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Have you humble-bragged about your hustle today?

When I left my 9-5 job to write full time, the weight of finding 40 hours of work to fill the week suffocated me. That first week was a deep, dark hole that I could never fill – no matter how many pitches I sent, words I typed, or even how much money I earned.

I chalked it up to the pressure of launching a business. But in reality, it was more like the pressure to be busy, to hustle.

The need to feel busy and show others how much we’re "grinding" is intoxicating. We’ve intrinsically tied our sense of value to our productive output so tightly, it’s hard to separate the two.

We expect success to be the result of sweat and tears and outrageous hours, but does it have to be that way? What if I can work thirty hours a week and make more than enough to support myself? Twenty-five?

Why I’m rejecting the ‘hustle’ mindset

Hours worked ≠ productive output

Just because I sit at my desk for forty or fifty or sixty hours a week, doesn’t mean I’m going to get forty or fifty or sixty hours of work done. Personally, I’m much more effective for about 6 hours each day. The rest… not so much. So why force myself to keep up the pretense of work when I’ve already accomplished what I set out to?

There are more fulfilling ways to invest that extra time.

I love my job. I love to write. But there are so many other aspects of my life that I feel just as passionately about. My family. My health. Reading. Puppies. I want to measure my life by more than just my workweek. Working less creates space for these other passions to become a much bigger part of my life.

I want to enjoy the flexibility I’m working so hard for.

There’s a reason I left the world of full-time employment: flexibility. Like anything else, it’s a trade-off. I work my butt off while at my desk, and that allows me to be incredibly flexible about when I work and when I, say, do yoga or visit with my nephew or walk around looking for other people’s dogs to pet. I work hard to afford myself that kind of flexibility, so it’s important that I actually take advantage of and enjoy it.

Enough is enough is enough.

My theory about hustle is that it’s driven by our compulsion for more. More hours on the timesheet, more articles written, more money in the bank…

Striving for more is fine – up until a certain point. It’s important to me to recognize and appreciate when enough is enough. If I’ve already pulled in $8,000 this month, do I really need to take on another project? If I’ve written more this week than I set out to, do I need to stay late on Friday? No. Enough is enough is enough.

Kiera's a freelance writer based in Chicago. She loves writing, exploring the city, and cinnamon coffee (not always in that order.) Catch up with her on Twitter @kieraabbamonte.