Hustle culture is addicting.
It’s all too easy to get sucked into this feeling of overachievement and productivity.
Soon, I was convinced success went beyond working diligently.
It meant becoming obsessed. True "hustle" demanded I cancel plans with friends or family, drop my old hobbies and passions, and give up any wasted time formerly known as leisure. I dreamed of finding the perfect coffee + power nap combo to stay awake, working past 3 or 4 in the morning.
I knew I desperately needed to take a break, but at the same time, I felt embarrassed when I started to burn out.
How dare I slow down when it seemed others were going 4x faster, 4x longer in an effort to #hustleharder?
So I kept going.
I kept going, but I didn’t have a reason to.
I’m not wired like those who find the rise and grind naturally rewarding.
My goals were set for the sake of accomplishing goals, and every task was somehow one step closer to proving myself.
To who? I don’t know.
But I had zero intentions for anything I did except that I did it.
The more I tried to "hustle" like the internet gurus, the worse my productivity and output became.
Eventually, the grind mentality I chased after came crashing down when I managed to slow down enough to ask myself: Why am I doing this again?
No answer. Ouch.
Tired and stressed, I still didn’t realize there was another way.
How were these people doing so much with such joy, excitement, and energy?
The truth is, I had missed it altogether. I thought I could work myself into a fulfilling life.
In reality, hustling (in the healthy sense) was a result of being intentional. Being so purposeful, so deliberate, that you were driven to reach a goal defined by your values and beliefs.
The hustle I admired was fueled by intentionality.
Turns out, I didn’t want the hustle, I craved what drove people to work so hard in the first place.
And the fantastic news? I could live an intentional life and ditch the grind I secretly hated.
Being intentional would be my new hustle.
Here’s how you can do it (and how I’m doing it, too).
Step 1) Identify your values and beliefs.
They are already there. You don’t need to go "find yourself" or anything - just remind yourself of your values and beliefs.
I’ll be honest. This step wasn’t as easy as I’d thought it’d be. I didn’t find a totally amazing journal prompt or guided meditation that led me to uncover them. I sort of had to chip away, asking myself questions about what worked for me and what didn’t until I found a value or belief at the root of it.
So yes, the first step requires introspection.
That means you might have to slow down your pace. This can mean different things for different people. It might mean journaling or meditation or it might mean watering your plants and doing daily tasks and taking a mental note of each moment - what do you feel, see, smell? It might mean sitting in those quiet moments, or maybe, just paying attention to your shower thoughts.
My point is, this doesn’t have to be a serious, formal process. You just need to figure out what’s important to you.
Step 2) Set goals and visions.
Next, it’s time to set goals. What does that mean exactly? It’s defining the direction you want to go in or what you're aiming towards. If your life was a storybook, where do you want the main character (you) to go? This should align with your core values.
If you’re like me, identifying your goals - not the ones for achievement's sake - is tricky. I didn’t know if I had any real goals. It wasn’t that I was lazy or unmotivated, I just didn’t know what I wanted yet. The idea of setting these elaborate goals for a dream life was scary and daunting. I didn’t know what my "dream life" was to me yet.
If that’s you, don’t worry about it right now. This takes time and contemplation, and it’s something you’ll be refining as you go along.
But here’s a secret: you can practice this.
Starting setting baby, short term goals. You can even limit them to the next few hours. Seriously.
Choose one of your values, and set a tiny, but intentional goal for it.
Let’s say you want to prioritize mindfulness. Setting a full lifestyle goal for that value can be intimidating. But can you practice this intention for the next hour with some meditation?
Good, start there!
Step 3) Take purposeful, deliberate action.
Now that you know what you’re aiming towards, ensure your actions take you closer to those goals and visions. Everyone’s intentions are going to be unique to them, and so what is purposeful action will be different.
Intentional living often involves a slower pace, but you can be 100% purposeful while working 12 hour days. Likewise, you can work 4 hours a day and still not be intentional. Try not to get caught up in the surface portrayal of intentionality. It’s not about an aesthetic of journaling, lighting candles, or guided meditations for #intentionalliving on your Instagram feed. Keep in mind the real meaning.
Bonus Tip: Not everything will be intentional.
Inevitably, our culture tends to turn something like being intentional into an all-or-nothing trend with high standards.
So, I’m telling you now: not everything you do is purposeful, meaningful, or matches your intentions. There are still in-between moments and filler episodes in life. Everything shouldn’t be deliberate, and distractions aren’t all bad. Some things are on autopilot and that’s amazing. Imagine how exhausted you’d be everything you did was intentional.
You mean brushing my teeth needs to align with my core values and beliefs? No thanks.
Reminder: things can be taken too far - I should know.
For me, hustle culture and the race for productivity distracted me from living out my long term vision, my values, and my beliefs. It stopped me from even figuring out what those were.
So, if I’m honest, I’m not so good at living intentionally at the moment.
But ironically, one of my intentions is to be okay with that.
So let’s chat! What’s one intention you’d love to start living out?