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We all face internal and external pressures to overwork. But to be fulfilled in your life and career, you need to push back against those forces.
If you buy into that thinking, even just a tiny bit, you won’t be able to resist triggers, like others telling you about their overworking. This social pressure will activate your anxiety, with all the attendant emotional and physical reactions.
You need to radically reject the idea that such behavior is required or even beneficial.
It’s important to specifically identify your values. Sure, most of us can agree that things like equality, justice, efficiency, generosity, bravery, autonomy, challenge, cooperation, adventure are good. However, we differ in our priorities — our most important values — and what makes us feel most like our lives and careers are meaningful and on track
The behaviors and language associated with hustle culture don’t typically lead to great accomplishments. What does is the pursuit of deeper, more personal goals like knowing and understanding important phenomena, solving complex problems, or making a positive impact in society.
Simply look inside and outside your professional niche. Who inspires you by doing well without overwork, hustle, or burning themselves out? What are their approaches? Can you adapt any of them to fit your values, goals, personality, and circumstances?
Here’s a very basic law of psychology: When behaviors are reinforced, they increase. When you ignore them, you might see an “extinction burst” — a short-term rise in the problematic behaviors — but then they will stop.
If your boss is the one pressing you to overwork, that’s one of the most basic signs of an abusive work culture. Make your boundaries clear, and, if the behaviors don’t stop, consider roles on different teams or in different organizations with managers who have more realistic expectations.
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