Do you find that you sometimes overwork yourself?
I do. Time and time again.
Why is that?
I have goals, as I’m sure many of you do, and they aren’t idle wishes. I want to achieve those goals. And in the moments when my goals feel as if they’re drifting further and further away, I decide that in order to get back on track I need to increase the amount of work I’m doing.
This almost always has the opposite effect of what I wanted. Sure, I start off great, but by the end of week one, I’m grouchy, exhausted, irritable, and frustrated. Still, I often don’t get the message that it isn’t working—because “perseverance” and everything—and I continue to overwork myself for at least another few weeks.
When I finally accept that the mountain of extra hours hasn’t actually gotten me that much closer to the peak, I revert to what I was doing beforehand. I accept that I was doing enough, more than enough, and that I need to exercise patience and resilience.
Of course, sometimes you do need to change things up a bit, but I think a lot of the time, at least for me, what you need to do is accept that you’re doing the best that you can and just get on with it.
Another reason why I end up overdoing it is that I look at what other people have done to achieve their goals and dreams. Whilst I think this can be beneficial, I think that such comparisons without the proper level of perspective makes you feel as though you are not doing enough to achieve your own goals.
It seems as though everybody who has made it big has worked fifteen-hour days, seven days a week for three years, living in a dingy basement with nothing but cheap noodles to eat. You feel if you’re not doing that, if you’re not working relentlessly on your goals day and night, if you’re not suffering that much—or at all—then clearly you don’t want it enough, and you won’t get anywhere near accomplishing your goals.
People wear their suffering like a badge of honour. “I had to go through this, this, this, this, AND this to get to where I am today.” Because these people attribute their success to those fifteen hour shifts, you then endeavour to do something similar. You try to emulate them with your own version of a fifteen-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week shift.
As I know from personal experience, this can easily result in frustration and exhaustion.
Accomplishing goals is hard work, and working fifteen-hour days might work for some—it might work for many—but it doesn’t work for me. I doubt it ever will.
For the short term, yes, I could work crazy hours. For a few weeks, a few months throughout the year, but in the long term, I know that I wouldn’t be able to sustain it.
Those who work hard at a sensible rate of speed are rarely put on the front pages because it’s boring. It’s not an interesting story. We want blood, sweat, toil, and misery. We don’t want to hear that you had time to celebrate all your children’s birthdays and Christmas, too. We don’t want to know that you made it to date night every month with your other half. Nope. Date nights and other normalities are cancelled when you’re reaching for the stars. Suffering is all we want to hear about.
I happen to think that there are more ways to succeed—not that I can prove that to you, because, like I said, we don’t really hear about those. However, I think you can work hard whilst getting on with the rest of your life, whilst doing other things that make you happy, or sad, or indifferent. Life is for living. Not just for working.
Take that bit of advice into the New Year. It might help when making all those grandiose plans that people tend to make in January.
Good luck with your pursuits, and I’ll see you bright and early next year.