By Doing More, I Ended Up Achieving Less
by Gerald Castillo
I started 2022 on a very positive note — immediately after taking a COVID-19 antigen test, I found out I was COVID-positive.
“Trying times” was an understatement for what I experienced throughout a total of four harrowing weeks. As the CEO of a digital marketing business that brings food to the table of twelve full-time team members, the downtime from getting sick pushed me into a state of fear — a fear that if I didn’t do enough, my business would end up failing. Everything I’ve worked hard for for the past five years would be wiped away in an instant, I thought to myself.
Out of this state of fear, my immediate reaction was to try everything I could to create results. That meant scraping everything high and low, not leaving any stone unturned. The moment I recovered from COVID, I started filling up my schedule to the brim with “work” that, I believed at the time, would propel me and my business forward. It eventually turned into a process of throwing stuff at the wall just to see what sticks.
Hustle Culture Gone Wrong
Each day of my schedule was focused on closing leads, doing meetings, writing for my personal blog, researching for a new book I was writing, and planning out a podcast to record. I was the epitome of “hustle culture”, thinking that doing everything but the kitchen sink would turn me into the productivity powerhouse that my business needed.
As I struggled through countless days and nights thinking I was doing productive work, it slipped my mind that I was slowly ruining one of the most critical ingredients of success in all the work I was doing: myself. I was sleeping less, skipping meals, and indulging in junk food as a form of stress relief. My exercise routine went out of the window in favor of squeezing in more meetings. With my mind and body constantly drained and tired, I ended up making worse decisions. The quality of my work started to suffer and being “sabaw” became an everyday experience.
I realized that I was doing more stuff, I was actually achieving less.
It took several mistakes in meetings and work for me to realize that being a jack of all trades wasn’t going to make my work any more effective, as I was doing a pretty bad job at every project I was trying to work on. After getting a grip on myself, I tried remedying this by doing the complete opposite of what I was doing up to that point. I switched up my schedule again a couple more times until I ended up with one that worked. And ironically, what worked was a schedule that had less work.
Treating Life Like an RPG
I started treating life like a role-playing game: starting off your character, you’re usually introduced with a pre-determined number of points to dedicate to your character’s skills.
A safe way to go through life is to dedicate those points equally across the board. +1 Strength. +1 Intelligence. +1 Charisma. +1 Technical Ability. Equally split, you know you won’t fall short when the time comes to flex those skills. But at the same time, you’re not bound to impress anyone or show incredible results.
Treat your time the same way. Each day, you’re given a predetermined set of hours to dedicate for yourself. You can work on ten projects, an hour each a day and move the needle bit by bit, or dedicate ten hours solely on one project and see much more exponential results.
Taking into consideration food and sleep, 24 hours a day suddenly becomes a valuable finite resource — a resource where walking back on a decision is out of the question.
I realized that trying to live out a toxic version of hustle culture only pushed my work into a cycle of:
- not getting enough rest, leading to,
- making bad decisions, which then I had to,
- work overtime to correct said bad decisions, leading to, again,
- not getting enough rest
Because of that, I decided that my new schedule had to focus on three key things: Fitness, Focused Work, and Rest.
I started cutting off things that I felt was supposed to be a focus, but ended up becoming a distraction from the real things I should’ve been focusing on: exercise, looking for clients, and spending time with loved ones (my bed included).
It was hard to adjust at first — I was scared that I was doing less. But over time, I saw the beautiful side effects of this and the impact it had on my day-to-day work.
I started seeing my friends more often, which raised my energy levels as I knew that I didn’t have to focus on work 24/7. My family saw that I was happier and was spending more time with them outside of just the meals we had. I felt more energized with work, getting compliments from my team about how a clearer mind actually made me make more sense as a team member. Best of all, I started seeing my work slowly improve and show better results, without sacrificing the life that I had today.
I’ve always felt that this new ‘me’ I was living out was a version of myself that I’d only meet once I settled down and retired. Hustle culture had been so ingrained into me, making me believe that the only way to reach success is by spending every waking moment of your life on work. That I had to sacrifice my time for myself and loved ones up to my 40s to be able to live the rest of my years comfortably. I was so focused on the life I could earn in the future, not realizing that I was sacrificing the moments I could be living in the present.
In the end, I ended up doing ‘less’. However, doing ‘less’ gave me so much more out of life.
About the Author
Gerald brings his team together as the CEO of Eight Media, ensuring they have the best strategy in creating awareness for brands, generating leads for businesses and startups, and creating results through digital marketing and funnel consultancy.
He is also the author of Love At First Sale, a book centered around the Eight Media story and his learnings from growing a 7-figure company without investors, spending a cent on marketing, or looking at the competition.
KadaKareer is a community-based career development platform for underserved students in the Philippines hoping to launch their digital careers. “Kada” comes from the word barkada, which means a group of friends. We are a Filipino student’s cheerleader, coach, and support group throughout their entire career journey!