In the past month or so, a popular phrase, "the hustle," has come up in my conversations with friends. Frankly, this topic has surfaced because I have always struggled with overworking myself without realizing it. From a vulnerable standpoint, my career path is my security blanket. I've been goal-oriented since I was a kid and anytime I felt upset about my personal life I'd run toward what I could accomplish. Any kind of school project involved extensive creativity and always doing more than I was required. Not to say this characteristic is bad in any way, it's one of my strengths and has come in handy. But as we all know, a little too much of a good thing can be bad if it becomes our primary focus. So from someone who has hustled, sprinted, leaped and everything in between, here are a few ways to work with a purpose without being self-destructive.
1. Be careful in how you use the "you do you" mentality.
"You do you," "do work," "be a ladyboss, manboss, boss' boss" are all pressures centered around "me, myself and I." I have definitely said these statements but realized they do nothing in helping me succeed. I definitely think people need motivation to push through challenges, feel encouraged and develop confidence. At the same time, these phrases can be used as flippant excuses for every decision we make that benefits us. Without knowing it, they can bring us further from our genuine persona.
2. Hustling causes imbalance.
Sometimes I have to take a step back to take a step forward. Looking at the big picture and deciding what to eliminate will make room for a healthy work ethic and stamina to reach goals. You can't be everything to everyone and honestly we can't have it all. No one has it all. That is a lie we are told daily. No matter if you are extroverted, introverted or a mix of both, we all need time to evaluate how we're crowding our schedules. It helps put things into perspective and clear our minds.
3. Silence is an answer too.
We're all tired, bored, exhausted and "just can't even" anymore because we truly don't have the energy or capacity. We were not made to go 100 miles an hour 24/7. Sleep is one thing but letting go of plans and what we personally want to get done is so crucial to our attitudes. When we're running through life to beat another record, we simply can't enjoy the journey to get there. Good things take time pacing yourself while doing your best will come full circle. It may not happen tomorrow, next month or in a year's time but you will experience blessings in the process. Give yourself a break to make space for what matters.
4. When we can't quite hustle as fast as we'd like, we're hard on ourselves.
I don't like unnecessary competition and I never have. Using our work ethic as an identity only keeps us on the up-and-up for a while, and when we fall or come across someone that may be better at the game than we are, it's unsettling. This world has us believing we are anxious all the time when really we're just feeling the pressure of not being enough. Taking our time through work and rest gives us strength to stick things out. This practice develops patience in the goal we are working toward without expecting a certain outcome in our own timing.
5. The hustle has us predicting the future.
When someone asks me "Where do you see yourself in five years?" I never know the answer I want to give, much less what that person is expecting to hear. I don't know where I will be or what I will be doing and it's not my place to know. When things don't turn out like we expected them to, we get bent out of shape and can't understand why the future didn't align with our "five-year plan." I'm sure if you've gotten this far into the article you're a hardworking individual or you're interested in what I've written. I'm here to tell you that you're doing great and your five plus-year future is bright! It may not be predictable but you're exactly where you need to be.
6. Time-management fosters character.
You can be dedicated to work while being conscientious of how the outcomes will effect others around you. Your work should glorify God's plan for your life and serve something other than your self-esteem. We are all given strengths to work towards a greater good that isn't all about us. Thinking less about how your needs can be met will keep you mentally sound and gracious towards your co-workers, family, friends and strangers. When we can separate ourselves from personal goals, our work becomes purpose-driven. Our to-do lists become less about what we "have to do" and more about what we are "meant to do."
Remember, working hard is a trait, not an identity. Believe me, in a world where people feel unloved or uncared for, it's easy to put faith in our plans. So take a walk, listen to a friend or nap. You're a five-star.
"You don't have to get a job that makes others feel comfortable about what they perceive as your success. You don't have to explain what you plan to do with your life. You don't have to justify your education by demonstrating its financial rewards. You don't have to maintain an impeccable credit score...You have to pay your own electric bill. You have to be kind. You have to give it all you got. You have to find people who love you truly and love them back with the same truth."
-- Lucy Elizabeth Christopher, Creator of the Operative Word