“Work hard now so you can have it easy later.”
The problem with that idea is that it places overdue importance on some arbitrary milestone – a certain promotion or some net worth number.
As long as we’re focused on solving problems that matter, we are never set. We don’t ever get to rest easy.
But, with some luck and accumulated privilege, putting in the work now does make it easier to create the sort of optionality that enables us to direct that hard work onto areas that feel less like work and more like play.
The key to doing work that matters to you is combining focus, intensity and hard work. Focus is your strategy and it ensures you are spending time aligned with your priorities. Intensity is the tactic that maximizes the quality of the time you spend. Hard work is the final step – it is how you execute on your priorities. I tend to write a lot about focus and intensity – they are hard to get consistently right. I expect to continue doing so in the new year.
However, just for today, I’d like to focus on the execution – working very hard. There are many things I am looking forward to learning and doing in 2016. There are a few interesting projects coming up, many new skills to learn, and many interesting people to meet and relationships to strengthen. However, I know that there will always be one companion as I make my way through 2016 – hard work. And, in some way or the other, every thing I am looking forward to in 2016 will involve hard work.
Nearly every good thing that has happened to me has happened because of the work that was put in. Sure, there have been massive dollops of luck along the way. But, even the luck has had a way of showing up after I’ve put in the work. There’s often talk of hard work versus smart work – but, in my experience, it is only possible to discern what is smart after you’ve put in the time.
So, if there is a message to myself this new year, it will be to simply enjoy the process of working very hard. I am looking forward to doing that and I am grateful I am blessed with the health, people and circumstances to be able to do so.
A good career takes hard work.
A good relationship takes more hard work.
A good life and happiness takes some more hard work.
Why, even a great vacation requires a lot of hard work.
True happiness and hard work come together. We can never stop working hard if we want to live good lives. We just shift the focus of our hard work from our careers to our families to our personal projects and so on. The challenges only get harder and never ever stop. But, on the upside, once we learn to work hard, we also learn to prioritize better, focus harder and bring more of ourselves to our lives.
So, we’re left with two choices – attempt to find the short cuts and escape the work or embrace the hard work totally, live well, and bring more of ourselves to the world.
We’re successful when we stop seeing the first choice and we’re happy when we embrace the second.