relationship to hustle & achievement, so that we’re more happy and healthy?
I think a little “hustle” and “grit” can be highly beneficial for us at certain times to achieve what is important to us and overcome difficulties in life. However, I think it is important to ask ourselves whether the direction we are taking in our lives is guided by our personal values.
Sometimes the “compass” that we use to direct ourselves in our life journeys might need some re-calibration. It is at this time that we might be able to figure out the many things in life worth hustling for. Additionally, rather than just hustling away, we will likely find more productivity when we sit back occasionally, look at the bigger picture and set a schedule that prevents fatigue and burn out.
How might we tap into motivation in a healthy way?
I believe one of the first steps towards finding healthy motivation is doing some deep self-exploration to re-invigorate our interest and determination in our lives. We might ask ourselves questions like “who am I”, “what is actually important to me” and “how do I define my self-worth”.
This will help us identify the many values that we hold dearly, and find a more balanced definition of what success looks like to us. When we are able to place more meaning and reasoning behind the goals that we have set for ourselves in life, we will be more motivated to achieve those goals.