Observations & meditations on the day-to-day
Working hard or hardly working?
Working hard or hardly working? We’ve all been there. We’ve all had that feeling that we’ve done too little when in fact we’ve done loads, and we’ve all had that feeling that we’ve done a mountain of work when in fact we have done very little. In self employment, this is a daily thought process…
Both scenarios are completely inevitable. Both scenarios will undoubtedly happen to everybody. However, being aware of this is a good step towards being able to manage it and negate the guilt that so many of us feel in both of these situations. I am definitely one of those people who believes in hard work, it’s just who I am, and other people are different and that’s ok. But that said, I do believe that working hard is a skill that we can learn, and that in itself is highly valuable.
Everyone talks about making sure you get exercise and eat a balanced diet, but why don’t we talk about mental enrichment and the value of learning how to work? If we regularly “train” our brains to work, then when we actually have to step up and work hard, it won’t feel nearly as exhausting as we think it is.
I’m not, by any means, saying that it is healthy to work hard and do nothing else. It is all about balance. However, I do think that there is a certain sense of outrage that people feel when asked to work hard and all I’m saying is that there is a lot of value in pushing our brains, understanding our limits, and working to overcome those limits rather than live our daily life hindered by them. Personal trainers tell you to push your body to stretch those limits and a lot of people feel good about going to the gym (eventually!). Yet, when asked to push our minds, we often find resistance, resentment and exhaustion.
At some point, if not many points, in our lives, we will be challenged by some form of work. We will either be challenged to work long hours, to puzzle through a tough problem, to work with somebody that we find difficult, to encounter something new and daunting. I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who hasn’t faced these challenges. To get through these challenges we have to kick things up a notch: we have to be able to keep functioning through those long hours or despite that difficult boss. That is a trained skill, you’re not just suddenly going to be able to do that overnight, and that is why I believe so strongly in exercising your brain just as you would exercise your body.
People sometimes think I’m absolutely absurd for thinking that working hard is actually beneficial, so here’s the explanation. I do NOT believe that hard work = burnout. I’m not undermining burnout; it’s certainly a real thing and being able to strike a work/life balance is one of the most important aspects of adulthood.
I’m not saying push beyond your limits, then keep going to the point of burnout (more on burnout another day…). I’m saying why don’t we think of pushing mental limits just as we understand the idea of pushing physical limits? There needn’t be a difference.
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