In an online discussion focused on remote work, someone asked, “Are you working from home or living at work?”
The truth is, I’ve been living at work for the last few years. With a home office, it’s so easy to do “one last thing” that ends with me sitting at my desk for a few more hours while my dog stares at me, begging to go play in the park.
So after that convo got me thinking, I picked up a book my mom had bought me for Christmas (which should have already made it clear to me that I have a problem): To Hell with the Hustle by Jefferson Bethke (opens in new tab).
This book has blown my mind, in a good way—I even got out a highlighter so I could remember all the powerful quotes and concepts I was learning. One of the main principles of the book is the concept of formations versus goals. We’re a goal-oriented society. We make resolutions, use #goals as a regular part of our vocabulary, and look forward to smashing those goals so we can create new ones. But is that really good for your soul?
Let’s start thinking about formations instead of goals. What’s the difference? According to Bethke, the concept of formations “seems to capture a bigger, truer idea. Goals are about what practices I’m doing. Formations are, too, but because they add a few extra words in the beginning, they take on a deeper layer: formations are who I am becoming through the practices I’m doing.”
Let’s say you have a goal of writing a book within the next year. A better approach, using the formations principle, is to focus on identity. For example, saying you want to be someone who incorporates writing into your everyday life or saying you will write for 10 minutes a day, four days a week. The difference? “There’s no finish line. Make it more of a practice or way of life that will hopefully stay with you for the next 60 years,” says Bethke.
Bethke goes on to describe the feeling of failure if you reach only 80 percent of your goal. But if you practice your formations 80 percent of the time, “you can still very much know that the rhythm is changing your quality of life and who you are fundamentally.”
Let’s throw those goals out the window. Get into formations. Start living our best lives. To hell with the hustle.