Perplexed accountant looking at huge piles of documents held by his business partners while doing financial reports
Tae Kim

Tae Kim

The Hustle Culture Is Overrated

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If you want to become successful and rich – you must hustle.

Sleeping 8 hours per night is for losers.

Making time for self care is for the weak.

Slowing down will only make you poor.

For those of us that want to achieve better things for our lives – it’s easy to buy into this hustle culture as the pathway to success.

The media promotes it. Social media is full of it. And America is the land of opportunities – as long as you are willing to hustle for it.

However, what if I was to tell you that this hustle culture is overrated?

I’ve been there and done that – and it’s not all it’s hyped up to be.

And if you are not careful, buying into this hustle culture can not only destroy your finances, but the most important thing you care about – your family.

What Is The Hustle Culture?

If you have watched YouTube long enough, you’ve seen ads from guys like Tai Lopez or Dan Lok.

You would initially think it was something out of a SNL parody – but the funny thing is that these guys are completely serious.

They show off their brand new luxury cars or their ridiculous mansions, and tell you how they got to becoming this ridiculously rich by hustling.

They didn’t take any time off. They networked constantly. They leveraged this deal and that, and they got to where they are today.

And it isn’t just in the guru culture that you see this.

It’s also quite prevalent in American corporate culture.

We love to wear busyness as a badge of honor.

John – “Hey Joe, How are things?”

Joe – “Oh man, so busy. We are working on this deal and that. I slept at midnight last night and was back on my computer at 6 this morning.”

When we are surrounded by this culture – both online and offline, we can’t help ourselves but start to believe that the only way to success is to follow suit.

If we want to get anywhere in life, we have to constantly be working. We should be ashamed to take time off. The fact that we can’t constantly be working just shows that we are weak and can’t hang.

Why The Hustle Culture Is Overrated

However, this is all just BS. The Hustle Culture Is Overrated.

Yes. There is importance to working hard.

When it’s time to work – we should focus and work. Not dilly dally around.

It’s the same for students at school. When it’s time to study, we need to focus and study.

However, this doesn’t mean that working 80-90 hours a week necessarily leads to more productive and successful outcomes.

Most often, we work so much because either the culture is telling us that we need to or we just don’t know any other way.

You Are Actually Less Productive Working Longer Hours

First, you are actually less productive when you work longer hours and are juggling multiple activities.

I’m sure we’ve all experienced this in our own lives.

You’ve been working on something (e.g. a term paper, a powerpoint or a project) all day. It’s the end of the day, and you have a hard time concentrating. You keep reading the same line over and over again. And it’s not making sense.

The hustle culture would tell you that you are just weak.

You need to power down some red bulls and just focus. Just grit your way through it.

However, science actually tells us that you are actually doing more harm than good.

Cal Newport, the author of “Deep Work” talks about how humans can really only do 3-4 hours of hyper productive deep work per day.

Anything after that, we have diminished ability to focus and concentrate.

So technically, working longer hours will lead to making more mistakes and reduced creativity, productivity and motivation.

Hustle Culture Can Destroy Your Health

Another negative effect of the hustle culture is, what it can do to your health.

The hustle culture celebrates sleeping only a few hours a night and never taking time off.

You hear people talking about how they only slept 3 hours last night and the last time they took a real vacation was 2 years ago.

It reflects how hard they are working and how important they are.

However, our bodies are not machines.

We were created to require adequate sleep and rest.

Can you imagine driving your car without regular maintenance? What would happen? It would break down midway on the road.

In the same way, I know too many people who overworked themselves and destroyed their health.

In Japan, there is a term called “Karoshi” which can be translated literally as “overwork death.”

Can you imagine literally trading your life for work?

“Health is like money, we never have a true idea of its value until we lose it.” -Josh Billings

You Lose Sight Of The Most Important Things

To me, the most devastating effect of the hustle culture is the fact that you can lose sight of the most important things in your life – your family.

Work is interesting. It’s the source of many of our problems. But it’s also the source of many of the things we value – purpose, fulfillment, a sense of belonging.

That is why so many people become addicted to work and become workaholics.

Now, again, I’m not saying we shouldn’t work hard, because doing excellent work is very important.

However, when we are so hyper-focused on it, we can lose sight of why we are working hard in the first place.

I was very much bought into the hustle culture most of my 20s and 30s.

When I didn’t have a family, I didn’t really feel the impact too much. However, once I had kids – everything changed.

It’s embarrassing for me to say, but there were many times when I would prioritize work over spending time with my kids, especially when they were young.

Work gave me a sense of purpose. I knew I was good at it and I knew how to navigate it – the hustle culture gave me the excuse.

However, deep down inside, I couldn’t face the fact that I didn’t know what I was doing as a parent a lot of times. I struggled watching the kids because it poked at my insecurities – I didn’t like the feeling of not being in control. Not having confidence in my abilities.

Now, I’m not going to blame the hustle culture for my behavior, but it definitely was a factor.

There Is A Better Way

Having experienced the dark side of the hustle culture, I want to share with you that there is a better way to approach our work life.

Focusing On Few Key Activities Is Actually More Effective

Gary Keller, The Author Of “One Thing,” and the founder of Keller Williams, found amazing results with his real estate company when he narrowed his focus to one singular project – channeling all his energy to publishing his best selling book.

Today, Keller Williams is the largest real estate company in the world by agent count.

The premise of his book is that we oftentimes try to work on too many things at once.

We have 10 priorities. 15 goals and 25 tasks for the day.

However, in order to produce effective results, we must focus on the few.

The hustle culture promotes that we should always be busy with multiple projects, multiple clients.

However, it is very rare that people who operate like this produce real, tangible results.

They look constantly busy – but at the end of the day, they hardly move the needle on the things that really matter.

If you want to find success in your career and therefore real sustainable wealth, develop the habit of focusing on the few.

Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time

We often think of effective time management as just blocking out times on our calendar.

However, in order to become effective with our time, we must manage our energy, not just our calendar.

We’ve all experienced feeling refreshed and in the zone after a good night of sleep.

When we started working, we felt like we were in the zone. Able to knock out task after task like superman.

In order to consistently produce this state, we need to effectively manage our energy level by ensuring these four are well managed.

Our Nutrition – A simple rule of thumb I like to use for food is this. Did this grow out of a tree or from the ground looking like this? I’m sure there is no Twinkie tree, so I try to avoid as much processed food as possible.

Sleep – Keep your phone away from your bed and get yourself an analog alarm clock.

Exercise – Just move your body everyday. It could be as simple as taking a short walk or taking 5 minutes to stretch.

Stress – You can’t cut all stress from your life, but think about whether there are stressful people or situations that I can remove myself from.

Don't Lose Sight Of The Most Important Things In Your Life

As I mentioned earlier, I used the hustle culture as an excuse to avoid spending time with my own kids.

Please don’t do what I did.

Bonnie Ware, the author of “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying” talks in her book how every male patient that she nursed said

“I wished I hadn’t worked so hard.”

They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship.

When we are immersed in the hustle culture, we can use it as an excuse for work – we are working hard to provide for our family, we are hustling so we can have a better future.

However, what our family wants from us is our time. Our presence.

I’ve definitely learned from my mistakes and now am trying to draw clear boundaries to when I’m working and when I am not anymore.

Even though I’m still blundering through it, I try my best to focus on my wife and my kids when I am at home.

When I am on my deathbed, I definitely don’t want one of my regrets to be – I wish I didn’t hustle so hard.

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9 months ago

I understand the point of this post very much. I see two nuances however – the new trend is about the *side* hustle more than just the whole hustle (working endless hours). Still, when you add your regular job to a side hustle, you’re putting in more hours than you want to. Secondly, the ultimate goal is to generate more wealth with less work, and that means passive income, which is also a popular meme right now. But as with everything it’s complicated to the lifestyle of the individual, and inventing a side hustle is no easy feat.

10 months ago

That’s so not me. I kind of wish I’d have worked a little harder. I was so lazy, always have been. But I still way outdistanced my dreams and hit all my career, family and financial goals. My competition all out worked me by a ton, but they didn’t have balanced lives. I firmly believe you can have it all without being over stressed and overworked.