It’s 7:00 pm and I finish for the day, closing my laptop and sliding it to one side. I shut my eyes, take a deep breath, hold it in my chest for a few seconds and feel the chaos subside. My heartbeat slows. My mind begins to ease. My shoulders sink into my body, my skin tingling.
Another day of hard work, doing worthy tasks, and putting forth my best self.
I know I’ve done good. I know I’ve made a lot of progress of late. I know, if I compare who I am and where I am and what I’m doing today to the person I was this time last year, I’ve come a long way.
I have much to be grateful for and proud of.
And for a few seconds, I feel this; I allow myself to feel it.
But then a thought. It seems to change my direction in an instant. Less a thought and more of a compulsion. My hand is in my pocket, pulling out my phone before I’m conscious of the fact. It’s aglow, staring back at me, the hint of my reflection behind the various icons I’m far too familiar with.
My finger swipes, taps, slides to the left.
There I am, inside once more, scrolling… scrolling… scrolling.
I do not know.
The peace ceases and that sense of pride melts back within me as I focus on beautiful bodies each with a more beautiful body than mine. I see that guy I follow whose smile always seems so pristine. There’s that girl who owns the car I want to own, and the endless other stories that only combine to tell me one thing… their story is better than mine.
They have more than I do.
They are worthy, and I am not.
An Unhealthy Obsession with Comparison
As you read those words, how do you feel? Can you relate at all, even if you don’t want to? If you are honest with yourself, do you nod in agreement and say, “yep, I do that.”
If you can, don’t feel bad.
It just makes you a member of today’s hyper-connected world.
It’s somewhat natural for us humans to compare ourselves to another. We see what they have and begin to consider what our life would be like if we had it. Maybe that “thing” would be the one thing we need to finally feel complete. Maybe a different partner, a different job, a different house in a different location… maybe, just maybe that could be the source of our happiness.
The pursuit could end, and we could finally sit back and enjoy what we have.
We know this is silly, of course. Yet we’re so scared of feeling scared that it’s easier to cling to such silly things. They allow us to escape a little. To free our mind. To free ourselves.
And I imagine we’ve always done this, from way back when, during a period we foraged and hunted, through to more modern times when industry took over, all the way until today where we can spy a beady eye on whoever we wish.
That temptation has always been there.
That worry that we are not enough… it has always been there.
Yet today, we face a tougher task than arguably any other generation before us.
It happens to be the source of our greatest opportunity…
Yet also the place where realities bend into madness.
Social Media Madness
Today, we get to enjoy greater opportunities than ever before. Travel back in time a mere twenty years and owning your own business was a dream that remained that way for many. You had to save for years, and if you managed to do just that you would often get one shot at being your own boss.
It would work or it would not work.
There was no room for indecision.
You had to be all in or not.
Today, almost any of us can wake up one morning and decide to take destiny into our own hands. You can start a YouTube Channel, be a coach for a little while, become a freelancer, create a course, write a book, sell yourself on social media, or the many other opportunities that most of us have access to.
It’s an amazing time, and when you spend a little of this time thinking about how amazing all this is… well, it’s enough to make your head spin. But, as with all powerful entities, there are shadows that lurk in the corners.
Only, these shadows don’t lurk in the corners, rather have spread and taken over the entire room.
The opportunities are there, there is no doubt.
But what about the downside to all this…
What impact does it have on us as people?
We’re susceptible to comparing ourselves and our lives to one another, remember… we are often the ones that choose to pack our bags with as much baggage as possible and heavy it on our poor shoulders.
We are our greatest critic, the person that wishes to be loved but refuses to love.
We want “something” to rid the pain and clear our minds, yet we prefer to distract ourselves with something a little less intense. So we pick up a phone, swipe it, tap, slide to the left…. and there you are once more, inside, scrolling… scrolling… scrolling.
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We Are All Part of “This” Hustle
When you hear the word “hustle” your mind likely gravitates toward someone like Gary V who seems to work all day, or maybe someone you follow online who glorifies late-nighters, working harder than everyone else, and burning the midnight oil.
That is a toxic side of the “hustle”, there is no doubt.
But it isn’t necessarily the “hustle” you and I are a part of.
That’s the easy aspect of the hustle to escape from because not escaping leads to burnout and a trip to the hospital. So, you either choose to escape it or wait until it knocks on your day.
The harder aspect of “the hustle” to escape from is the one most of us need to, and, I’m afraid to say, are largely unaware of. It’s that nagging voice that refuses to settle. It’s the thought of work late at night, unable to focus on the people in front of you, maybe the ones you love the most, simply because your mind is elsewhere.
It’s the scrolling through images and videos, peeking into an edited version of someone else’s life, and allowing it to make you feel bad about your own because you don’t have what they do; they seem happier than you are; they look better, tell you that they feel better, say that you could feel and look like them if only you followed their proven formula, process, system, etc…
Yet you don’t get to see the “real” them.
You don’t get to peek behind their curtain.
You see what they want you to see.
They show you the good but rarely offer you their own chaos.
But rest assured, they, like you, feel unworthy and inadequate.
They, like you, are sat there comparing themselves to someone else.
There are few people who are not part of this hustle.
Some have escaped, and some of those you follow are genuine.
Yet most of them are, not because they’re bad people, but rather they’re unaware of it just like you.
The Answer To This Problem?
There is no easy answer to any of this. We are people, and we do and act as people do.
We live in this world, and although it will continue to evolve, it is what it is.
The internet isn’t going anywhere. Social media isn’t a fad. This hyper-connected existence we exist in won’t vanish into thin air. This is our world, and it’s a damn tough one to adapt to. Yet it’s important we try because for all the opportunities it provides us with, it steals so much in return.
Not always in an obvious way like those entrepreneurs who burn out due to their late-nighters…
But rather, the nagging voices that remain inside us, always talking us down; comparing us to another.
Is it any wonder our mental well-being feels more fragile than ever?
Is it any wonder the impact all this is having on our youth… tomorrow’s leaders?
When I talk about the anti-hustle and fighting back, this is what I mean and this is why it drives me.
This is not about work hard or work smart, and it is not about how many hours you put in.
This is not about commitment, perseverance, entrepreneurial spirit, or anything else…
This is about how fragile we are as a species, and the dangers we all face each day.
Every time you log in. Every time you pick up your phone. Every time you sit down and are met with the sound of silence. Every time you have a chance to dive within and find out what’s really going on, but run away because you’re terrified of what’s really going on.
This is the real hustle we’re all at the mercy of.
A Life Beyond The Hustle
You get to choose the life you lead. You don’t get to control much of what happens in that life, but it always remains your life. That is precious, and we should never lose sight of this.
And it’s this that stands at the heart of those all-important next steps.
If you want to escape the hustle, you need to be more conscious of it. To take charge when you can, proactively filling your day (and give yourself permission) to spend time on yourself; time listening to yourself… Yet you also need to react to those times when you do pick up the phone after a long day of work, knowing you’ve done well but allowing your mind to wander.
Stop it. Halt it in its tracks. Reaffirm and remind yourself that you are enough… that you are doing okay.
Above all… you need to question the life you’re leading.
The business you are building.
The goals you are pursuing.
This lies at the heart of my latest book, ‘Beyond The Pale’. It follows Ferdinand, a man who seems to have it all. A guy, who, to everyone else is the guy everyone else aspires to be. He has the life they wish to lead, and he convinced himself that he was leading the life he always wanted to lead.
Until one day he realized he wasn’t, which is when his real journey began…
I hope Ferdinand inspires you to look at your own tale and to question whether you too need to go beyond the pale. If you do, you may like to join a free community I help to run called the Anti-Hustle Academy. If you’ve read this far, you’ll know exactly what this community is all about.
As well as who it is for.