Don’t Hustle Hard, Hustle Smart

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AdobeStock 67873899

In business and entrepreneurship, there are few bigger buzzwords today than “hustle.” It’s on shirts and hats, in hashtags and social media profiles. While I have nothing against working hard, I’m noticing a problem with this hustle mindset: Entrepreneurs are making “hustle” their main goal.

They feel like as long as they’re killing themselves, they must be doing something right. In fact, they’re addicted to the hustle.

Many of us get so caught up in this hectic way of life that we forget to analyze what we’re even hustling toward in the first place. We ask ourselves, Are my daily activities moving me toward my overall vision? Am I working on the right things? But most importantly: Is there another way?

How Successful Entrepreneurs Plan

After spending time with and consulting for some of the most successful entrepreneurs on the planet — people who have grown billion-dollar enterprises and have made billions of dollars themselves — I’ve noticed that their goals are different. They don’t focus on frantically accomplishing tasks or hustling. Instead they look for ways to increase their awareness by any means possible, because they’ve realized that awareness is what creates success.

They accomplish that awareness by aggressively lowering Pressure and Noise, a term I use to explain the overwhelming pull of forces surrounding you, that is in their lives, and increasing the protection and support around them so that they can work within their strengths.

Successful entrepreneurs understand that the more calm and present they can become, the greater their decision-making abilities will be, and the more likely they are to make the right business moves. They don’t get lost in busywork or spin their wheels, because they have a clear vision they’re driving toward with intention every day.

One of the reasons our culture is so obsessed with hustle is that the systems we use to stay organized and accomplish goals actually promote this frantic activity. These systems are driven by agendas, calendars and lists. But there will always be more dates to fill in, more items to add to the to-do list and more appointments to make. That’s why these traditional planning systems start to feel like constraint for entrepreneurs. They drop us into a system where we can’t win. In fact, I’ve found that traditional to-do lists actually become “to-lose lists,” because they don’t really help us win in the day (but they do a great job of reminding us of what we weren’t able to accomplish).

I’ve discovered that accomplishing tasks isn’t the main struggle for people like us. We naturally have that inner drive to get things done and push forward. Our problem is that we often do too much, shouldering too many responsibilities to the point where we can’t find the momentum we need to be successful.

Make Your Hustle Intentional

The goal of anyone’s hustle should be to create momentum. If your hustle isn’t doing that for you, it’s time to reevaluate your process; because in order for hustle to create momentum, it has to be purposeful and planned. That’s why I tell all of my clients to establish a planning system that’s based on creating intention and generating momentum.

If you look at something like Momentum-Based Planning, you’ll find a process emphasizing intention over to-do lists, teaching entrepreneurs to offload where they’re uncomfortable. By focusing on intention, entrepreneurs will know that their hustle — whatever they’re doing — is the the best use of their time, and accomplishing these tasks will ultimately bring them what they want. And they can hustle and move forward faster by limiting the items that hold them back. This way their “hustle” is intentional, efficient and directed toward an outcome.

Most importantly for entrepreneurs, a Momentum-Based Planning system shows you the win, because it’s not based on the activities you undertake, but rather whether or not you accomplished your intention for the day. When we’re able to get clear on our intention — what we’re really trying to accomplish — and make progress toward that every day, it provides us with a feeling of accomplishment. We can feel ourselves moving toward our overall vision for where we want to be in the future. And when that happens, our addiction to hustle can be effective, healthy and beneficial.


About the author: Alex Charfen is co-founder and CEO of CHARFEN, a training, education and consulting organization for entrepreneurs and small businesses. For more information, visit


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