One day as I was scrolling through LinkedIn, I saw a post that was boasting about how the “5 to 9” is crucial. From side hustles to intense workouts, many people are bragging about what they can accomplish in the hours before and after work. This hustle culture mentality promotes the idea that we are only as worthy as the work we can complete in a day.
I find this mentality worrisome as I try to avoid valuing myself in conditional ways. While I am valued for the work I contribute to my company, I am also innately valuable by simply being a human. To remind myself of my innate worth, I participate in activities and hobbies that serve my personal passions. These activities and hobbies bring me an abundance of inner joy and peace even when they aren’t seen by others as “productive” in terms of bringing me money or recognition. When I follow my passions and know my innate worth, I am reminded of what I offer the world outside of my productivity.
If you feel you need to remind yourself that you are more than your productivity, here are three things to do instead of being “productive.”
Pickup a hobby (not a side hustle) that brings you joy
Since 2019 I’ve hosted my podcast Ignited by Inner Beauty as a way to discuss body positivity, female empowerment, and self-love. I discuss these topics because they matter to me, and I love to have an outlet that talks about women’s inner beauty in a world that mainly discusses women’s outward appearances.
I did not start this podcast to make extra money or to bolster my resume. Instead, I am producing this podcast because I am passionate about spreading the message of inner beauty to my listeners. It has been a joy to interview women who are teachers, singers, doctors, violinists, and authors and witness them share their inner beauty. It is also extremely rewarding to be able to bring their passions to light as I am able to share their experiences with my audience.
I strongly believe that it is important for people to find at least one hobby they enjoy that is not tied to financial gain. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to make extra money, adding financial pressure to a hobby can easily turn your fun activity into a chore. You can knit scarves without selling them online, and you can have an online blog that doesn’t bring you money. Having hobbies that bring you joy is always worth your time and effort.
When I have a lot on my plate from work obligations to family commitments, it seems like there is never enough time to sleep or rest. I have definitely been guilty of pushing rest to the back burner because, despite my exhaustion, I have felt pressure from the outside world to be productive. I’ve often heard the phrase, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” from busy friends or colleagues as they’ve pulled all-nighters to check off items on their to-do lists.
However, resting allows us to be fully present as we go through our lives. When I’m well rested I can give 100% to my commitments instead of going through my day with a lack of energy and a foggy brain. For me, rest looks like getting a good night’s sleep, taking a nap instead of having another cup of coffee when I’m tired, and not feeling guilty when I choose to watch Netflix instead of going to the gym on days when I feel exhausted. When I listen to my body and put rest first, I can be my best self mentally, physically, and emotionally.
I’ve also taken this rest-first approach when I’ve been sick. Instead of trying to push through the discomfort and go to work when I’m feeling unwell, I’ve taken sick days off from work to focus on recovering. If I were to work when feeling sick, I would’ve burned out quickly and it would’ve taken even longer to be back giving my all.
Getting rest on a regular basis can also help prevent sickness and burnout, so while it may not seem productive to take a few hours to yourself after work or get a full night’s sleep even when you have a huge to-do list, rest is an investment in your future well-being.
Remind yourself of your worth
When I’m feeling down on myself, I talk with my husband or call my friend or sister. Speaking with my loved ones, who love me for who I am, is a great reminder of my innate worthiness. They love me when I’m at my best and my worst.
Writing in my journal is another way to release some negative energy; I find that writing something down on the page allows me to sit with my feelings and make peace with them moving forward. Writing down positive affirmations such as, “I am worthy, I am loved, and I am always enough.” is another great way to remind myself of these truths.
On days when I make a mistake at work or simply don’t feel “good” enough, I try to remind myself that I am loved and worthy regardless of my productivity level or accomplishments. I am worthy when I am working on big projects for my company and when I sit on the couch and watch my favorite TV show. While it’s easy to buy into hustle culture or convince myself I need to make a certain amount of money to be seen as successful, I know that I am enough no matter what the outside world thinks of me.
Originally published on January 12, 2023.