Problem with Productivity

Hustle is for Hipsters and Lunch

Since the dawn of mainstream internet self help (sometime in the late 90’s), the word Hustle has been on the forefront of most social media platforms and the pocket ammo of most self-proclaimed business gurus and life coaches.  It’s the concept that to achieve your goals, you need to put your head down, ignore the ‘haters’, close your eyes and plow forward like an angry rhino.  Like a hungry, wild four-ton, bus like creature with a giant dagger for a nose teased by one of those African safari trucks full of tourists trying to catch the next viral video.

Recently however, that word has become like a nagging toothache in my soul.  Its been used without caution or regard for life’s situation.  Too many times I have heard stories of pain and lose from individuals who ‘hustled’ or thought they ‘hustled’ and ended up loosing it all.  I too fell victim to the hustle mentality as it has been presented to the masses.  And let’s be honest, those self-help or motivational geniuses don’t care too much about you, your family or the life you currently have.  They want your hard-earned money and will sell you on the concept that “nothing but hard work and hustle will get you to your life’s goals and dreams”.

Although I can certainly agree that in order to achieve your goals in business or personal life, there is certainly some hard work that needs to happen.  Very rarely do incredible, life changing, thunder-punch to the solar-plexus opportunities simply fall into one’s lap.   I’m not saying that those will never happen and maybe you will be one of the lucky ones (and I will envy you and likely have a little resentfulness). Is it possible for me to be so bold as to propose a different perspective?  One that involves a constant observation of your surroundings and involves s little more discipline and effort?  That hustle alone is not healthy, but a healthy amount of hustle that involves more focused intent, grit and a sensitivity to what is around you may in fact breed a much more significant return to your time and effort.  That searching for the small daily opportunities and making daily choices that effect our progress towards our goals in small but meaningful ways.

Let’s keep the “Hustle” for the hipsters, gym t-shirts and social hashtags, for those who might not have the heavy responsibility on the day as those self-employed parents with bills to pay and mouths to feed and not much else to worry about in life but their own forward progress.  I personally have a few more responsibilities in this time of my life, so a blind “hustle” simply will not be beneficial for anyone.  Please don’t get me wrong, more power to those that don’t have significant responsibilities, who don’t have a spouse or partner, no kids, who simply go to work or school and have plenty of time for self.  There is an incredible number of books available for these individuals, but these chapters are more intended for those that want to see their dreams come to reality without risking the happiness, safety, security and contentment of their other responsibilities.  They are intended as a guide to avoiding the problematic flaws in pursuing your passions and goals when the hustle and life balance becomes out of control.

These are the hard lessons I learned when I started my business and my journey as an entrepreneur.  It has taken me years of struggle and many sleepless nights, and a massive caffeine addiction to start the process of trying to refocus my hustle and intention.     Stick with me, we will revisit this idea in a few pages…. here’s a teaser, it’s the main concept!

As some of you are aware, I have begun the process of trying to become an author, to pen words to paper (or push keys on my laptop) to form what I hope will inspire and potential help others in their business and personal ventures.  The above is a small section of my pages so far.  My goal for 2019…to finish.  I even purchased a “Finish Calendar” from my favorite author Jon Acuff.

Why?? Why would I purchase a calendar based off one of my favorite books “Finish” by Jon Acuff??

I need to be productive.  I need to feel that no time is wasted.  That when I’m not in my treatment room with a client or with my kids or busy with an adulting responsibility, I’m working on something….my book, a blog, looking for the next opportunity, advertising, marketing, ect… being still is not in my vocabulary.  Even if I happen to be fortunate enough to have some social time with friends, unfortunately my phone is on, my calendar is open or my Evernote app is filling up with thoughts or ideas.

This is a problem….it’s a crutch or a vise.  It’s what I need to keep from facing the reality of life or to feel validated or important to the world I know.  Being an entrepreneur is fantastic.  I love the ability to create my own schedule, to make the choices that will push my business further, to take the risks and to see the eventual rewards.  It hasn’t always been an easy road, in fact, its been a long, hard, discouraging, painful, joyful, frustrating, glorious, happy and difficult road.  A mixed bag of emotions…sometimes a daily mixture of assorted mental feelings that can confuse a NASA scientist.  The problem with productivity is that there is no rock bottom to being productive.  There really isn’t a place you can hit that feels like the world is crashing in.  Being productive can be tiring and burn out can happen, there can be an oversight of others or neglect of family and friends, however, it is often looked at in a positive light.   The more productive we are, the more we feel affirmed and validated.  We can be praised for being motivational or inspiring leaders in our fields and sometimes we look up to those that are over-achievers, like they have it all.   However, if this trap is not recognized, this can become a serious problem and can lead to other negative, more destructive problems.

Unfortunately for myself, I fell into another vise that was a little more damaging than being over-productive.  For a couple of years, I became addicted to online gambling.  It was a vice that I clung to as it gave me a mental jolt that I hadn’t had in years.  For those that know my story this may not be a surprise.  For those that don’t, my life wasn’t all roses and butterflies when I made the choice to venture into the vortex of online gambling, and being in a state of clinical depression and high anxiety, certainly made the addiction that much harder to break.  The already altered brain chemistry changes and the addiction takes over.  I am most certainly not proud of this part of my story, and am rather embarrassed and feel extremely guilty when writing about it.  I have five kids, a home and a business to think about, how could I be so stupid?!?  It will be a stain on the pages of my story that I can’t remove and will always be a source of shame.

This was my vice…. it became my crutch and my mistake.  Obviously it was my ultimate choice to do what I did and there really is no good excuse for that decision, however, through extensive counseling, I have come to realize the influences that may have led to that moment.  Self realization is sometimes difficult to experience.  The chance to discover some of the external influences that led to the decision to begin relying on my vise was certainly eye opening and began to effect my overall perspective.  Thinking I always had to hustle and do everything for others all the time without a break for myself led to a cascading self destruction.

So I challenge the Hustle concept.  I challenge those that feel like they are never enough and never feel productive enough.  I challenge you to stop and take note of your vises.  Do you have a crutch you rely on because you have hustled for too long?  You haven’t taken time to regroup and refocus?   I challenge you to take some “You” time.  Some time to stop being productive and look after yourself.  It is hard to do and for those of us that struggle with the constant need to be productive or feel important or validated by the work we do, I challenge you to Hustle towards time for yourself.  To breath, observe, recoup and refocus.  Please don’t fall into the same trap that I did.  Whether its gambling or alcohol or drugs… it is so easy to fall into a crutch and to lean into a vise that will ultimately lead to self destruction.   I hit rock bottom, and I’m making my way out, trying to take life as it comes, a day at a time… looking towards What’s Next (title of my book, which is meant to leave you in a little suspense about what the rest of the book is about…did it work??).

So I bought a calendar; to schedule my year in 2019, to make sure that I have time for my book, my blog and for me!  My hope is that you will take some time for you throughout your week to breath and let go of the vise of feeling like you always have to be over-productive.

Until next time, Be Well

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