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You can spot people who’ve been swallowed up by the toxic culture of rise and grind all around you. Those caught up in what’s also known as hustle culture check their email constantly on the train into the city or worse, when they’re driving. You see them at the gym, on the ellipticals or bikes, smartphone in hand, scrolling through documents, checking social media, reading more emails and sending work-related texts.
People who are intent on grinding to success sleep with their device beside their pillow and wake up throughout the night to check their email by the blue light of their smartphone. The moment their feet hit the floor, they’re already checking their inbox, and then they shove half a bagel into their mouth, take a gulp of coffee and race out the door. They pride themselves on working 80-100 hours a week.
Rise and Grind Cultural Heroes
Rise and grind even has its own cultural heroes. Elon Musk, Time magazine’s Man of the Year in 2020, is famous for saying, “No one changes the world on 40 hours a week.” Then there’s former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who told the media in 2016 that she worked 130 hours a week. That’s approximately 19 hours a day, including weekends.
Many of these cultural icons create the psychological justifications for this work lifestyle. In 2018, at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, philosopher Alain de Botton supported rise and grind culture when he commented, “There is a real relationship between the capacity to endure suffering and the capacity to do great things.”
The message is simple. There’s only one way to get to the top and meet your most important professional goals: work, work, work. And then work some more … even if you suffer as a result.
Those who follow the lifestyle also act as if this is their best life — as if they love every minute of work and never acknowledge any pain or suffering.
A Lifestyle Forged by 21st-Century Technology
Rise and grind culture owes its hard lifestyle to the technology of the 21st century. Until the very late 20th century, when work was over for the day, employees would go home to their families, enjoy meals, perhaps visit friends or see a movie. But with the rise of the internet and then the smartphone, it became possible for employers to push the workday well past the old eight-hour time limit.
This is especially true for workers in the post-baby boomer generations, who’ve lived with this technology their entire lives. They’ve always known the internet, and many have never had a moment without social media. The temptation to be online all day is strong, and when combined with a hustler mindset, it creates a work lifestyle that can be dangerous to an individual’s physical and mental health.
However, not everyone thinks rise and grind culture is a good thing. David Heinemeier, the founder of Basecamp, pointed out to the New York Times that “The vast majority of people beating the drums of hustle-mania are not the people doing the actual work. They’re the managers, financiers and owners.”
A recent survey showed that many of these rise and grind workers are starting to feel the effects. According to the survey, three out of five employees who work 50 to 59 hours a week feel overworked. That number rises to 75% for employees who work more than 60 hours a week.
So what are the consequences of a rise and grind lifestyle?
- A limited social life, or no social life at all
- Anxiety, depression and problems sleeping
- Relationship issues
- Increased illness — a genuine concern in this pandemic era
- Disconnection from surroundings from being on autopilot all the time
- Stress — lots and lots of stress
Stress is a killer. It’s one of the leading causes of heart attacks and many other illnesses. It reduces sleep, weakens your immune system and can lead to severe headaches. Stress can reduce productivity, and if it becomes too overwhelming, it can cause a complete mental collapse.
Strategies to Break the Rise and Grind Cycle
So what are your best strategies to avoid falling into a toxic rise and grind lifestyle?
- Pay attention to the way you’re living life: Be aware of the number of hours you work a week and whether you have a social life. Are you feeling exhausted and depleted all the time? These are sure signs you’ve adopted a rise and grind lifestyle.
- Determine what’s essential in your life: Get out a piece of paper and a pen and write down your goals, whether personal or professional. Ask yourself: Is the rise and grind lifestyle helping you accomplish them, or is it only creating the façade of helping you reach them?
- Redefine how you spend each day: Make sure you eat a good breakfast, and make time for lunch. Tell yourself you’ll work until six or seven and then stop. Put your smartphone down, and don’t look at it for the rest of the evening. Don’t forget to exercise, even if it’s only to go for a walk, and spend time with friends or family.
- Let yourself daydream: You did it frequently in high school and college, and it’s okay to do it at work as well. Wander over to the window and look out over the city or community where you live. Taking a break from work can refresh your mind, and you’ll feel less exhausted.
- Try a time management tool: There are a number of time management tools and techniques that are proven to help people organize their workdays and allow themselves some breathing room. Using such a tool can help you prioritize tasks, get work done more efficiently and schedule breaks so you don’t get overwhelmed.
Know When to Seek Professional Help
If you’re caught in a rise and grind cycle and the stress is becoming overwhelming, it’s time to reach out for professional help. Our counselors are available 24/7 to help you address the stress and break free from the rise and grind lifestyle. You can reach us at (833) 596-3502.