Does Hustling Equate to Success?

Leanna M.W. Lui, HBSc


March 28, 2022

Thank God it's Monday? Sincerely yours, #hustle. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has given us the opportunity to reevaluate what we believe is important and valuable in our life. For some, it's the opportunity to perform meaningful work; for others, it's increased financial compensation; and, for the remaining, it may be autonomy (eg, control over their time). One example of where this mindset has manifested has been in the Great Resignation. 

The Great Resignation refers to the significant increase in resignations that was recorded in April 2021. Resignation rates tend to be higher in fields with high turnover rates (eg, healthcare, tech) as a result of increased demand and burnout. Although hustle culture has been an ongoing trend for the last few years, the pandemic has given somewhat of a reality check of the future. 

Hustle culture refers to the embracing of work as a lifestyle such that it takes over other important aspects of your life — in other words, when work-life balance becomes work-work (im)balance. It has also been aptly referred to as burnout culture or grind culture. It's a bit ironic or counterintuitive to think that stopping work means increased productivity —  but it's true. 

During my undergraduate years, I was always hustling — there wasn't a moment where I wasn't studying, doing research, training for my sport, or thinking about how I could do better and be better. It was all about working 24/7 — an illusion to think I was being productive. Now don't get me wrong, I think the time and effort I invested during those years paid off. However, it also resulted in a sense of dissatisfaction; that is, dissatisfaction that I didn't explore other potential paths, that I didn't have the courage to try new things and to be okay with making mistakes. I had extremely narrow tunnel vision because my one and only goal was to go to medical school. 

However, after entering graduate school and actually taking the time to explore other options and career pathways in health, as well as realize that nontraditional pathways are becoming more and more conventional, there is a sense of relief that "failure" is not about changing paths or making mistakes. 

The part of hustle culture that has me hung up is being able to take the time to reflect whether this is what you truly want. I still believe in the value of hard work but I also believe in the value of meaningful and efficient work while also taking the time to reflect. 

The pandemic has shaped a lot of the way we think, what we value, and how we proceed forward. Who we are and what we value is a continuing and ever-growing process, and how we choose to live our lives will play a part. 

I'm curious to hear from you, do you believe in #hustle? Are you part of the #grind culture? Or do you believe we can achieve success, greatness, and satisfaction without the hustle culture?

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About Leanna Lui
Leanna M.W. Lui, HBSc, completed an HBSc global health specialist degree at the University of Toronto, where she is now an MSc candidate. Her interests include mood disorders, health economics, public health, and applications of artificial intelligence. In her spare time, she is a fencer with the University of Toronto Varsity Fencing team and the Canadian Fencing Federation.


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