How toxic hustle culture is gradually KILLING you

Forcing yourself to take action may be the fastest way to bring yourself down.


Ivana Pazek

2 years ago | 3 min read

Recently, I've been inspired by Sorelle Amore's YT talk of a similar name. [Ref1]

In this talk, she mentions many downsides to hustling. 

Is there a rationale behind the hate? Here is our perspective.

What exactly is hustling, again?

If you've ever been a "side hustler" or a "hustler" (full stop!), you're probably familiar with the term "hustling."


If you've been living under a rock, the dictionary definition is to "act quickly, energetically, and aggressively, particularly in business."

In short, hustling for many entails overworking in the hopes of achieving one's goals.

Hustling is further encouraged by the mentality of 

  • "only the strong survive (succeed)," 
  • "never give up,"
  • “If not me, then someone else will,”

So, worst-case scenario: you'll be falling behind.

For some, this could be as dramatic as dying, but is there something (even more) sinister on the other side?

Uploaded by toine on Unsplash

Full speed, no breaks—so what?

Well… The title alone doesn't sound right, does it?

And, at the same time, this particular method is what some believe to be the most effective at helping us achieve our goals.

I've discussed the consequences of not pausing in my Stop with Ivana podcast. Aside from the disadvantages, we discussed how to break free from this growth-stifling mindset.

Overworking has several detrimental effects that become more obvious over time. 

Hence, for hustling, the same applies.

So… You can be an independent business person and view yourself as "your boss." But how different is that boss from the nasty one you worked for from 9 to 5?

Let’s take a look.

Overdoing it has a negative impact

Let’s list some of the degrading effects of hustling.

Reason 1: Identifying with what you “do” instead of who you “are”

This is a big one.

What it means is an addiction to doing. 

It is the doing that gives you a sense of self.

Why is that so bad?

Well, one reason J. Meyer beautifully describes in his book about pursuing your dreams [Ref3]:

“To dream, you need to know what you want. To know what you want, you need to know who you are.” J. Meyer

And if your sense of self is solely based on your activities and their outcomes, you're setting yourself up for an unfulfilling journey.

In short: 

NO deriving the goals from the sense of who you are 

 -> NO unique goals 

 -> spending your life chasing goals that are not uniquely yours 

 -> feelings of emptiness, which are particularly obvious when no action is taken...

Uploaded by Aziz on Unsplash

Reason 2: A lack of balance results in toxicity.

Another reason is that when action is not balanced by inaction, it becomes toxic.

When I talk about toxic work settings, one of the most common "cues" is "lack of space."

This is often done by toxic bosses who scrutinize your every move. However, it can also be done by an "inner toxic" exhibited by one's own automatic (unconscious) thoughts.

Reason 3: Loss of creativity

One important consequence of “self-loss” is a loss of creativity. 

If you "need" to do something, it can motivate you to do more; yet, research suggests that overdoing it can cost you your spark. If we adjust our conditions, a small spark can always bring more flame. However, once that spark is gone, it may take a long time and effort to rekindle it, if at all.

Other reasons: health issues, etc.

There are many other downsides to working without a break. 

Some of the more serious ones concern your emotional, physical, and mental health. The problem with these is that we can only address them if we give ourselves a break, which in these circumstances means we are forced to take it.

Because health issues accumulate over time, they are frequently undetected until they "sneak up on you." As a result, there is a risk that the problem will grow larger than you anticipated.

(More information about other downsides to hustling can be found in the aforementioned speech. [Ref1])

What are your thoughts on the hustling culture? Is it the "new and improved," or a "new toxic"?

About the author

Ivana Pazek helps organizations, as well as individuals in healing from the toxic culture and establishing more positive and balanced ways of working.Ivana's latest book on toxic work environments:The Wolves in Red Hoods: Understand and Deal with the Creators of a Toxic Work Environment.


Created by

Ivana Pazek

Ivana assists leaders who have been harmed by unhealthy work environments in healing and advancing in their careers. For over ten years, Ivana worked in large corporations and wrote three self-help and career books. If you'd like to chat, you can schedule a short call on Tealfeed profile.







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