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Why You Need to Rethink the “Grind” and “Hustle”

“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”

– Dolly Parton

At the beginning of my career, I worked a lot.

I worked 12-hour days, 5 days a week on top of an almost two-hour drive each way. Along with getting ready for work and everything else involved, at least 17 hours a day was spent related to work. And I would cover shifts for others who had families since I didn’t have kids at the time. I worked on holidays to get the “double-time” pay.

All in the pursuit of the almighty dollar.

My life involved waking up, working, driving home, going to bed, and repeating the same cycle over and over. The days off were spent catching up from lack of sleep, running errands, cleaning, and trying to “enjoy life.”

I bought into the “hard worker” myth ingrained in us since birth. The only way to “succeed” was to bust your ass and not let anything get in the way of achieving what you wanted. Work hard and you will be rewarded, right? The whole “lift yourself up by your bootstraps” myth.

The American dream.

I wanted it bad. I needed a bigger everything. More stuff, more respect, and a fancier job title. I also wanted a hefty pension so I could finally enjoy what life had to offer after retiring.

In 40 years.

And I worked hard. I received multiple awards and constant recognition from my superiors for my work ethic. I went years without taking a sick day. I was the person you could always rely on when you needed something done.

But I was miserable the whole time.

“A black mug sitting on an office desk in Missoula with white writing which says “Hustle”” by Lost Coon Unsplash

It’s no different today — only the words have changed.

The idea of working harder than anyone else to get ahead is still pushed today. But now it has evolved into the “hustle” and the “grind.” Push yourself as hard as you can so that one day, you might not have to. Grind, grind, grind!!

No matter the expense. Your kids don’t matter. Neither does your spouse or significant other. What about your family? Your health? Well, that’s an afterthought. Because you have to make it to the top!

You can sleep when you’re dead! It’s like a contest to see who can get the least amount of sleep. We try to “one-up” each other in the lack of sleep department and we wear it like a badge of honor.

Working 12 to 18-hour days with little to no sleep is the only way you will become a billionaire! Screw what your body and mind are telling you because you have to be “successful” to be recognized. To be somebody! Because that is how we determine our worth, isn’t it?

Or it’s how we let others determine our worth.

What a lot of us fail to see though is most of these people who preach “grind it out” were already on third base and will tell you they’ve worked incredibly hard to hit a triple. But they haven’t sacrificed as much as you will. Even if they say they have.

They will tell you the reason you aren’t as “successful” as they are is that they worked harder than you. That’s all it takes! Hard work.

It’s kind of like people who say they were given a “small million dollar loan” to get started. But it was hard work! (Plus a few million dollars capital).

And they want to sell you their version of how you can do it too.

But they conveniently leave out how much luck is involved and how much of their luck came from their parents’ already established businesses or pocketbooks. They were in the right place at the right time — and in the right family.

And these are the people who have made it.

Photo by Marco Xu on Unsplash

What about all the others who haven’t? What’s their story? How did working 16-hour days turn out for them?

Because probably over 99% of “grinders” and “hustlers” have failed.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing since we can learn from other people’s mistakes, but we seem to overlook their stories. We celebrate the hits and ignore the misses.

Because we all want to be the best, right? We all believe we can make billions and own 3 yachts. That’s what we are told all the time. You just have to work hard.

We want fame, money, and to be well-known. It’s like high-school all over again, but for grown-ups. Money and fame equal being popular — and we all want to be popular. Even if it means we lose ourselves.

Given today’s technology and the internet, I believe there is more opportunity for becoming an entrepreneur. But that doesn’t mean you will become a “successful” entrepreneur because you “hustle.” Or “grind.”

Let’s be honest, most people who follow this advice will not reach whatever level of “success” they want. And it will all be at the expense of your health, relationships, and yourself.

I’m not telling you to not try, but be realistic. If you want to become a billionaire, go for it. If you want to work 18-hour days, that’s your decision.

Yet, you can achieve what you want without sacrificing yourself. You can make money and still get home to your family. You can chase your dream and still have a life.

But 18-hour working days are not healthy. And all the money in the world will not change it. You will burn out — it’s just a matter of when.

And remember, work is a part of life, not separate from it. There’s no balance. It’s all life. Your life.

So think about whether you are sacrificing your life for the “grind.” Because for me, it wasn’t worth it. You have to decide if it’s worth it for you.

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