By Andrés Muñoz

Beep! Beep! Beep! The alarm goes off as you start another day of what many now call the grind. Whether you are an entrepreneur pushing your business to the top, or an executive at a big corporation, there’s a delicate balance between being a hard and effective worker and being a servant of “hustle culture”.

The insane belief that your life isn’t moving forward unless you dedicate 100% of your body, mind, time to getting a better job, a bigger paycheque and nothing else. 

Work To Live, Don’t Live To Work

For many, part of their world orbits around the consumption of goods. The more income you have to purchase said goods, the more successful you appear, whether you want to treat yourself, your family, or anyone you might care about. However, the constant and relentless search for something better, something bigger, is an unhealthy celebration of how people are never satisfied. 

With billionaires as role models, the endless search for riches and status leads to a dangerous addiction to work, which can cause a whole series of problems in the workplace and for personal health. Being under constant stress raises your cortisol levels, resulting in anxiety, depression, heart issues, and more. 

Hustle culture is an unspoken agreement in many companies, where only those who work until the latest hours and set their lives completely aside for the company’s benefit obtain recognition. It creates unhealthy work environments, with overworked individuals ending up with serious cases of burnout, quitting or asking for a transfer to another department, or even worse, encapsulating their life around the job. 

Japan is famous for this, where putting in long hours is seen as a sign of commitment to the company. However, this has a dark side, with the Japanese having a literal word for overworked-related deaths: karoshi.

The problem with hustle culture isn’t about tired individuals clocking in early and clocking out late. It’s the sad belief that nothing will satisfy you and that overworking is the only way to earn respect when life has so much more to offer than just the grind. There are other, healthier measures of success

Never-ending Hustle = Neverending Issues

Would it be wrong to call the “hustle culture” a revved-up version of workaholism? Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing inherently evil with hard work; it is a respectable and noble pursuit necessary to sustain life. 

Yes, you are chasing your dreams. Yes, you are bringing home the bread and putting food on the table. But when all is said and done, do you have enough time to enjoy the food you obtained with those around you? 

Does your work schedule permit an afternoon of fun with your friends and family? Or are the meetings and conferences you must be a part of controlling all of your time? This is when hustle culture gets toxic. 

As a side note, this shouldn’t be mistaken for those who sadly live in poverty and are forced to work all day due to the inequalities in this world. Unfortunately, these situations are mostly outside of their control. While a good work ethic and dedication might help, companies, governments, and foundations should always provide assistance and create opportunities for those in need. Their hard work should be recognised and rewarded fairly. 

Escaping The Hustle

What if you are ambitious? Isn’t it okay to aim for the stars and have high aspirations so that if you don’t complete them, you’ll still be better than when you started? 

I would say that it’s less about the “rise and grind” ethos and more about evaluating priorities and asking yourself if your productivity is the only way to give value to the world. If you grind long enough, eventually, you’ll get tired. Maybe that will be the moment where you stop, reflect, and simply leave. That is fine too, as that is how a part of our world works. Just make sure to make it out of the rat race alive and with your soul intact.

So what to do with hustle culture? Evaluate yourself in regards to your productivity vs who you are. You’re not just a means for production, but a human being. Mental health strategy website headversity.com suggests several things, the first being awareness. If you’re aware of your situation, you’ll be in a place where you can change and act upon it. Clarify your goals and ask yourself if your intentions honour or hinder them through stress. Hustle culture is all about you eventually receiving the fruits of your labour, so live in the now and reward yourself in this moment, not later. Find a better work/life balance.

In the words of the brand story and life design coach Celinne Da Costa: “In a world that is inundated with distractions, busy-ness, and addiction to hustling, there is merit in taking a step back and looking at the big picture.