Michael Glover is a Mindset & Performance Coach and a regular writer for Goalcast.
In a recent article, I talked about creating habits without using willpower.
Although I stand by everything I said in the article, I wanted to follow that up by clearing up a few things. More specifically, clearing up a few things around what to do when things get tough.
It seems a takeaway some people got from the article was that in order to make something a habit, it should feel relatively easy all the time. That we should quit if things get tough because it means it’s not the correct path for us. And effectively just ride off into the sunset on a unicorn to live a life where everything we do is always filled with joy and excitement.
Of course, this wasn’t my intention. I’m fully aware of the need to ‘work hard’ and take action repeatedly in order to achieve any goal in life.
The Glorification of Hustle
But ‘work hard’ is, when you sit back and think about it, a very generic term. What does it actually mean?
I feel like I’m now exposed to a magnitude of motivational or educational posts, videos, articles, memes, Instagram pics and all sorts of stuff every single day. And there’s a large core contingent in there that glorifies this whole ‘hustle culture’ to those of us who want to achieve things and continually better our lives.
Not winning? Work harder. Not achieving? Hustle more.
As a young, impressionable person desperately seeking success, what I took from this was that achievement is always a hard grind. That it wasn’t fun and you had to struggle your way there.
So I felt like I always needed to be doing more and more. And if I wasn’t doing more, then I felt guilty. Because, according to the ‘social media people’, successful people just ‘kept on hustling’.
Of course, the premise is absolutely spot on. As I said earlier, if you want to achieve something in any area of life, we need to go out there and take big action.
But having this connotation of struggle and grind that comes along with ‘the hustle’ means this is exactly what we attract into our lives. And who wants to live a life full of struggle and grind?
So I suppose what I’m suggesting is, yes, it’s a good thing to adopt an action taking, ‘hustle’ mentality. But not to simply do it blindly in a scatter gun approach because some YouTube video or Instagram post said about the virtues of working harder and harder and harder.
Why don’t we use a more ‘calculated hustle’? A hustle that’s more about simply working out where the destination is and following the path of least resistance to get there. Find what works for you and trust in the process without feeling like you have to be always doing something for fear of missing out.
Don’t get me wrong, there are always going to be times when there are challenges and obstacles in the road. And sometimes it’s necessary to just identify them and take them on. All I’m saying is that we can take on the ‘hard things’ without continually needing to make life itself so hard.
Even when we’re taking the road of ‘least resistance’ there still will be resistance at times. There still will be times when it gets hard and tough and we want to quit.
This is where discipline comes into play, not willpower. Becoming clear on our own plan to get to where we want to go and disciplining ourselves to, effectively, follow through on what we said we would do.
And this comes as a theme throughout our entire lives. We’re not just hanging onto willpower, the particular plan to build a bigger business, improve our physical health or achieve whatever other goal we might have. Rather, we’re stepping into the entire identity of being a ‘disciplined person’.
It’s a subtle, yet powerful difference. Because how we do one thing is how we do everything.
Being disciplined in our approach and starting to follow through in all areas, even the seemingly little ones like not sleeping through our alarm or sticking to a daily meditation practice can have carry-on effects into all other areas of our lives.
So, yes, as I said in my previous article, it’s the key to discovering your own path that you’re most likely to enjoy and want to do. But once you’re clear on exactly what that path entails, it’s crucial to ‘build your discipline muscle’ by becoming the person who follows through on what they say they’ll do in all areas of life.