When did working hard start going out of style? We feel sorry for those people who bust their butts, putting the extra time and extra mile to set themselves apart. Sure, there’s plenty to say about abusive work environments, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. What I’m questioning is our destructive culture of wanting to get as much as possible for the least amount of effort.
You can see it anywhere, whether it’s videos from self-made millionaires, books about how to retire by 30 or adverts about working a couple days a week. These are just click-bait slogans trying to sell an image of easy money, when the truth is that most people who succeed in life get there by busting their ass.
Here is what I’m proposing: stop thinking there’s an easy way to be successful in life, and start appreciating the hard work it takes to get there. It’s not some hippy crap either; I not only believe in hard work, but I also believe you can find enjoyment in hard work.
“But Sean, hard work seems like too much hard work.”
Ask yourself, who are the real achievers? Look at true entrepreneurs and inventors; those who put in years of work through failed projects and sleepless nights to get to the top. They may have had visions about an easy life in the future, but they never lost sight of the hard work it takes to get there. These are people who worked jobs while going to school, stayed up late working on their side projects and got to the office early to get a head start.
I know the best bosses I’ve had, the ones with nice cars and big houses yet still are in the office a couple hours extra to get things done. They still take big vacations and reap the rewards of success, but they never lost track of how they got there.
“But Sean, what about the sacrifices to their family?”
This comes up a lot, where people tell me they value their free time to spend with friends and family. Some of the most driven people I know find a way to balance family, work, recreation and still have room to push themselves a bit further.
How can they do this you might ask? It might sound crazy, but hard work is a habit, not some trait you’re born with. There are arguments whether anyone can be an entrepreneur or leader, but there’s no doubt in my mind that anyone can achieve more.
So, where does this start? It doesn’t start by changing your whole life like some motivational speaker might tell you. There’s no ‘become a new person tomorrow’ junk or anything like that, it’s a simple act of small steps and discipline. You won’t go start a business tomorrow, but maybe you’ll spend an extra hour and write a blog, clean your place or start a hobby.
It begins with something small. Everyday just do one thing extra after work until it becomes routine. I used to make sure everyday I did one project around the house, and eventually it felt good to be clean and organized. Gradually I started writing more, going out to network more, working a little bit more, and because it was a bit at a time, there was no shock to my lifestyle.
Over time, life becomes about getting things done and enjoying it and you start to find satisfaction in getting work done. You’ll know when this happens because you start feeling like junk when you waste an evening doing nothing. I also know hard work is a habit because of how easily you can break that habit. Get lazy for a few weeks and suddenly you start wanting to do nothing more at the end of the day but watch TV.
“But Sean, I like just getting home and doing nothing.”
That’s fine, but stop fretting getting rich or achieving crazy things. It’s ok to just go home, put your feet up and watch the TV; I’m just saying that most successful people don’t behave that way. I’m totally fine with people being chill, doing their 9 to 5 and hitting the tube. Most of these people can’t imagine balancing full time work, having their own business, having a hobby, sports teams, family time and nights with friends. It seems like a lot, but with practice, you’ll find you start yearning to find new projects and things to learn.
“But Sean, I’m going to work hard and die without ever having lived!”
I sure hope you don’t believe that. You want vacations, a nice home, less debt? Work hard to try and get ahead in life, don’t just try and get by in life. Sacrifices are necessary with hard work, but achievers are also the ones who can afford the big vacations, appreciate the time they have to spend with others, and know how to manage their time to do recreational things.