WORK HARD OR WORK SMART OR WHAT???
Ever since I was a little girl I was thought that if I want to succeed I have to work hard with full dedication, commitment, give my best and concentrate to achieve the given objective at any cost. I followed that path for 10 years and it didn’t bring me happiness. I couldn’t understand what was wrong?
One day I came to NLP training where trainer told us to do one simple exercise. We just had to imagine how we want to end up our life and thought about where we were on that road. When I visualized the picture in my head, I felt so sad. It was hard to accept the fact that instead of following my heart, I was following other people’s expectations. I learned in a minute Carl Jung’s concept of rather being whole than good and realized that working hard while travelling the wrong road is not a good way to live my life.
It inspired me to take a vacation, so I went to see my old friend. While dinning in a nice small restaurant surrounded by beautiful landscape, he asked me: „Mirta, what do you want to do in your life?“ I said: „I don’t know“ I like learning, traveling, reading books, writing, telling stories, but honestly, I don’t want to work“ He sat quietly and after a few minutes (that seemed like two hours) significantly raised his eyebrows and answered: „But if you don’t want to work, become a teacher“. You will never work until the rest of your life. I thought that was a great idea. I will not work! I will teach and teaching in my map was not working (he knew me that well). I felt big relief and decided to become self-employed.
That was a revelation. I thought: I will just do what I love and it will bring me happiness and wealth. Very soon I realized business doesn’t work like that. Although I put in it all my heart, dedication, commitment, gave my best and did everything I could to achieve success, costs were way too high. I worked night and day and felt miserable. My body was telling me I am getting out of fuel and it didn’t feel good. I even stopped enjoying doing what I love most – teaching.
I realized that I have to learn how to better organize my life and found myself asking a question: „What do I want to be in five years? “ The answer was very simple: „ I just want to be happy“. At that point there was a popular concept of working smart vs. working hard. I thought that was a great idea. I will just work smart and finally become happy. But, in real life it just didn’t work for me. I worked smart and hard and was still exhausted.
It made me feel confused: If working hard is not the answer and working smart just some crazy concept that is hardly applicable in real life, what is the solution? I decided to take a whole summer to solve that puzzle. At one moment while sitting near sea and looking at sun raise I remembered my teacher from NYC. He was travelling all around a world and working really hard, but at the same time he looked really energized and happy. I thought about the difference between us and the difference was quite obvious. He had much bigger resilience than I did.
So, I asked myself how I could become more resilient. I started to read all the articles on that topic and shortly they all said similar things. The first step I had to do was to change my thoughts:
- – Develop a more positive attitude: by hanging out with positive people, stop catastrophizing and learn to embrace change
- – Improve my problem solving approach and learn from my mistake
- – Stop thinking of setback as a sign that I am somehow unworthy, that the world is unfair and that things will always be that way
- – Constantly learn and seek knowledge
- – Learn to concentrate and focus (no multitasking)
- – Learn to embrace and manage my emotions
- – Meditate
Another advice was to change my actions
- – Find purpose in life (I knew that)
- – Maintain a strong social network.
- – Find a mentor.
- – Take care of myself
- – Work toward my goals and be a person of action
And the last but not less important to stay strong:
- – Stay physically fit.
- – Nourish my creativity.
- – Cultivate my sense of humor.
- – Manage stress well.
- – Make peace with my past.
It didn’t look easy, but it was worth trying. First I decided to find a mentor. It helped me a lot. Then, I decided to start exercising at least 10 minutes a day and it made me feel stronger. As a therapist I had obligation to work on my issues, so I went to regular coaching sessions. Afterwards, I realize I have to start working with more positive people and decided to surround myself with people who inspired me and still do. I also realized I cannot do it by myself and find a dedicated team. In the meanwhile, I spent some time to learn great focusing techniques and built good daily practices (enough sleep and good diet).
I cannot say I reached my final goal, but it feels good on the road. And I don’t care anymore if I work hard or work smart. Each day I just do my best to stay happy.