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This Is Why Hard Work Is Not Essential to Achieving Success

This Is Why Hard Work Is Not Essential to Achieving Success

Everyone thinks that hard work is the secret to success. But is it? What does it mean to work hard anyway? People really struggle with ways to define it. Plus there seem to be more compelling factors at play. And if you neglect those fundamental factors that contribute to your overall success, you’ll end up sabotaging it. Sometimes we forget the things that shape our journey the most are largely overlooked.

Consider the following factors, which demonstrate why hard work alone is not essential to success:

1. Because working smarter is more useful than working harder

Working hard may be a waste of time, especially if you’re not getting results. In fact, real estate mogul, Chris Leavitt, says that working smarter is a proactive strategy that sets pros apart. Very early in his career, he realized that time is a non-negotiable, non-renewable resource and people waste a lot of it. By working smarter, he discovered creative ways to achieve greater results without wasting time, compromising his integrity, or sacrificing the bottom-line.

“Work smarter; not harder.”
Chris Leavitt, Star of Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing Miami”

2. Because you need support

Cultivating strong relationships is vital. No man is an island to himself, even when he wants to be. Serial entrepreneur, Richard Branson, says that success in business is all about making connections. And he would know. He’s made a lot of great ones. Without the support of others who can help you to successfully pull projects forward, it can be very difficult to reach deadlines, relieve stress and expand your reach.

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“To be successful in business, you need to connect and collaborate and delegate.”
Richard Branson

3. Because you have to overcome fear

Fear can be a serious blockage to your success. How do you get around it? Learn to manage and overcome it. Real estate mogul and business expert, Barbara Corcoran, was not always the confident public speaker that she is today. When she was younger, she was terrified to speak publicly—she stuttered—and suffered extreme embarrassment. But she knew that the best way to overcome her fear was to confront it. She forced herself to accept numerous speaking engagements so that she could become better. And guess what? She did.

“Embrace your fears by confronting them.”
Barbara Corcoran

4. Because your appearance matters

“Despite the established acceptance of casual attire at many companies, there has never been a business casual dress code, dress-down days, or casual Friday option at Black Enterprise,” says Earl G. Graves, Sr., American entrepreneur, publisher, philanthropist, and founder of the Black Enterprise Magazine. While people don’t like to admit it, your physical appearance is a reflection of your commitment to excellence and definitely influences the way that others perceive you and thus impacts your trajectory for success.

“Your appearance is still the first and most impactful way that you communicate who you are and determine how you are treated.”
Earl G. Graves, Sr.

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5. Because you need a compelling vision

American life coach and self-help author, Tony Robbins, famously teaches that creating and executing the ultimate vision for your life matters: These concepts are critical to how you navigate the path to success. And he would know. Despite humble beginnings and from a young age, Tony was very clear on how he wanted to live his life and created a compelling vision for how he could achieve it. It got him up early and kept him up late. His vision has translated into enormous career and financial success, as Tony has helped individuals all around the world to achieve peak performance and realize their wildest dreams. He was also named in Forbes magazine’s 2007 “Celebrity 100” list, among other enviable accolades.

“To create an extraordinary quality of life, you must create a vision that’s not only obtainable, but that is sustainable.”
Anthony Robbins

6. Because happiness matters

Without happiness, it’s pretty difficult to develop the desire to achieve anything. Success, then, rests on your capacity to embrace happiness on a visceral level. Jim Rohn, considered America’s foremost business philosopher, taught strategies for improving our lives based on the principles of gratitude and happiness. He drew on guiding principles from the reality of his own life, which inspired others to embrace his insight on actuating personal development. He will always be remembered for his larger than life contributions to the industry.

“Happiness and success in life are not the result of what we have, but rather of how we live. What we do with the things we have makes the biggest difference in the quality of life.”
Jim Rohn
1930-2009

7. Because you need to be consistent

Doing something once or twice—even when putting forth enormous effort—is usually not enough to yield results. But when you’re consistent, more often than not, you’ll see the fruits of your labor come to fruition. The Rock has mastered this principle. He knows that eating one healthy meal or doing one killer workout won’t lead to the physique of your dreams. No matter what your goals may be, being consistent is the key to achieving them. There’s simply no way around it.

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“Succccess isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.”
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

8. Because you have to ignore the cynics

It’s unfortunate, but the road to success is filled with cynics and cynicism. If you want to maintain focus and achieve a higher purpose, you cannot afford to be distracted by the muck and mire of other people’s belief systems. Most important is what you believe to be true for yourself. Barack Obama, the first Black President of the United States of America, demonstrated through winning two controversial elections that ignoring the cynics was quite a powerful vehicle for success. If he hadn’t, it would have been difficult to inspire the country to believe in his leadership and cast their beliefs at the ballot.

“Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom.”
President Barack Obama

9. Because failure is part of success

No matter how committed you are to achieving success, there will setbacks, roadblocks, and challenges of varying proportion. But failures, however they show up, are not indicators of your inability to achieve. They are, however, par for the course when achievement is on the horizon. Better to embrace and learn from them than be crushed by their inescapable existence. Author, economist, and Financial Times columnist, Tim Hartford, teaches that by acknowledging and confronting our failures, we get the chance to overcome our egos and create opportunities for learning and greater success. He’s lived by these principles and his success bears witness to the credibility of his journey.

“Few of our own failures are fatal.”
Tim Hartford

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10. Because success requires sacrifice

Everyone wants to achieve success, but few are willing to sacrifice what it takes to get it. American Olympian, Gabrielle Douglas, knows a lot about sacrifice. After all, she’s spent most of her life preparing for competitive gymnastics, a feat difficult for even the best of athletes. To be at her best, she needed to follow rigorous training regimens and an equally strict diet. She also spent a significant amount of time away from her family to train before participating in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Of course she’s had plenty of good days, but she’s also sacrificed a lot. Are you willing to sacrifice to get to the top?

“I had to face a lot coming through this journey, a lot of sacrifices, difficulties, challenges, and injuries.”
Gabrielle Douglas

While hard work may be the default measurement for achieving success, there are clearly more compelling factors at play. And they shouldn’t be overlooked. What other factors have you found relevant along the path to your success?

Featured photo credit: A team of construction workers working hard to recover the economy. via shutterstock.com

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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