Hustle. Not everyone has it.
Hustle is that extra effort some people put forward to make things happen and get what they want. It’s what separates the successful from the “getting-by-alright,” and the exceptional from the mediocre.
Hustle is often understood as the drive, borne of sheer necessity, to improve one’s current situation, and fast.
But hustle doesn’t have to mean frantic, and it doesn’t have to be borne of desperation. Anyone can have hustle. Anytime.
The most successful people are not those with extraordinary talent, and they aren’t those who rely on the occasional grand gesture or bout of manic energy to power through superhuman feats. They’re the people who get up every day of their lives and do the work they know needs doing. They’re the ones who sit up and put on their running shoes instead of lying in bed debating whether or not to go for that run, and who sit down to write for half an hour every day instead of promising themselves that they’ll go on that immersive two-week writer’s retreat someday.
Hustle isn’t about going above and beyond. It’s about showing up and giving what you got. Every. Single. Time.
And the best part is? Anyone can be consistent. All you have to do is create a sustainable schedule and stick to it.
This starts with rigorous honesty about what you can reasonably expect of yourself, and ends with simply expecting it. Consistently.
Don’t set your alarm for 6 am if you’re going to hit the snooze button until 7. Set your alarm for 7 and then launch yourself out of bed as soon as that alarm goes off. Don’t lie to yourself and say you’ll do bookkeeping every morning if you know you’ll put it off and only get to it one day a week. Put it on the calendar for one specific day and keep that day sacred as bookkeeping day.
You don’t have to be superhuman. You just have to commit.
Create a Hustle-Only Zone
It’s 2 pm. You’ve spent all morning plugging away and feel you deserve a little break. So you turn to your go-to guilty pleasure. Maybe it’s Facebook. Maybe it’s Candy Crush. Maybe it’s personal email or texting with a friend. Whatever it is, you start doing it, and suddenly you realize that half an hour has gone by, and your head is no longer in the game.
This is the procrastination zone. And it’s where hustle goes to die.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with taking breaks. In fact, plenty of research suggests that taking regular breaks actually increases productivity. But if you’re simply shifting from one screen-based activity to another, you’re not really providing quality rest for your physical or mental faculties. Moreover, if you’re dabbling in an activity you find addictive, you’re setting yourself up for frustration and distraction.
The fix is simple: create a hustle-only zone for yourself by banning certain activities during work hours. That way you’re not telling yourself “I can’t do that,” which is nonsense of course, as you can do whatever you damn well please. Instead, you’re telling yourself, “I can do that later.” Just not right now, because right now is hustle time.
“But what am I gonna do on all those breaks I’m supposed to be taking?”
Great question. The most effective breaks are those that take you away from your screen and offer a genuine disruption to your typical mental patterns. For example, taking a short walk, having a conversation with a co-worker, striking a yoga pose or even taking a quick catnap. Here’s a great list of ideas from which you can create your own list of hustle-friendly break activities.
The important thing, though, is to mix it up. Try new things. Give your brain and body a genuine refresh instead of just switching from one habitual activity to another.
Surround yourself with Hustlers
It may or may not be true that you actually become the average of the five people you spend the most time with, but there’s no question that the people you are closest to have a remarkable impact on you and how you end up spending your time and energy.
As Tim Ferriss put it:
By the same token, do not underestimate the positive effect of surrounding yourself with people who have hustle and aren’t afraid to use it.
Simply making the effort to spend more time with productive and positive people will inevitably impact the way you live your own life. But if you want to take it a step further (and I know you do, or you wouldn’t be spending your precious time reading this), find yourself an accountability buddy.
Having an accountability buddy with whom you check in regularly is the very best way to ensure that you will get results. It’s easy enough to rationalize your way out of doing something when it’s just you. But you’re far less likely to flake out when someone else is involved.
If you’re a competitive sort, try turning it into a contest or a race. If you’re more empathic, set things up so that you will be letting your buddy down in some tangible way if you don’t come through (i.e. you only get the reward if you *both* do the work). If your reputation is important to you, make your goals very public and invite lots of people to keep you accountable.
Whatever you do, don’t keep your goal to yourself or chances are you simply won’t make it.
Keep learning and teaching
If you have hustle, then you’re always learning. You can’t help it; it comes with the territory.
And the best way to solidify those learnings is to teach them to someone else. Never miss an opportunity to share an insight, coach a struggling friend, or serve as a mentor to someone less experienced.
Or hey, you could always write a blog.
Live bravely, work deliberately, and eat good chocolate.