You may have heard me say that being an entrepreneur can be filled with spiritual growth. I still believe this 100%. I have never expanded my comfort zone, dug deep with my limiting beliefs, learned to cultivate deep compassion for myself, and committed to serving others so much that I was willing to do scary shit as I have when being an entrepreneur.
Sure, my work in refugee camps in war zones and other challenging humanitarian environments helped me to act on compassion for others – but it was almost like that was part of my nature.
The growth I’ve had to undergo to run a business? Super NOT my natural state of being. Podcasts and social media and webinars…totally not my default way of being.
The things I have to do for entrepreneurship make me super uncomfortable all the time. More uncomfortable than climbing a peak on a 30 -day expedition without a shower. For realz.
One of the most important lessons I learned in business over the past year was how to stop hustling toward my goals. You know – the frantic scrambling and staying up all night during a launch and working on weekend and evenings to meet that quarterly goal and…ALL of that craziness.
For years I was taught that was how it was supposed to be. You had to buck up and deal. And I did. I’m good at powering through hard shit. But it almost led to me giving up. Even though I wanted to share my gifts with people so badly, I didn’t want to do it at a cost to my family and my health.
I started making this shift when I was working with Susan Hyatt, who I totally did not believe when she said the more fun you have the more money you make. But she was right.
In this episode, I want to share a model for how to stop the hustle cycle – which one of my other business coaches – Melanie Childers – taught me. It helped me make a lot of sense about why this actually works. But for you, I want to apply it outside of entrepreneurship and to show you how this can work for personal growth and your spiritual practice.
Now I know the phrase “hustle cycle” may be associated a lot with business and entrepreneurship or career, but trust me, we can hustle towards personal growth goals: a certain meditative state, or to have more patience, or less of a temper, or more self-compassion.
Or to attain enlightenment in this lifetime! (No pressure;)
I see attachment to the outcomes a lot with my clients. And it makes sense, right? Like, if you want to achieve your goal, being super attached seems like it will help motivate you.
But the ironic thing is the more attached we are, the less likely we are to take effective action towards our goals.
This is because when we feel that pressure, we enter into a stress cycle (fight, flight, freeze, or fawn) whenever we hit a speed bump… and then we spiral, and we enter the Hustle Cycle.
This is especially true when we set a big goal because your brain sees the goal is possible once you’ve set it, and its job is to try to stop you and keep you safe…so it tries to stop you. After all, we evolved to be motivated to avoid pain, seek please, and do what’s easy. And big goals are none of the above! Even spiritual or personal growth ones.
So, what happens during those stress responses?
Folks who tend to freeze overthink everything (looping thoughts in the brain, or trying to consume more info instead ot take action).
Those of us who flee feel the pressure and look for ways to avoid it (overdrinking, over-Netflixing, get distracted by social media, eat, spend money…buffering.)
Those who tend to fight find ways to rebel against what needs to be done or take on all the burden and overwork. This is one of my defaults.
Lots of rebellion.
Those who tend to fawn lean towards people-pleasing.to avoid disappointing anyone or in attempts to avoid criticism or prove worthiness or enoughness.
No matter your stress response, we circle back around to self-doubts. We tell stories to ourselves that we aren’t enough,
THEN we get hella tired and burned out because this is so exhausting and we feel overwhelmed by it all, which feeds our self doubt.
The cycle repeats itself.
So how can you break the Hustle Cycle?
Here’s where Melanie helped me see why having more fun works: it helps us get out of the stress cycle. But there are a few steps to go through first.
One of the first things to do is to notice you’re in the hustle cycle. Hello mindfulness! Awareness. Mindfuless of thoughts, feelings, body. How are you feeling? How are you acting/What are you doing? Can you identify where are you in the cycle?
Just like we talked about identifying your early signs for when you’re not aligned (irritability, impatience, more tearful, more critical) – we want to identify our Hustle red flag warning signs.
Hustling behaviors – and when you’re hustling you’re not aligned – might look like consuming instead of creating (I need more courses, more podcasts, more degrees, more dharma talks! More advice!). Maybe we take reactive action instead of intentional action. We might have either/or thinking – I either achieve this goal or I’m screwed/not worthy. It can look like never resting, not unplugging. Feeling like you always have to be ON. Perfectionism. Taking on all the responsibility. Feeling out of control
Then, once we’re aware we’re hooked by the pressure and the shame and/or self doubt – we can use some other tools, like getting out of our heads and our stories and back into our body (I give lots of tips on this in the pod, like the 5-senses meditation). This takes us out of the stress cycle, and helps us take more effective action that feels good instead of hustle. So does self-compassion and being more kind to ourselves.
But listen, this next part is golden. If I can give you one single thing to take away from this, it’s this: To break that hustle cycle, you need to remove the pressure, which requires something rather counterintuitive: Detaching from the Goal.
I remember when Melanie gave us a challenge awhile back: make back what you invested in the program in the first month. Then she told us to release the goal and not worry about it.
Whaaat? I’m like… but isn’t a challenge inherently something to be attached to?
But she taught us that there are other ways to face that challenge without feeling that degree of pressure and forming an attachment to having to meet the goal. And that we’d be way more successful if we detached from it in this way.
I learned I could keep going and keep taking action and remain open to the whatever result I created because I’d learn from it – because I removed the pressure and was able to stay out of the stress cycle for more of the time.
Remember: when we’re in the stress cycle we are not taking effective action. When we release attachment to the goal, we remove the pressure and can take more effective action since we are out of the stress cycle.
This isn’t easy work. We have to feel safe to risk failing. Without this, the pressure is too strong, and the stress cycle is hard to avoid or to exit. This is where we can ask: “What am I making meeting – or not meeting – this goal mean about who I am?” Usually it’s not a safe place when we’re having those thoughts, and we have a lot of judgment about if we don’t meet it and a lot of relying on what other people think about us if we do achieve it.
We can remind ourselves we are more than our goal(s). We are more than our achievements. We are 100% valuable and lovable and worthy as we are. Right now. We are safe, right now. The Universe doesn’t send us anything we can’t handle.
So, when it comes to a goal you’ve set for yourself – a certain mindset you want to embody more, progress to a certain stage on your spiritual path, a health goal, a financial or career goal… think about if you are in the hustle cycle and where you’re at in it.
Then, have an exit plan. Release attachment to the goal, which will release the pressure and get you out of the stress cycle. Instead, make being fully present in the process your goal, the journey the goal. Remind yourself you are safe – no matter what comes of this goal. And…think about how can you make this goal more FUN.
In this Episode you will learn:
// The most important thing to do to break the Hustle Cycle
// Why attachment to outcomes actually hinders our ability to achieve our goald
// The 5 parts of the Hustle Cycle
// How the stress response we feel when hustling keeps us stuck
// How to create an exit plan for the Hustle Cycle
// The difference between hustling and more sustainable ways of being with our goals
// Episode 62: Commitment and How to Take Massive Action
// Episode 66: How to Fail Perfectly
// Learn more about Melanie Childers here
// If you’re new to the squad, grab the Rebel Buddhist Toolkit I created at RebelBuddhist.com. It has all you need to start creating a life of more freedom, adventure, and purpose. You’ll also get access to the Rebel Buddhist FB group, and tune in every Wednesday at 11:30am PST as I go live.
// Want to dive into this work on a deeper level? To study it and practice it together? Check out Freedom School – the community for ALL things related to freedom, inside and out.
It’s also where you can get individual help applying the concepts to your own life. It’s where you can learn new coaching tools not shared on the podcast that will blow your mind even more, and it’s where you can connect over all things freedom with other freedom junkies just like you and me. It’s my favorite place on earth and it will change your life, I guarantee it. Come join us at JoinFreedomSchool.com. I can’t wait to see you there.