In my January newsletter, I discussed my new habit this year.  I shared how I like the idea of listening to podcasts and audiobooks but couldn’t find the space to do so.  In my planning workshop in December, a member shared how they use the time they spend getting ready in the morning to listen to podcasts.  I realized that this was the perfect space for this habit.  

Fast forward a week later, and I’m still enjoying my new habit of podcast listening while I get ready!   However, this habit has forced me to look into and try different podcasts.  I’m slowly learning what I like and what I don’t. 

It turns out I don’t like motivational speeches that tell me to hustle, push farther, and work harder.  Hustle is often equated with success.  The belief is that we must work relentlessly and harder than everyone else to succeed.  There is a badge of honor for the hours we work. 

I have deleted the podcasts that promote hustle because this culture is detrimental to my happiness, my mental health, and my overall well-being. 

Today, I want to talk about the cost of hustle culture.  


The Glorification of Overwork

The hustle culture has romanticized overwork and burnout.  It suggests that the only way to success is through tireless efforts.  And this belief is normal. 

I bought into this culture.  I worked long hours in my full-time jobs and then would go home to work towards my CPA designation.  I would only give myself one day a week to do errands, visit friends, and try to nurture a relationship (with my now husband).  I continued this practice when I became an entrepreneur.  I remember giving up everything I did for fun (TV, ballroom dancing, and crafts) to dedicate all my time to our businesses.  

The cost of this belief was huge.   Within three years, I was burned out, my productivity was low, I felt like a failure in my business, and I believed I wasn’t cut out to be an entrepreneur.  I gained weight and was unhappy with my life.  

My experience is not unique.  These are the costs of the hustle culture. 

Productivity vs. Busy Work

Many associate the hustle culture with productivity, but the relationship is more complex.  I love productivity.  But Productivity is not about constant motion, constant action, or being busy.  Productivity is about being effective and efficient.  It is about productively working on the right activities so you have time for rest, recharge, creative activities, and fun.  

We become less productive when we overwork, work without breaks, work long hours, and sacrifice sleep.  Our ability to solve problems or be creative diminishes. 

For me, my focus diminishes significantly if batteries are low.  A blog will take longer to write, Social media posts will be challenging to create, and I find myself easily distracted.   This is not productivity.  I may be sitting at my desk, but it’s more busy work than productive work.  

Sacrificing Well-being for Success

The hustle culture seems to require us to sacrifice for our success.  We are required to sacrifice our relationships and leisure activities in the pursuit of success.   Yet, my relationships with my husband and friends are what make me happy and keep me grounded.  Social interactions and relationships are so important to our well-being.  To our mental health.  

So many of us suffered during the pandemic lockdowns because we missed our social connections.  Even an introvert like me suffered. 

What hustle requires of us is not sustainable.  It causes chronic stress, burnout, and poor mental health. 

I talked about everything I had until I became an entrepreneur.  At the end of those first three years, I had given up so much and was so unhappy. I couldn’t find the reasons why I was pushing myself so hard.  Why work those hours and put in that time if I couldn’t enjoy the results?  And because I was so unfocused, tired, and distracted, the results were not there, and I felt I had to work and do more.  It became a vicious cycle.  One where I felt the only way to get off was to go back to the “job.” 

A Better Way to Think of Success

I believe in creating what I call a strategic aim.  A strategic aim is about creating an overall guide or plan as to what you want your life to look like. Once you know what you want it to look like (I like to use the wheel of like to guide my vision), you determine how to make it happen.  Maybe set intermediate milestones.  

I have my strategic aim and update it every couple of years.  When I launched Acuity Path in 2020, I forgot to review my strategic aim to ensure that the business I was building would help me achieve my vision.  Things happened, and the vision of Acuity Path was corrected, so I am on the path toward my vision.  

However, in my vision, I have time for those important to me.  I travel, enjoy life, and have an active and healthy lifestyle.  If I follow a hustle way of life, these things will not happen for me. 

This is why I focus on a more holistic approach to living life.  A life of harmony.  One where I focus each day on accomplishment and enjoyment.  I make time for those important to me; I exercise, take breaks, and rest. 

I’ve learned to be selective of where I spend my time and what I give my time to.  I am present and play at 100% wherever I invest my resources.  When I need rest, I take it. 

I love what I do and, therefore, love to work.  I love to research, read, and grow in my focus areas, but when I need rest, I take it.  I make time to get together with friends.  I date my husband, and I exercise regularly. 

My mental health is the best it’s ever been.

Life is a Pendulum.

I couldn’t finish this article without addressing that I see life as a pendulum.  I believe that life is about flexibility.  

When I have a deadline or a launch, I will do what it takes to make it happen.  I have big goals, and I do the work to make them happen.  

There is a time to hustle.  To push hard. 

However, you can’t stay in this hustle mode.  The pendulum must swing back to recover and finally settle back in the middle. 

Each day, week, and month will have its own rhythm where the pendulum will swing.  My husband and I support each other as our pendulums swing.  We almost balance each other when our pendulums swing in opposite each other.  Our lives feel most in chaos when we are both on the end of a swing.   At these times, we need more communication and patience than others.  But we also help each other swing the pendulum back when it’s time.   


The push for the hustle culture is everywhere.  But the cost is too large.  What we think will allow us to do more, accomplish more, and be more successful is counterproductive.  Hustle culture leads to burnout, busy work, more procrastination, less focus, and a sacrifice of the things that are important to us.  

It’s time to change what you define as success.  Stop looking at how many hours you work.  Stop looking solely at your bank account.  Start by looking at what kind of life you want (your strategic aim), then start cultivating the life you want.  This may mean changing how you do business and where you spend your time.  Focus instead on achievement and enjoyment and create a life that makes you happy.  Make you happy today, not ten to twenty years from now.   Today.  

I encourage all of us to stop celebrating hustle and celebrate those who live in alignment with who they are and what they want.   Celebrate those who live with flexibility.

Let me know what you will do to stop participating in hustle culture.    

“Never confuse activity with productivty.”

Rich Warren

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