Hustle or not: MAXIMIZE opportunities, MINIMIZE distractions

Hustle or not! Very often, when someone says "do not," the voice is raised - "Easy to say so when you have a career. What was your approach when you were young?" I think it is wrong to question to ask. It is about the different goals at different stages, with other possible impacts and payoffs.

Hustle or not: MAXIMIZE opportunities, MINIMIZE distractions

Hustle or not! Very often, when someone says "do not," the voice is raised - "Easy to say so when you have a career. What was your approach when you were young?"

Maybe it isn't a direct answer to this question, but here is how I think about it (now, let's be frank - when I was younger, I haven't thought about it a lot :) ).

It is a continuation of mini-series around career development over time. If you are interested, in two recent posts, I wrote about:

Why I split it into two parts and approaches? Sounds obvious but let's say it: because those stages are different.

When you start, it is about MAXIMIZING your opportunities! Later it is about MINIMIZING the distractions and things you don't want in your life.

Maximize opportunities

Hustle or not? Is it a question?

If you talked with current me, I would say - no! If you spoke to 20+ years me, I would say, "Bring it on, baby, give me more."

It wasn't a conscious decision back then, but it turned out it played well for me.

I did plenty of things:

  • Delivered talks on conferences

  • Writing two different blogs (in Polish and English)

  • Spending time on on-line forums

  • Writing articles to magazines

  • Writing and reviewing books

  • Writing tools and scripts (besides the work)

  • Working full-time job

I was young (still am), I had plenty of time, and I used it to hustle. In perspective, I could do it more efficiently, and I could spend a bit less time on it.

Regardless, the goal was to MAXIMIZE the number of opportunities.

In this period, it was good for me as I haven't had a good plan what exactly to do with my career and life (I still kind of don't have it, but it is a subject for another post). If someone offered me an exciting opportunity outside of Poland back then, most likely, I would live somewhere else now.

The point is: early in your life, you want to maximize the potential number of opportunities and paths you want to take. Let's face it:

  • Hardly any decision at this stage is life long choice

  • Those decisions doesn't have long-time effect

  • These are not final, and everything can be changed

  • You still have years ahead of you to try out some new things.

What you want to do then is to keep them coming, trying, and finally decided - OK, this is IT. You want to see if this will take me somewhere.

Hardly anything will result in a decision that will affect your life. (Avoid doing things with potential extreme outcomes on the dangerous side, and you should be fine).

Minimize distractions

Maximizing opportunities has one disadvantage. It creates a lot of noise and obligations. It also takes a lot of time. It is worth realizing it early, and even at an early stage, filter out some things, which takes a lot of time and are not promising any results.

Later, it is where gravity shifts. You found your thing or even a couple. You bet on those things; there is a good chance that one of those has developed into your full-time job and career. The number of items that take your time grows. You find yourself battling with your schedule and calendar.


What you want to do is to start to cut distractions and maximize output. Distractions might be people asking you to deliver talks on every conference around, as you used to do it. It is nice; it is easy to say yes. you need to start to ask yourself a question:

What is the impact of it?,

What outcome I will get from it for myself and the work I want to do?

Distractions might be people you spend time with, where you don't see anything coming out of it, or you see that they drag you back. I'm not saying you cut off all your friends from the past, but there are some relations where you can't say why you still keep it going.

Distractions might be all the side tasks and projects you did in the past, like writing for other blogs, answering the questions on the forums, etc.

You have to name them as it depends on what contributes to what you want to do and your priorities. If you still have no idea about it, you are still in the phase to maximize the opportunities. Or you have finished one thing, and you are not sure what is the next one. Then there might be a short period to maximize the opportunities again.

The more you mature, and the more you develop, it is about MINIMIZING distractions and maximizing the outcome.

What is the outcome? You need to define it for you?

It doesn't have to be something to be delivered or the next goal to achieve.

It might even be "doing NOTHING" if it is a lifestyle of choice for you.

Early on - MAXIMIZE opportunities.

Later in the journey - MINIMIZE distractions.

Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash