What Is the Grindset and How Do I Overcome It?

August 28, 2023


Brad Hook


In a world that often glorifies the hustle, the Grindset—a relentless drive to work hard, constantly, and excessively—can seem like the golden path to success. But what happens when this ‘always-on’ approach spirals into distress or so-called “burnout”? Let’s explore the dark side of the Grindset and explore a healthier, more sustainable alternative.

In this article

  • Defining Grindset: Beyond hard work, it's endless work, neglecting well-being for goals.
  • Media and Culture: Movies, startup culture, and media glamorize grind. Blurring success and overwork, harming well-being.
  • Characteristics and Impact: Grindset traits harm quality and productivity. Overwork paradoxically hampers results.
  • Transition to Kindset: Enter "Kindset" – balanced success. Prioritize self-care, boundaries, and relationships.

Defining Grindset

The Grindset is not just about working hard; it’s about working constantly. It's a mindset fixated on achieving goals at all costs, characterized by the inability to switch off and step back. It’s the ‘never enough’ and ‘always more’ approach, regardless of the toll it takes on our lives.

Here’s how this mindset has infiltrated our lives:

In Film and Television

Countless movies and TV shows portray the tireless workaholic as the hero—the one who sacrifices everything for success and inevitably comes out on top. Think of characters in films like “The Wolf of Wall Street” or “The Social Network,” where relentless ambition is glamorized.

In Start-up Culture

The start-up world is notorious for its ‘crunch’ culture. Founders and early employees often wear their 80-hour workweeks as a badge of honor—a sign that they are committed to their vision. This culture is perpetuated by stories of successful entrepreneurs who claim their extreme work ethic was the key to their success.

On Social Media and Influencer Culture

With hashtags like #hustle and #grind, social media platforms are rife with influencers and entrepreneurs showcasing their ‘always on’ lifestyle. These posts often portray a glamorous side of constant work, making it seem both desirable and necessary for success.

In Self-help and Motivational Literature

A slew of books and motivational speakers push the narrative that you aren’t working hard enough unless you are ‘grinding’ day in and day out. They promote the idea that rest is for the weak and that relentless work is the only path to true success.

Grant Cardone's "The 10X Rule" urges readers to take massive action, working ten times harder than others to avoid mediocrity and achieve success. Gary Vaynerchuk’s "Crush It!" is a call to turn passions into a lucrative career, often pointing to his own tireless work ethic as a blueprint. Timothy Ferriss' "The 4-Hour Workweek" promotes optimizing life for constant productivity, suggesting that smart, intense work can buy freedom. Napoleon Hill's classic "Think and Grow Rich" sets forth principles of success rooted in burning desire and persistent effort. "Hustle" by Neil Patel, Patrick Vlaskovits, and Jonas Koffler champions the ‘hustle’ as the key to financial and personal success. Lastly, Ben Horowitz's "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" offers a raw look into the demanding world of entrepreneurship, emphasizing the tough decisions and relentless effort required to build a company. While these books aim to motivate and guide readers toward success, their emphasis on extreme dedication can be interpreted as promoting a "Grindset" mentality.

Glamorization of Burnout

In some circles, burnout (or a catastrophic downward spiral) is almost seen as a rite of passage—a sign that you are working so hard you’ve reached your breaking point, and this is oddly celebrated. Many consulting firms and startups have cultures of performance without care.

The Grindset mentality, as seen through these lenses, creates an illusion that such a lifestyle is not only normal but is the path to success and respect. It equates personal and professional worth with constant work, and it often dismisses the importance of health, relationships, and personal well-being.

However, this portrayal misses the very real costs—physical, mental, and emotional—that such a lifestyle can impose. It's a narrow view of success, one that can lead to burnout, strained relationships, and a host of health issues.

Common Characteristics of Grindset

Workaholism. Perfectionism. Chronic stress. An avoidance of leisure activities and a perpetual feeling of running out of time. These are the hallmarks of someone caught in the Grindset.

Let’s explore these and some other symptoms of excessive Grindset in more detail:

  1. Workaholism: More than a dedication to one’s job, it’s an obsession, where work constantly preoccupies thoughts, even during leisure time.
  2. Perfectionism: The relentless pursuit of flawless performance, often leading to procrastination due to fear of producing subpar work.
  3. Chronic Stress: A persistent feeling of being overwhelmed, strained, and anxious due to excessive workloads and expectations.
  4. Avoidance of Leisure Activities: A tendency to view relaxation or hobbies as unproductive or wasteful, thus avoiding them.
  5. Inability to 'Switch Off': Struggling to detach from work, leading to constant checking of work emails, messages, and making late-night or weekend work a norm. 
  6. Neglecting Physical and Emotional Wellbeing: Ignoring signs of physical or emotional exhaustion until they escalate into more serious health issues.
  7. Depersonalization: Developing a cynical and detached approach to work, clients, and colleagues, due to extreme stress and workload.
  8. Substance Abuse: Many people caught up in the grind rely on substances to turn on and switch off. The movie Limitless glamorizes superhuman productivity. It was actually based on off-label use of narcolepsy and ADHD drugs, which became a trend in Silicon Valley Grindset culture. The problem is that stimulant abuse generally requires sedatives in order to relax.  

Who is Most at Risk of Adopting a Grindset?

Ambitious individuals in competitive industries, high-achievers, entrepreneurs, and anyone with stringent personal expectations or demanding jobs—these are the folks most likely to fall into the Grindset trap.

Let’s explore these personality types in more detail:

  1. Ambitious Professionals: Individuals in highly competitive fields, such as finance, law, or tech, where long hours are normalized and expected.
  2. Entrepreneurs and Start-up Founders: Those who are starting a new business may feel that every hour not spent working is a lost opportunity, making them prone to the Grindset.
  3. High Achievers and Perfectionists: People who have always excelled and fear that slowing down equals failure.
  4. Individuals with Financial Pressure: Those who are working multiple jobs or long hours due to financial necessity or the fear of financial instability.
  5. People in Cultures that Glorify Overwork: Living in a society or community that equates busyness with status and importance.
  6. Individuals with Previous Burnout Experience: Ironically, those who have suffered from burnout in the past may be at risk of falling back into these habits if they haven’t developed new coping strategies.

Implications of Grindset on Wellbeing, Productivity, and Performance

The Grindset isn’t just exhausting—it’s destructive. It wreaks havoc on physical and mental health, erodes relationships, and paradoxically, often leads to a decline in the quality and effectiveness of our work. It’s a cycle that is anything but sustainable.

The Toll on Wellbeing

Adopting a Grindset can have serious consequences on one's physical and mental health. The relentless push to work harder and longer leads to chronic stress, which manifests in various ways, from sleep disorders to anxiety and depression. It’s not uncommon for people with this mindset to neglect self-care, opting to skip meals, exercise, or adequate sleep in favor of more work hours. This neglect can trigger a downward spiral, leading to cognitive, emotional and even physical distress. 

The Paradox of Productivity

While the Grindset is driven by a desire to achieve maximum productivity, it often leads to the opposite outcome. Working extreme hours without sufficient rest can result in cognitive decline, where decision-making skills, memory, and creativity are compromised. In the long run, this constant state of overdrive creates a cycle of diminishing returns, where more hours worked does not equate to more or better output. It’s a paradox where the quest for ultimate productivity ends up stifling the very productivity it aims to enhance.

Undermining Performance and Potential

When someone is constantly in “grind” mode, the quality of their work can suffer significantly. They may become so focused on the quantity of tasks completed that they lose sight of the quality and impact of their work. This tunnel vision can lead to mistakes, overlooked details, and ultimately a decline in professional performance. Furthermore, the Grindset can strain professional relationships, as the individual may become increasingly isolated, less collaborative, and more competitive in unhealthy ways. In severe cases, this could lead to job loss, a damaged reputation or poor interpersonal relations.

Balancing the ‘Grindset’ with ‘Kindset’

Enter what I am calling a Kindset: a conscious shift towards self-compassion, care for others, and a holistic view of success. This is not about working less; it’s about working smarter and kinder. It’s about recognizing that true success is multidimensional and that caring for ourselves and others is a vital part of the equation. Kindset is not fluffy, it involves fiercely focusing on what matters, being purposeful, and practicing altruism and compassion.

Micro-habits for Shifting from a Grindset to a Sustainable Rhythm (Performance with Care)

  1. Mindful Breaks: Step away from your desk. Exhale for six seconds. A five-minute walk can reboot your body and mind.
  2. Self-compassion Exercise: Treat yourself with the kindness and understanding you’d give to a dear friend in times of struggle.
  3. Boundaries: Define your work hours clearly and guard your personal time fiercely.
  4. Prioritize Self-care: Exercise. Sleep. Nutrition. These aren’t luxuries; they’re your fundamental tools for peak performance.
  5. Connect with Others: Cherish your relationships. Allocate time for family, friends, or engage in community service.
  6. Reflect and Re-assess: Regularly check in with yourself. Are you feeling constantly strained? Revisit and adjust your habits and workload accordingly.


In a world where success is often equated with constant hustle and grind, it’s easy to fall into the trap of the Grindset. Defined by a relentless commitment to hard work and productivity, this mentality is glamorized across various platforms—from the charismatic entrepreneurs in start-up culture to the celebrated workaholic characters in films. Whether you are an ambitious professional, an entrepreneur, or a high achiever, you may find this Grindset appealing and seemingly effective, at least initially.

However, the toll this approach takes on one’s wellbeing is undeniable. From chronic stress that affects physical and mental health to the neglect of basic self-care routines, the Grindset sets a dangerous precedent. It often promises peak productivity but ironically leads to cognitive decline and a cycle of diminishing returns, where the hard work becomes less effective over time. In the professional realm, the insistence on grinding can undermine the quality of one’s work, strain relationships with colleagues, and ultimately limit one's potential for growth and success.

But there is a different path—a more sustainable, compassionate, and holistic approach to success and fulfillment.

Instead of perpetuating the Grindset, imagine a world where we balance this with a “Kindset”—a mindset focused on care for oneself and others. This isn't about abandoning ambition or goals; it’s about redefining what success looks like. It’s about recognizing that taking time for rest, for hobbies, for relationships, and for self-care isn’t a deviation from the path to success—it is a critical part of that path.

Adopting a Kindset encourages us to set boundaries, prioritize our health, and cultivate our relationships. It invites us to develop micro-habits that foster a sustainable rhythm to life and work—a rhythm that values performance but also deeply respects care. This could be as simple as setting a hard stop to the workday, engaging in regular exercise, meditating, or scheduling time with loved ones.

In this light, success becomes a journey that nourishes not just our professional aspirations but our human essence. It’s a journey that allows us to achieve and thrive without losing ourselves in the process.

So, as we step into our daily lives, let us challenge the pervasive narrative of the Grindset and champion a new narrative—one that celebrates balance, values wellbeing, and ultimately leads us to a richer, more fulfilling life.

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