In my 20s, I’ve consumed a lot of “hustle culture” media. You know the type: it centers around messages like “achieve success at any cost”, “sleep when you’re dead” and “get rich or die trying”. When you’re young and the world is your oyster, these messages fire you up to get off your ass and make something of yourself.
Not just something—either you’re successful or you’re a failure.
For years, I consumed it. I believed in it. I damn near built monuments to it. I’ve filled my days to the brim with learning, working, exercising, meditating, and then working some more. I was ready to suffer short-term to reap the benefits later. And I was more than excited to do it.
But after a while, this superficial bravado started to crack and exposed the ugly truth underneath.
I was exhausted. I felt depressed. No matter how hard I worked, I was never satisfied. At the same time, I couldn’t stop. Until I could wake up one day and exclaim—“I am officially successful”—it was as if I haven’t made any progress at all.
I felt like a hamster running circles with himself and somehow always coming up second.
By its very nature, this mindset is both deceptive and unsustainable. It promotes an unhealthy obsession with the generic idea of “success” at the cost of personal relationships, physical health, and mental well-being.
And this attitude is prominent today more than ever; every other video on YouTube, Instagram, or TikTok has some variation of a motivational speech, or a quote from a movie, where someone is bragging about how hard they work and making you feel bad for… uhm, watching their videos.
But here’s the kicker: even if you’re working on your dream every hour of every day, according to the bylaws of The Church of Hustle Mindset, you’re still considered a failure until you’re a millionaire with two lambos and a house in the Bahamas.
And even then, you’re still just a peasant compared to the guy next door who is a billionaire with six lambos and four houses in both the Bahamas and Thailand.
You can never win. And you’re not supposed to.
If you’re stuck in a similar mindset, here’s how to develop a healthier relationship with chasing your dreams, without sacrificing everything.
The reason grinding all day doesn’t work
The core issue with the hustle mindset is that it’s a living embodiment of the “all or nothing” mentality, a cognitive bias that makes you see the world in extremes: all or nothing, black or white, right or wrong.
But guess what? The world is not black and white. It’s a Jackson Pollock painting where you can spend your entire life looking at it and still not have the faintest clue what the fuck you’re seeing.
When you see people flaunting on social media, posting photos from exotic places, bragging about how much money they’re making, you feel like you’re missing out on something.
After all, that is the definition of FOMO: fear of missing out.
Looking at endless array of photos, videos, reels, and stories, it seems like everybody is out there, living their dream while you’re stuck in your room trying to “make it”.
What you don’t consider is that this is fake. Even if all the tits, cars, cash, and condos you see are as real as the ground you’re standing on, the story behind each photo or a video is usually nothing but a clever marketing strategy.
It’s a collage of best moments strung together, as if their goal was to make you feel like shit.
How do I know this? Because I witnessed it first-hand.
When I tell people how I spent years leading up to 2020, they drop their jaws in awe.
“You’ve travelled all over the world, working from your laptop, meeting new people, doing what you love, and having amazing experiences? I’m so jealous.”
But like everything else, that’s not really the truth.
On the surface, it’s exactly how it sounds. I did quit my job to run Mind of Steel full time. I did become a digital nomad and travel the world. I did live in exotic locations, work from the beach, and write books while traversing tropical islands. When you display it like that, it does sound amazing. But do you want to hear a secret?
Most of the time, it fucking sucked. I was miserable.
Yes, the beaches were beautiful. Yes, I did have crazy adventures and meet a lot of new people. But you know what also happened? I broke up with my girlfriend while traveling. I worried every second of every day about going broke the following week. Most of the people I met were fake or uninteresting.
I was stressed all the time. And I wasn’t the only one.
Most of the people I met were like me: quit their job to work on their passion while living abroad. But like myself, most of them were full of shit. They were failing and struggling to pay the next month’s rent. They were claiming to be more successful than they actually were.
I’ve witnessed an endless array of Instagram models posing for hours to get that one perfect, “spontaneous” shot, screaming at their friends for not holding the camera right. I’ve seen dudes sell “get rich quick” schemes while borrowing money for next week’s groceries. I’ve seen #CoupleGoals physically attack each other because they genuinely thought that was normal in a relationship.
Meanwhile, you’re at home browsing a collage of someone’s best moments, being jealous of them. But it’s all fake.
This lifestyle has an expiration date for most people, usually within 6–12 months. Most of the people I met during this time have returned home and went back to their old lives with nothing but a few cool stories to tell.
Does this mean I have to give up on my dreams?
Those who actually did make a career while living digital nomad lifestyles were those who had a much healthier attitude toward their work. Ironically, those people seemed to be working the least.
They prioritize quality instead of quality. Work hard for a few hours, focus on the right things, then log off and go enjoy life. No constant selfies on the beach trying to promote a certain lifestyle. No endless pings on their phone with mentions and messages. No humble-bragging or talking about work at all.
So where does that leave you?
Like most vices in life, chasing arbitrary things like “success” and “happiness” is only an attempt to fill holes in your life that make you feel incomplete. Where others try to fill it with alcohol, drugs, or casual sex, you try to fill it with grinding and hustling.
The sooner you realize this is just a sign of a deeper issue, and that no amount of “success” will solve it, the happier you will start to become. Success just amplifies who you are. While the old joke goes “I’d rather cry in a nice car”, at the end of the day, you’re still crying.
Does that mean that you should never chase your dreams? No, of course not. The point is that you shouldn’t burn everything around you to do it.
You can have both a life and a passion. Most people do.
I have yet to see a single real entrepreneur who made it because they hustled at the cost of everything. Those that constantly brag about it are the same ones trying to sell you on this mindset in the first place. Most people who are living their dream, living off their passion, or making innovative changes never brag about how hard they work.
They shut up, get the work done, and move on.
After coming back from my digital nomad life, I realized that while I was checking off all the boxes (work for yourself, travel to exotic places, meet new people, have adventures, etc.), I wasn’t really happy. I was technically “living my best life”, but all it did was make me miserable.
So I went a different route.
Four years later, I am still doing everything I did before. I still work on my passion, still write, still travel very often, still workout, still meet new people, and still have adventures. The only difference is that now I’m also planning a wedding, have deeper relationships, better finances, and feel more at peace with myself.
Spending less time on work means I can spend more time on all the other things I neglected.
The “hustle culture” media exists for one single reason: to sell you on something. While it can fire you up and make you feel like you’re doing more than you actually are, it’s often more harmful than helpful. It creates a mindset that prioritizes work above everything else, leading to burnout, increased stress, even physical health problems.
Hard work is needed, but if you’re focusing on the wrong things, it’s useless.
The only reason these online gurus keep selling you on this mindset is because it’s how they achieve success. They want to keep you in a locked room, struggling with feelings of inadequacy, so you can keep listening to their advice and buying their products. If you actually “make it”, they lose a customer.
I dare you to find someone who promotes this mindset whose whole brand isn’t focused about selling products about it.
Don’t work harder, work smarter
Working smarter means being intentional with your time and resources. It means setting realistic goals, prioritizing tasks, and delegating responsibilities when necessary. It also means taking breaks, practicing self-care, and allowing yourselves to recharge at regular intervals.
If you’re deep into the hustle culture mindset like I was, you will likely dismiss this article by saying something along the lines of “you’re just mad you didn’t make it” or “you should have worked harder” or “you weren’t meant for success”.
But you know what? I don’t really give a fuck what you think. Happiness is not a competition.
Happiness can only be found by embracing all the nuances between “all” or “nothing”, so you can think for yourself and create the life you want to live.
Once you do that, you can finally stop feeling like a loser and just… be happy.