I worked hard in my first business because I never knew how to work smart, not hard.
I did well financially but still, I didn’t work smart enough.
Today, I’ll explain how to increase output without breaking your back.
Check out the companion podcast episode if you don’t want to read:
My story of working hard
In 2005, I created my first business: a Russian translation agency.
I would wake up early, walk the dog, kiss my wife and son, and go to work at 5 am.
And I would return around 9 pm.
When I had urgent translation projects, I would sit translating for 18 hours straight.
Just quick unhealthy snacks.
On average, I worked about 90 hours per week for about 14 years.
With this hard work came two results:
I felt happy, probably at a level 8 out of 10.
- I loved what I was doing because I’m passionate about languages and translation.
- And as a workaholic, hard work made me happy.
I built a solid business employing several people.
And I was doing quite well financially.
Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote:
I’m a great believer in hard work, grinding it out, and not stopping till it’s done.
Realization 1: I worked hard but not smart enough
Yet, here comes the big “BUT.”
I worked hard all right, but did I work smart?
Say, I had a press release to translate.
At the same time, I had to prepare for an upcoming translation conference.
And I would always choose to translate the press release, even though I could delegate it to a colleague.
And I’d miss out on the opportunities for marketing and growing my business that the conference presented.
A life coach Pam Blanchard said:
Working hard has little importance unless there’s value in the work that you’re doing.
Anything we do hard in our life should fuel us, not deplete us.
I love Stephen Covey‘s metaphor for this:
Climb the ladder of success but check if it’s leaning against the right wall.
Realization 2: “Get rich quick” mindset
Still, there is a second big “BUT” on top of the first one.
Yes, I should’ve worked smarter.
BUT it doesn’t mean that I should’ve not worked hard.
People tend to misinterpret this principle.
They believe smart work is more important than hard work.
They see other people get rich quickly and it looks like a result of smart work alone.
Like writing a hit song.
But what they don’t see is years of hard work that came before writing that one song.
How to work smart, not just hard
Hoping to succeed by working smart and avoiding hard work is a bad idea.
It devalues hard work.
But working hard without thinking is just as bad.
See, they are both important.
And we need to hit the sweet spot.
To do so, we can discuss our strategy with a devil’s advocate—as a sanity check:
- a parent
- a friend
- a mentor
- a coach
- an accountability partner
In my example, they would’ve told me to invest hard work into growing the business.
That’s how I could’ve gone from 8 points to 10 points on the happiness scale.
My first tip is to work smart, not just hard: have the right strategy for your business.
Second, make regular appointments with a mentor to review your strategy.
How to work smart, not hard with coaching
If you need help understanding how to work smart, not hard, check out my life coaching services.
You will increase performance at work while also enjoying your leisure time more.
You’ll love your work and life balance.
You’ll make your family happy by spending more quality time with them.
Here’s a link for you to contact me.