Hard Work Trumps Hustle

It's the end of the day. You step back from your work and take a few minutes to evaluate. You ask yourself a few questions:

  • What am I thinking about?
  • What do I feel about those things?
  • What do I need? 
  • What's my next step?

Perhaps you even jot down short bullets, phrases or sentences to capture your responses. The day is done and you get to move forward into the next item on your calendar. Maybe you're headed to dinner with a friend or your family. Maybe you've scheduled introvert time. Maybe you're on your way to the gym or out on a run. Or maybe, you've noticed that you're not quite done based on your response to the final question. You may need to stick around a little while longer to put something in order or maybe you need to reconfigure your evening to ensure you have what you need. Whatever the case, good. Do it. 

When you're done, let it go. Move on with your plans (or the updated version of those plans). Let yourself rest into your decision.

Tomorrow, do the same thing at the start of your day. Perhaps part of your "What's my next step?" from the night before included a list of where you're beginning today. But maybe you wake up today and that list needs to be tossed out. Maybe another priority came up. Maybe the way you were thinking of approaching the to-do item isn't going to work for you today. Whatever the case, embrace the reality and move forward. There's work to be accomplished and you're going to do great. Even if "the work to be accomplished" means that your decision today involves taking the day off. 

Now, I recognize that this may sound crazy to some. After all, there are real pressures and deadlines and people we are dealing with each and every day. But, each and every day we must make decisions to choose in or out.

I believe that the way we make these decisions will lead us into a mindset of rest or into a mindset of hustle. The reality is, some days we just have to keep on going. There is no opportunity to stop because of what we're facing. BUT, if we find ourselves in that place on a particular day, we get to choose into the reality. We get to say, "This must get done right now. I'm tired or [fill in the blank on what I'm experiencing], but I will do this..." I can rest into my reality by taking responsibility for it and work hard to complete whatever is before me.

So often hard work involves making hard choices. Some days, working hard means I stay with it. Some days, working hard means I let it go because I'm working hard to stay in a healthy life rhythm and my vocational work isn't everything. Staying in tune with our reality and with ourselves (that self-awareness piece) frees us to embrace what is and move forward. It all comes back to our "yes" and our "no." And I'll tell you what, we'll know pretty quickly if it was a good "yes" or a good "no" because we'll experience the fruit of it in our lives.

The thing is, hard work and rest go together. We can rest well as we work hard because we are attentive to where we're at physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Noticing where we're at and making decisions from there frees us to get what really needs to be done, done. And, when we know that we've done what needs to be done, we can call it a day and truly, genuinely REST. 

And though I used the examples of day-end and day-beginning as a possible approach to addressing our needs and our goals, we can wrap up individual pieces of our day, one at a time, and find rest between one moment and the next. It's a rhythm, after all. Rhythms are nice...

Per our earlier dialogue on "hustle" I really do understand that some people don't live "the hustle" as a mindset, but experience hustle as simple activities in their day-to-day lives that move them ahead. I appreciate these perspectives and postures. So, when I read the following, I only think of the current cultural mindset which tells us:

"Good things come to those who hustle."--Chuck Noll

"My hustle is nonstop. I never stop hustling."--Young Jeezy

"I've got a dream that's worth more than my sleep." --Unknown

"I'd rather hustle 24/7 than slave 9-5."--Unknown

This get-ahead mentality requires every part of us, all of the time. And this is the very reason I think that hard work trumps hustle...

Hard work has an end point while hustle does not. Hard work says, "I'm giving my attention and my energy to this thing that's in front of me. I'm going to do it with excellence. And, when I'm finished, I am done." Rest comes when we complete our work. We lay it down and move into a place where we have margin, once again. It's in this place of rest when we recover from our labor. As we recover by investing in things that bring us life (sleep, hobbies, spending time with life-giving people, etc), we create space for reflection, inspiration and creativity. 

I've shared recently about my own process in establishing healthy rhythms. Just weeks ago, I was in another spot where I felt exhausted. I remember looking at my to-do list one day and in the midst of noticing all I needed to accomplish, I also recognized how tired I was. Instead of forcing myself into the work, I chose to take a nap. A handful of minutes passed as I rested quietly. I hoped sleep would come, but instead I had a flurry (and when I say flurry, I mean FLURRY) of fresh ideas about upcoming topics for the blog. I was almost annoyed because each time I'd reach for my phone (which was on silent, btw) to record a new thought and replace it back on the side table, another would come. 

I remember saying aloud, "You've GOT to be kidding me... I'm so tired and now, all of this inspiration!!..." I laughed. It was ridiculous and wonderful all wrapped into one. I was reminded that day how it's in quietness, and in rest, that we find our strength. It was such a beautiful moment and a testament to this truth that when we're genuinely willing to engage what is in our moments, good fruit will come. 

And, you better believe it that when that "nap" was complete, I got back to work. I focused and moved forward. Until, of course, I was done.


  • What is the hard work that you need to choose into today?
  • Will you allow yourself to rest when you are done?
  • Or maybe, will you allow yourself to rest today so that you can work hard when your rest is done?

I hope so. Let me know how it goes, won't you? I'd love to hear.