Everywhere you look, you see messages that say you should work hard to be successful, but what if I told you hard work isn't the best way. Would you believe me?
I'm going to go further and say that hard work is working against you in some situations.
But if you worked to your strengths, then the work isn't hard, but the results are the same. So I call this a win-win situation.
If you just commit to the hard work, then there are some pretty awful consequences. Two powerful reasons why hard work isn't the best way is because you:
- Don't do what you love to do. Instead, you take on work out of duty – hello stress and burnout, and
- Impact your earning potential
So, let me explain in more detail.
Why People Believe Hard Work Is The Only Way
Like me, you've probably been brought up with the belief that to get on in life, you must work hard. How the ethic of hard work is positive.
An indication of having good ethics and values, which make you a jolly nice person.
I've seen many job adverts, and even job descriptions include a statement along the lines of wanting a hard worker.
Seriously, it sounds as if they want the reassurance that no lazy people apply!
But what does this actually mean? Is it the notion that hard work is virtuous and is the only thing that deserves to be rewarded?
Give me a break. Hard work isn't the best way when most companies look for employees who will make them successful. I don't think hard work has a lot to do with it. As one sales director once said to me, we pay on results, not how much effort someone went to.
Now, I'm not saying that hard work doesn't have a place. But I do believe it is misleading.
Why ‘'Hard Work’' Is Misleading
If too much emphasis is placed on hard work, it can be confusing. Especially if what you are doing doesn't actually feel like hard work. For you, doing something might be easy.
Because when you work using your unique strengths, things are easier and quicker to do.
Does this mean that you don't have a good work ethic? NO!!
Reason 1: Why Hard Work Isn't The Best Way – Unhappiness & Stress
If you've lived with the belief that working hard is the measurement for personal success, you may be working too hard.
And let's face it, when most of us think about working hard, we believe it involves:
- Long hours
- No breaks
- And definitely no fun!
Despite the sentiment, that hard work pays off, working smarter, not harder, may be a better way to go.
When you use your strengths, it makes it possible to work smarter rather than harder, but many people don't understand the value of strength-based work.
After years of being told hard work is the ticket to success, they ditch what comes easy out of a misguided belief. As a result, many people don't pursue careers or activities they love because it doesn't fulfil the perceived hard work criteria.
Or, they engage in gruelling schedules and work activities that zap their energy and with it any joy they may have felt along the way.
As a result, they:
- don't do what they love
- get completely stressed out and
- end up feeling unhappy and unwell.
Solution: Work Smarter, Not Harder
Working smarter rather than harder is practical. Therefore, it makes sense to choose to spend your time doing things that are easy for you or something you enjoy. Remember that life is about having some fun!
I'm not suggesting we should all become lazy and forget about showing initiative or drive. I simply mean that if you chose strength-based work, you could positively impact your life.
Do you really want to do work that drains your soul or leads you to the brink of exhaustion or burnout? Really, there is nothing to be gained by that. Hard work isn't the best way if you make yourself ill.
Over the years, I've spoken to many women who don't do the work they love because they felt a sense of duty to pursue what they're doing. In other words, they are trying to keep other people happy. I'm not passing judgement here as I did the very same thing, so I know what it's like.
All I ask is, please don't let this be you.
Because ultimately, you sacrifice your happiness for environments that are toxic. And yes, there really is such a thing as a toxic work environment. So just as you try to avoid toxic relationships, you should avoid toxic workplaces.
Consequently, hard work isn't the best way.
Reason 2: Why Hard Work Isn't The Best Way – Financial Implication
When you work smarter rather than harder, it can have a big impact on your financial situation.
Because contrary to popular belief, hard work does not always generate the biggest financial reward.
I would like to wring the neck of the person who says anything worth having must be hard to get. You can strive for something and have a focused goal to achieve it, but don't believe that there is a price of happiness to be paid.
I'd like to suggest that there is a way to earn income easily – and this is possible when you operate from a strength-based perspective. Doing activities that come easily to you can help you generate more income,
Don't settle for something that you believe you should be doing, even if the work is paid well. Even the best-paid job is never enough when you're unhappy. Besides, your unique strength could lead you to become super efficient at a higher-level role, perhaps doing something more specialised.
Are you sacrificing your ability to earn more money by working less? Is there something that you could do quicker and easier than your current source of income? There are ways to work easier and still have an incredible work ethic.
Depending on your frame of reference, you may be working harder than you need to be. You're definitely working too hard if you are close to exhaustion or completely stressed out.
Don't wait until you become so stressed you can't function. Instead, take positive action now to stop it in its tracks. If that means cutting back on your work or looking for another job that is more suited to your strengths, then please do that.
Examine how hard you are working and whether or not it positively impacts your life. While particular forms of working hard are admirable, some are not.
Working smart is clearly preferable to working hard in every case.
Really, hard work isn't the best way.