Letter of the week: Confront hustle culture and decouple our identities from our outputs

Undergrads who embrace hustle culture should know that the habits they create now can follow them throughout their careers, says the reader. PHOTO: ST FILE

I was encouraged by the level of thinking demonstrated by Ms Valerie Koo Jie Wen in her letter on the cult of busy-ness (Time to break the hustle culture among university students, Nov 4).

Ms Koo articulated many valid points which are aligned with those of thought leaders. Undergraduates who embrace hustle culture should know that the habits they create now, like overworking and poor work-life balance, can follow them throughout their careers. These come with consequences such as burnout and a negative impact on physical health, mental health, relationships and overall well-being. In fact, they may have already experienced these effects before. Indeed, there are reports of signs of burnout in even schoolchildren these days.

Thought leaders suggest that we could confront this hustle culture by first understanding the factors that drive the behaviour of overworking: the desire to show others that we are hard-working, the misconceived notion that busy-ness is a status symbol, the pressure to blindly mimic workaholic supervisors or colleagues, and the mentality that being busy equates to being important.

We have to take back control of our time by setting boundaries, reframing free time from “unproductive time” to time that’s essential to help recharge, and pivoting away from the mindset that if you could be working, then you should be working.

The post-pandemic era of our relentlessly kinetic world – one that feels the need to be constantly on the move – could perhaps give us the chance we need to cultivate stillness and reflect, reassess and decouple our identities from our outputs, so that we do not end up losing sight of our humanity and who we really are.

Woon Wee Min

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