With hard work and dedication, you can achieve anything in life! I bet you heard some variation of this motto during your life. Maybe it came from your father, your mother, your school teacher or a famous business vlogger. #grinding #hustling #suffering and so on. No pain, no gain. Is it?
Here’s a fact. You can see a lot of successful people who had major breakthroughs while young and with limited experience. Here’s an example: Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley released her first book in 1818 She was 20. That book is called Frankenstein and it went on to be one of the most famous and well-written novels of all time. Disclaimer: I haven’t read the book or watched any movie on the theme.
Another example: I know people who are entrepreneurs for 20 or 30 years and they can barely make it. They work super hard, they are educated, up to date and focused. On another note, I have a friend who became an entrepreneur two years ago. Now he travels around the world, has a kick ass business and makes around $15.000 per month in profits. He works around 1 day per week, sometimes even less. He worked intensely in the first 6 – 9 months and that was enough for his business to take off.
Yeah, hard work can sometimes be the answer. But I believe that in a lot of cases it’s not. Do you want to travel around the world? Work hard! Do you want to have more times for your hobbies? Work hard! Do you want to write a great novel? Work hard! Do you want to land an acting gig in Hollywood? Work hard! Do you want to spend more time with your friends and family? Work hard! Do you want to be happy? Work hard!
In fact, sometimes working hard is the major blockage between you and your dreams. Sometimes you may need to work less.
- You need to work less if you want to travel and experience local cultures and lifestyles
- You need to work less to make new friends
- You need to work less to connect better with your family
- You need to work less to chase a new hobby or career.
- You need to work less to earn more. Yeah, that’s right. You may find the right levers instead: build a personal brand, systematize your business, partner up, delegate more, choose a better market, a better business, a better career. Billionaires don’t work 2783274323834 hours a day. Yeah, many of them are workaholics, but they typically don’t work over 24 hours a day.
Woohoo, I can work less and get more for my mind and soul? And for my bank account? That’s awesome, it sounds super easy! Well, that’s not entirely true. Here’s an unbelievable thing I’ve discovered when switching from workaholism to a normal schedule while increasing my income 5X. It’s not easy to work less! Yeah, you can read that again. It’s not easy to work less! Actually, making the transition to a work less mindset can be hard and stressful for your mind and ego. Here are two major patterns that you might encounter on your way (I know I did):
Limitation #1: if I work less I’ll starve to death. This is actually partially true. If you work less without changing what you work and how you work you may actually get evicted. Many people take the 4 Hour mantra and apply it in the wrong context. Let’s say right now I’m a designer and I make $5000 a month while working 160 hours / month. I want to make $5000 a month while working 20 hours / month for the same clients, in the same way. Well, that’s kind of dumb. You may upset your clients and loose your current revenue streams. On the other hand, if you build a personal brand or an audience, you sell consulting or you partner up that projection may become totally achievable. In other cases, you may need to make more radical changes, learn new stuff or open up a new type of business.
In my case, I was so addicted to the “work hard” limitation that I didn’t have the courage to start working on scalable or high-value projects. I stuck with the old get stuff done and get paid by the hour model. Guess what? I hit a plateau pretty quick and stayed there for a long period of time (not that long, just a couple of years). Nothing changed, no matter hard I worked. I was playing small because of my FEAR. Right now I’m involved in 3 different projects that can make a big difference in my life. I’m writing a book, starting a product business and building a personal brand as a design consultant. Any of these ventures has a real shot of changing my life in a big way. I can generate a bigger impact, earn more money and free up a lot of my time to travel, explore, play, create and bond with people. Not to say that the book project came straight from my soul and gets me so much energy and excitement. To work less and get better results you have to change something. Brother Einstein said it best:
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Albert Einstein
Limitation #2: choosing comfort over growth
Another trap I’ve encountered and saw in others: moving into a new venture half halfheartedly. This is even more subtle and dangerous than the first one. Let’s take a simple example. I want to build a personal brand as X. I feel deep in my heart that I’d like to write, record podcasts, appear on TV shows and speak on stage. But I’m afraid. So what do I do?
I stick to the same old same old familiar and known techniques. I’m bringing my fears and limitations into the new venture. Another example. I want to delegate. But I also want to have full control over the execution process. Nobody does it better than myself, afterward! So I’m choosing to do something new but I’m doing it in my old, familiar way. I let my fear to run the show. Often times in life we want something but we’re also afraid at the same time. When that happens it can be only one winner: YOU or the FEAR.
When we choose a new field but we’re refusing to try new stuff out, we’re blocking the Magic and Potential of the process. Yeah, it may be uncomfortable in the short run to make a bold change. It may be painful, stressing and you may loose your sense of reality. But you’ll also get familiar with the new situation sooner than you’d expect. And you’ll enjoy the benefits of your courage to choose growth over comfort.
A common thing I’ve noticed with the “hard workers” out there (myself included) is a strong anxiety towards change. The hard work serves as a defense mechanism to block out deeper emotions and fears. The harder I work, the less I have to face my emotions and those tough, messy, unpredictable moments in my life. The workaholic attempts to control life and environment around him through hard work. But that rarely works. It just kills the life’s magic and serendipity. For hard workers, 1+1 always equals 2. For people who dream 1 + 1 may equal 24. Or 8.473.829.
So, screw hard work! Let’s do magic instead!