Quitting the Hustle: Finding Success in Lowered Expectations


I am a verbal processor. Recently, I was in the car “processing” this post with my husband, searching for the right word to convey what I was leaving behind in the wake of 2017. When I settled on the word “hustle,” he pointed out that #hustle is a buzzword plastered on t-shirts and ceramic mugs across America. The word hustle has come to be understood in a variety of ways, so to clarify, I am pulling from the following three definitions:

Hustle (verb) :

1. To push or force one’s way; jostle or shove.

2. Force (someone) to move hurriedly or unceremoniously in a specified direction.

3. Obtain by forceful action or persuasion.

Surprisingly, I am standing in this new year looking back with fond memories of the holiday season. It was busy, full of birthdays, events, and house guests, and I enjoyed it all! The busyness wasn’t different. Presence and fun took the place of something else this year. I left the hustle behind.


I made three key choices in the midst of a full and busy season. They lightened my load, and maybe they will lighten yours. 

Lower Your Expectations

Three days before Christmas, and two hours before my out-of-town guests arrived, I was standing in the checkout line at Fred Meyer. After scanning my items, the checker looked up at me a bit perplexed and stated, “I’ll be honest, these are not the typical items I expect to see someone purchasing three days before Christmas.” I had just purchased $94 dollars worth of cleaning supplies and paper products. As you can imagine, I didn’t get the house dialed in and scrubbed from top to bottom in that short amount of time. But, when the doorbell rang and I was mid-way through vacuuming the house, I left the stress of the unfinished task to be dealt with on a different day. There was no time to worry about the carpet when welcoming our family members who traveled from three different states to arrive in time for Christmas. No one noticed anyway. The gift of the holidays is being with people. I quit the hustle and lowered my expectations of having a perfectly clean house to snuggle on the couch with my family. 

Share the Load

With 16 hungry mouths to feed over a four-day span, meal planning and food prep are important, yet daunting tasks. I aim to be the “hostess with the mostess” with every detail in order, but following our move to a new city and a recent major surgery, I knew this wasn’t the year to do it on my own. So I asked for help. A few conversations later, a shared meal plan was in effect, and I had a team to help me. We stopped off at Zupans to get coffee and a pastry while walking around looking at all the pretty things. And then we loaded in my minivan and lived our real life in the aisles of Winco. My kitchen was utilized to its full potential that week, and my Christmas memories smell like steak fajitas, Christmas morning coffee cake, and whiskey eggnog. Sharing the load provided opportunities for collaboration and connection.   

Be Spontaneous

Christmas felt a bit more magical this year because we had snow. But that snow turned to ice and altered our plans to travel into the city for the evening. We traded in our festive Christmas Eve attire for snow boots and winter jackets and made our way outside. We went sledding in the driveway, and then took our large party down the hill to the neighborhood Thai food restaurant. The kids played Uno while we ate, talked, and laughed. We cracked open our fortune cookies and read them aloud, and realized we were the only ones left in the restaurant. The evening was slow and perfect. We had nowhere to be but with each other. Being spontaneous and making a last-minute adjustment offered up a unexpected gift we unwrapped on Christmas Eve 

In leaving the hustle behind, I stopped thinking about the next moment and actually lived in the present one.