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If you’re a freelancer or consultant you need to hustle. A lot.
But there’s no question that the hustling mentality can take a toll on your mindset, your energy, your happiness, and your health. There’s plenty of science that backs up the importance of downtime for continued well-being and creativity.
Most of us intellectually appreciate the benefits of slowing down and taking time to stop the hustle.
But, if you’re like me, whenever you think about slowing down there’s a voice in the back of your head telling you that if you stop hustling you run the risk of losing ground, losing your edge, losing clients, and losing income.
Quieting your inner hustle voice
The more I tell myself I need to relax, ease up, and stop hustling—just for a bit—the louder the voice gets. Sometimes it shows up when I’m trying to sleep: “Why are you sleeping? You should be hustling. You’re going to fail if you don’t start hustling—right now!”
Ever hear that voice?
Many of us spend years trying to quiet the hustle voice. We struggle to dampen it down and shut it up. We take up activities—sometimes not useful ones like drink or drugs—to temporarily quiet the hustle voice. Or we take up healthier activities like running, a workout, or meditation.
But we still hear the hustle voice.
It’s hard to quiet that voice because it speaks some truth: If you stop hustling, you do run the risk of losing your edge. It’s not a crazy voice. There’s a harsh reality in what it says.
But always being in hustle mode doesn’t work either. It’s exhausting.
So, what’s a body to do?
I no longer try to quiet the hustle voice. What I’ve done instead is channel that voice into activities that will help me hustle better. I tell that pesky little voice that we’re going to focus on a task that's going to help us relax and enjoy the next few hours so we can get to an even better hustle—LATER!
Here are three ways I hustle when I’m not hustling:
There are plenty of sites that offer free or low cost on-line classes, Udemy, Coursera, Creative Live, and Skillshare to name a few. There are also plenty of learning sites that are specific to topic areas such as photography, design, or writing. A quick Google search will provide plenty of links.
Take a class on a topic unrelated to your work—ancient philosophy, history, design, or copywriting. Pick a topic completely disconnected from your ‘day job’—with the goal of seeing the world through a different lens. You'll be helping your hustle. You’re learning something new that you’ll bring to the table—but it won't require the stress of immediate hustle.
I’m in a class now on "Learning How to Learn" that’s been invaluable as I consider my work as a life strategist and coach. It’s not a coaching class so it has no direct impact on my immediate work. But the class is teaching me concepts about learning. Concepts I know I’ll put into play in future situations and with future clients—when I’m hustling in my day job.
"Quieter" physical activities
I’m a big fan of running and getting a good sweat going. I start most of my days on the treadmill or stationary bike with the goal to push and sweat. It helps me rev up my engine so I can get my hustle going for the next 10-12 hours.
But sometimes, what I need is slower, quieter physical activity to slow my hustle in an effort to have more hustle later. I use simple stretches and elementary yoga poses at the end of the day to help quiet my mind.
Focusing on how my muscles feel during a slow stretch and holding the pose with a reminder to that pesky voice that this slower activity is ultimately putting more hustle in my tank, makes me feel better and lowers the loud voice.
This may sound crazy—but on those nights my hustle mind is racing, I’ll crawl out of bed and do a few slow, simple poses, forcing my mind to feel my muscles. More often than not, this quiet activity calms down that voice and allows me to catch some shut-eye.
Grab a book
If you’ve been following me, you know I believe in the power of books. Having intriguing and compelling books around—on topics completely unrelated to your day job—can help quiet the hustle mind.
Tell your hustle mind that these books will enrich you and develop your knowledge base and curiosity. Tell your mind you need to focus on the books so you can increase your hustle, later. Relax and give your mind the chance to understand, “Ok, she’s hustling for us—learning new things in a quieter way—so it’s ok if we shut up and let her concentrate!”
The supply of great books is endless. Make it a project—perhaps this weekend—to go hunt for some intriguing books. Create an interesting stack of books in your living space. They will provide a useful side hustle when you need to quiet that pesky voice.
Consider some fiction by Stephen King or Neil Gaiman; cookbooks with great photography by Rich Roll and Julie Piatt; art or philosophy books by Alain de Botton or John Armstrong; notebooks from Michelangelo or Leonardo; biographies by Walter Isaacson; science from Neil deGrasse Tyson or books on the brain by David Eagleman.
The supply is endless and always increasing! Indulge your curiosity and reach for the stars.
These are all activities that will improve your hustle—a little later—after you’ve gotten a little down time from that pesky hustle voice.
Heidi is a life strategist and certified coach with decades of experience in the corporate and non-profit sector. She uses the power of books to help individuals and teams reach their next chapter. To get free resources and a weekly newsletter visit: UnHingeYourself.com