The Myth of Always Being on the Hustle

We cannot see our reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see. Taoist Proverb

Maybe, like me, you were socialised to believe that working harder and hustling more were the keys to success?


I can't quite trace back to where this settled into my psyche as the modus operandi, but I remember hearing from my parents that the devil would find work for my idle hands. I wasn’t a fan of the devil, so I kept busy.

And then there was 80 and 90's tv with 'I'll rest when I'm dead' battle cry.


As technology revolutions started to emerge in the 90's and noughties 'Rise and Grind' was the go-to anthem for many a young go-getter in my world.


And without pausing to question it, this became how it was. The more intrusive technology became, the more we tried to squeeze into the day in the pursuit of efficiency and productivity. We became the 'always-on' responders whose mission became speed and volume, as if it gave us a sense of omnipotence.


Did it actually make us feel indispensable? Was this just my special kind of crazy? I’m not alone am I?


Somewhere along the line, quality was forfeited to a show of availability, and we made constant stress and hustle fundamental to success. Busyness and long hours became prestigious; our mark; our Personal Brands.


And as our lives evolved, we leapt from deadline to commitment to responsibility, perpetually in motion, rarely in connection, except for vacations .. maybe ... if we were lucky enough to vacation away from the maddening sirens of our inboxes and messaging apps.


Sounds exhausting and soul crushing right?


Well, not nearly as exhausting and soul crushing as our response to the inevitable overwhelm and anxiety that roots within us as a result of the unending hustle and grind that we subscribe to.


Curiously, many of us perceive the stress, anxiety and overwhelm as a weakness for which we blame ourselves.


And to overcome and conquer this weakness, we push harder.

We believe that we just need to hang in there.

We persuade ourselves that we just have to tough it out a little bit longer so that we can push past our limits and propel ourselves toward the next deadline or milestone.


Effectively, we respond to our stress, anxiety and overwhelm by bullying ourselves into a state of numbness or oblivion.


Pushing yourself to always be on, constantly available, connected and productive, and to match our hyperconnected world is an unkindness that neither your body nor your mind can withstand in the long-term.


Study after study is discovering how our constant busyness and constant striving inevitably interferes and detracts from the success that we actually could experience.


Not surprisingly, we take a knock to our physical and mental well-being, resulting in burnout.


Hot on the heels of burnout, is a reduction in both our life and job satisfaction, reduced productivity, a compromised attention span and an inability to connect the dots we may have easily connected had we been rested. Even out ethics slacken as the burn consumes us. Eeeeeek!

Burnout is what happens when you try to avoid being human for too long. Michael Gungar

When you're consumed by the hustle and grind lifestyle, you may take on the appearance of a calm duck floating above the water, but you end up exerting increasing amounts of energy below the surface.


That's a hell of a lot of effort to put into slowing down, diminishing your impact or, worse, coming to a grinding halt!


Before that happens, make time for stillness.

Make time to luxuriate in the sweetness of 'doing nothing'; of recovering and recalling your scattered parts.


Take time to become mindful of what your mind is full of. Delight in the simplest awarenesses. Delight in knowing what you mind, heart, body and soul are eager for you to know.


Your awareness is your best opportunity for choice, and choice is the key to your freedom, to grace and to ease.


I know that you think of downtime. I know that you might say to yourself that you will take a break when you finish the job at hand.


Here’s the thing: the job will never be done. The tasks will always mushroom and the more overwhelmed you are the lower your capacity to prioritise, delegate or delete them.


So, I invite you to treasure leisure.

Prioritise it.


True leisure.


Those simple activities that facilitate psychological and physical replenishment.

A simple walk in an open space can do untold wonders for your soul. The briefest stint of creativity can ease your nervous system and restore your optimism. The companionship of friends and loved ones can refresh your mind and reconnect you to your heart.

True leisure involves anything that feeds your soul.

It’s free time that allows you to actually feel free.


If you recognise this struggle and feel that you may need some support, you are welcome to contact me at safiyyah@newhabits.co.za to take advantage of a complimentary 1-hour coaching session to discover the ways in which you can slow down and create more productivity.


From 6 – 9 December, I am hosting Passage to Bliss, my complimentary programme. The programme will be hosted online and the sole objective of Passage to Bliss is to help you surface above the chaos and to make your way to your unique genius. You will find more information here: https://www.newhabits.co.za/passagetobliss



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