If you fall down 7 times, you can only get up 7 times. Sorry, life coaches and motivational speakers, but it’s just physics. You can’t possibly undo an action more times than the action has been done. Can’t you people count?
It’s not that I think that phrase is ill intentioned or anything, I just think it’s a great example of motivation and hustle culture. Boil down that phrase, and it’s unrealistic and impossible. Unfortunately, that’s the model most of these people push. An unsustainable model of perseverance and hard work that rarely takes time to focus on self care, rest, and mental health.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am a massive proponent for perseverance and hard work. They will take you all the places you want to be, for sure. But if not balanced, you run the risk of anxiety, depression, and burnout. Trust me, I did exactly that, and more than once. You’d think I’d learn from my mistakes, but I am ungodly stubborn.
We have to recognize that our own ability to work and push ourselves ebbs and flows. I’ve gone through stretches comfortable working 12 hour days, with additional hours spent making art after. I’ve also gone through periods where my desire to work has tanked and left me struggling to get through 6 hour days and accomplish anything. More often than not, I fall somewhere in the middle.
Of course my own work flow is heavily dictated by my mental health, and bipolar episodes, whether manic or depressive, can entirely consume how you work. The thing is, even if you don’t manage mental health issues, you still experience ups and downs that need to be acknowledged. You still need rest when you feel down, and you still need to take advantage of feeling motivated and productive.
Even with those factors, productivity doesn’t solely hinge on mental health. Most of it is determined by your use of time, no matter what your mental state is. I’ve spent years trying to learn my strengths during my moods, and I’ve found that some tasks come easier in certain states of mind. I can’t get anything organizational done when I’m depressed. I’m less likely to make personal art when I’m manic. I can work longer hours on an upswing, and I need more sleep on the downswing. I’ve monitored and adjusted behavior a thousand times trying to find basic productivity for all situations.
One thing I’ve found is that I can’t marry myself to any strict adherence to schedules and routines. Yes, I keep routines, but I always give myself options to adjust or altogether skip them if necessary. The main reason I do this is because if I hit a major depressive episode, I can’t beat myself up for not accomplishing what I planned. Another reason is because life happens. Shit comes up and interferes with plans all the time, and you need to be able to roll with that.
That’s where I always find the flaw in hustle culture and motivational speaking. It rarely makes room for roadblocks. When it does, it’s usually sati to smash through them or some shit. Not that you shouldn’t move past them, but sometimes it takes time to navigate, and that’s fine. There’s no shame in slowing down, because slowing down can allow you to recharge much needed energy and calculate your moves. Sometimes moving too fast ends up slowing you down because you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing and to what your body and mind tell you.
I’ve been in a massive lull for probably a year or so. Tattooing less, doing less art, less videos, less blogs. There’s been a lot of adjustment to having a new son, and a slew of other circumstantial issues that sap my drive and desire to put in hard work. I’ve spent so much of this time beating myself up for not accomplishing more, because I know I’m capable, I just haven’t been able to push myself like I used to. Part of me started to think I’m just getting old and can’t keep pace with my old hustle. the more reasonable part of me understands that there have been changes, and that I’m no longer beholden to my old ways.
See, you can make changes at any point. Nothing forces you to stay in the same routine. And if your body or mind are growing tired, then maybe a change is exactly what you need. Whether it’s a change for a day, or a change for life, switching things up might be the prescription.
You don’t have to grind 24/7. In fact, it’s probably stupid if you do. After all, grinding by definition wears things down.