To Hustle or Not to Hustle, That is the Question

You know it’s a good podcast episode when you scramble to hit pause and pull out your Notes app to jot down an idea.

So here’s one I jotted down a little while back:

It takes hustle to reach 6 figures.

It takes strategy to reach multiple 6 figures.

It takes mindset to reach 7 figures.

Our careers go through many phases of intensity. From needing that blast-off momentum in the beginning and transition phases, to the slower yet more calculated cruising speeds that follow.

Last year, my calendar was a well-oiled machine. Frankly, it had to be if I wanted to balance my various projects. The first two hours of the day were dedicated to writing, then at 9am I signed into Slack and got my Shopify day started, and during lunch and early evenings I was working on my side hustle. It wasn’t sustainable, but it was never intentioned to be sustainable.

I was gearing up for a change, even if I didn’t know what that change was going to be, and that meant stepping on the gas pedal.

Now, in my first two weeks of self-employment, it’s time I start evolving my definition of productivity. No longer benchmarked around how much time I dedicate to the hustle, but more around how much bang for my buck I can get out of a single hour.

To help, I ordered Cal Newport’s book, Deep Work. I also shortened my working hours—from 8am to 1pm—to give myself a constraint that would (hopefully) lead to a deeper state of flow. Every morning at 8am this week, I’ve placed my phone on the other side of the room, closed out all my online shopping tabs, and focused on a single mission of getting shit done for the next 4-5hours. The idea is double sided: get more out of the hours I do work, and create free space in the afternoons for learning, growing, thinking, and whatever else this “strategy phase” of my career needs.

I’m still navigating this mindset shift, so if you have mastered it already—please share your secrets!

The second realization I had was that…

I don’t know (or maybe forgot?) how to set non-financial or non-metric goals.

I didn’t leave Shopify to just turn around and add more capitalistic pursuits to my life. I left to create space for my creativity. But I also know myself well, and I know that if I don’t have a goal to work towards, I get bored quickly.

Since the purpose of my writing is not about monetizing it or growing a big social media following, then what can my enneagram 3 brain work towards instead?

I brought this question to my mastermind group this week: how does one set a goal that isn’t money or metric related?

Here’s the guidance I got:

To make honing my craft the goal. 

(Really? That can be a goal? Apparently so!)

So that’s how I’m spending my “free” time this month.

First, I’ll be dusting off a few acclaimed books on writing that I ordered two whole years ago and still haven’t read.

And second, I’ll be studying my own writing preferences to learn what gets me in the best headspace for it. Every writer has their own system, from starting at the same time each morning, to lighting candles, to listening to a specific playlist.

Both of these goals I’ve written on a small piece of paper, pinned to my new vision board beside my desk. It’s filled with inspiring images of tranquil flower gardens, European cities, Parisian cafes, and—as Miguel pointed out—many, many croissants. (Guilty as charged!)

I’ve unsubscribed from the idea of growth for the sake of growth. I don’t want to strive for a goal where my worth is dependent on how many replies I get to each newsletter. I want my goals to be something intrinsic that I can work towards, regardless of whether one person reads my work or one million.

(But if you do respond to my newsletters, just know that my fragile human heart is oh-so much happier that day. Hah!) 

By the way, if you’re curious about the podcast episode I was listening to, it’s episode 134. How to Break the $10k/mo Ceiling in Your Business from The Courtney Sanders Podcast.

Fun fact, this episode was another little breadcrumb in my decision to leave Shopify. As someone who is fanatically obsessed with building a strong mindset, I remember listening to this episode and thinking that working at a company will never give me the intense growth challenges required to develop a truly superhuman mind.

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