In a world where we can get almost everything we need with a few taps on our smartphones, people believe that hard work has become overrated. You’ve probably heard that you should work smarter, not harder. But is this true? Is it even good advice?
Back in the ‘90s, when I grew up, I knew all of my friends’ phone numbers by heart. I was able to instantly recall 20-plus numbers without getting confused. Nowadays, I barely remember my own phone number.
Technology has enabled us to communicate faster and go about our human affairs with increasing speed and efficiency. And, yes, it seems like we’re building smarter solutions as well, but it all comes at a price. We’re handing over our problem-solving capabilities to technology.
What do you imagine will happen when we can no longer do anything by ourselves? What will happen when we rely on technology for even the most basic activities, like tying our shoes or brushing our teeth? Who’s actually getting smarter in this scenario: people or technology?
When we praise technology and the concept of “working smarter,” we forget that humanity’s most significant achievements have come from hard work. Behind that fantastic technology, the latest scientific discoveries, or that nutritious meal you just put on the table, there are hundreds of people working hard behind the scenes to make it all happen. People who wake up at 4 a.m. to deliver fresh fruit to the supermarket where you get your morning breakfast. Engineers who spend countless nights awake creating the algorithms that enable us to make faster and more intuitive Google searches. And men and women who drive hundreds of miles to deliver your latest Amazon purchase.
Everything that’s worthwhile in life involves hard work
Hard work is the foundation of human societies. Everything that’s worthwhile in life requires a certain level of sacrifice and commitment. Just think about the meaningful things in your life: the house you live in, the children you’ve raised, the artwork that decorates your walls. It’s all the result of hard work.
So, here’s the deal: We have to embrace hard work and treat it as our ally to get everything we want in life.
Do you find it hard to commit to goals when hardships get in the way? Do you get frustrated by hard work and want to give up too soon?
If the answer is “yes” to either of these questions, you need to shift your mentality around hard work. Here are five tips to help you embrace it:
- Pursue goals that are impossible to give up.
When we embark on projects we don’t like or find worthwhile, it becomes much easier to give up when we encounter hardships. Who’s motivated to work hard when it involves something you don’t enjoy?
That’s why it is crucial to define activities in your daily life that have a purpose and are worth pursuing. When you want something to happen so much—when your goal is impossible to give up—the work that goes into it isn’t relevant anymore.
- Remember that success is 99% perspiration.
American inventor Thomas Edison once said that success is “1% inspiration and 99% perspiration,” and he’s absolutely right. Talent alone isn’t enough to become successful, especially in modern times. With over 7 billion people inhabiting the planet, it’s become increasingly difficult to attract attention. Every day, we see hundreds of talented people casting themselves on social media and TV, hoping to get noticed and go viral.
The reality is that good luck tends to favor people who work hard. People who deliver great work, consistently and over long periods of time, have a higher chance of attaining long-lasting success and bringing real contributions to societies.
- Understand your brain.
As humans, we’re hardwired to be lazy. Researchers at the University of British Columbia found that human brains tend toward sedentary behaviors; our brains need to work hard to shift from neutral into drive.
After a busy day at work, it feels natural to come home and throw yourself on the couch to watch your favorite Netflix show—rather than putting on your running shoes and going for a jog. We literally need to “fight” with ourselves to choose the latter option.
Don’t let this fact discourage you. Even if our lazy nature is a scientifically proven fact, what still holds true is that we ultimately have the power to decide what we’ll do at any given moment. Don’t welcome laziness or let it define who you are. Make a conscious decision to engage in action. The next time you feel like hitting the couch after a long day, make the conscious decision to go for a walk instead. You’ll realize that once you’re out walking, you’ll feel more energized, happier, and you’ll want to repeat it. Try it out!
- Believe in yourself.
Avoiding hard work can also be a byproduct of not having enough confidence. When we feel confident about ourselves, we channel that energy into our actions. We’re ready to dive in and work hard. In contrast, when we feel fearful or insecure, we act shy, rigid, and aren’t motivated to achieve big things.
Believe in yourself and your capabilities. There is no reason to doubt them. Make use of that vital energy and force that already sits within you.
- Build your resilience.
Even when we have all the energy in the world and are working hard, there will be times when things simply don’t go our way. Projects fail, relationships break apart, and no one can predict how life will turn out next. That’s why people who work hard understand that building resilience is critical. A resilient person is capable of remaining calm and alert, even in the worst of times.
One of the best ways to develop resilience is to put yourself out there and expose your work. Experience firsthand rejections and disappointments. The more battle scars you accumulate, the more your “resilience muscle” will grow. You’ll learn to detach yourself from the perception of failure. When you’re learning something new about yourself or a situation, there is no failure—only learning. This realization will power you to keep going until success becomes inevitable.
So, the next time you hear that hard work isn’t necessary for a healthy, fulfilling, and successful life, think twice.
Written by Paola Knecht.