This is NOT a click-bait article. This is one of the most important articles I believe I have ever written.
There are many people who work their asses off each day only to find that all they have really achieved is burnout and resentment for where they are in life.
We all know this person…
The guy (or girl) at one of your jobs who simply worked himself to death.
He was there early and left way late.
He did everything almost perfectly and dedicated his entire life to being great at the job he had.
He exhausted so much energy, but yet, he was the one you would hear complaining about how they were underpaid, underappreciated and taken advantage of.
The hard-work had left them with above average, but still small, yearly raises and little else.
Why is this?
How can you work so hard and still be only slightly “better off” than those around you doing half the work? It can be argued that those doing half the work are actually the smart ones. At least they are getting paid more “fairly” right?
It can be argued that those doing half the work are actually the smarter ones. At least they are getting paid more “fairly” right?
Well, the workaholic has, ironically, gotten where he is because of mental laziness.
Mental laziness is the silent killer of success. It hides itself behind long hours and repetitive labor, leaving the workaholic thinking he will surely achieve stellar results eventually.
With this approach, success will likely not come. There is little to no progress because he is not working on the right things.
He has buried himself in his work to shield himself from the harder decisions such as:
“Why am I doing this?”
“Is this the best use of my time?”
“Am I being productive, or busy?
“Is this the line of work that will get me where I want to go?”
“Am I doing this to avoid something else?”
This is a modern tragedy.
As much as we respect the blue collar work ethic that our country was founded on (let me emphasize was), it is not enough on its own to achieve amazing levels of success.
This work ethic is part of what is needed for success, but it is missing other vital components.
Purpose, Focus and Planning.
Hard work without these is like running a marathon without markers and a map. You can't make up for your lack of directions simply by running more.
If you're “lucky,” this brute force approach could get you up to middle management (God forbid you still are working a regular job).
You will, however, find yourself out of place and trying to do everything as opposed to thinking critically and delegating tasks as you should.
You will plateau.
This will lead to years of stagnant career growth, even though you will be “working” harder than ever.
The most dangerous part of this whole thing is that people convince themselves that they are on the right track to success. They all but turn their minds off to the opportunities around them and areas for potential growth and innovation.
Here are some of the common lazy practices that we can find ourselves in, even though we are “working” a lot.
Note: Not all workaholics do these. Some do none, others do all of them, but most do at least a couple of them.
1. They don't set relevant priorities
Effective work requires preparation.
The goal isn't to do a lot of things, but to do the right things.
Do you ever skip stretching before you exercise? It is similar to this. You are skipping the boring stuff and just diving into what is more interesting.
Without priorities, efficiency goes to the toilet.
2. They don't abide by their priorities
Setting priorities means nothing if we don't abide by them.
All tasks are not created equally. This is why people will create huge to-do lists and check off most of the items but still be incredibly ineffective.
There may be one task that far outweighs the others in terms of pay off. Your job is to find out what this task is and do it first.
One of my favorite books was written around this concept. If you want to read it, it is called “The One Thing” by Gary Keller.
3. They “work” instead of making hard choices.
Have you ever needed to make a decision that was difficult and noticed the weight of it? Really considered it I mean.
The mental stress of making hard choices releases in us the same chemicals responsible for our “fight or flight” response. This is a physiological reaction in the body which can have a negative effect on our mood and energy levels.
This can be just as strenuous if not more so than other forms of work.
4. They “work” to avoid problems outside of work
For some people, work is more comfortable than dealing with other problems in their lives.
Working is an easy excuse to avoid the rest of the world. It can allow someone to hide away without too much grief from others.
It is hard to villainize a hard working person. It isn't hard though to villainize someone who is avoiding difficulty. That is what this is.
5. They don't set clear purpose and measurable goals
It takes energy to think critically. To ask yourself “why” each time you work is hard.
Workaholics approach tasks with brute force instead of precision and finesse. For every piece of valuable work they complete, they will create an equal amount of “fluff” work that just kept them running in place.
6. They stop learning new things
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, not the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” –Charles Darwin
Have you ever met someone who seemed to know absolutely everything about their job but little else? There is nothing wrong with knowing one thing inside and out, but over-learning must be balanced with a certain amount of growth in other areas.
7. They ignore their health
When you spend time in one area, you are sacrificing time that could be spent in another.
Workaholism has been connected to a laundry list of illnesses as well. It is the singular mindset of workaholics that causes them to overlook other important areas of their lives.
Aside from the medical risks involved, if you aren't taking care of yourself, you are not functioning at optimal levels. Ignoring your health is not helping you succeed, it is making you sick and less effective.
- There is more to work than output.
- Mental work is just as difficult as all other forms of work.
- Develop mindfulness and an awareness to why you do what it is you do.
- If you want to learn more about productivity, check out “The One Thing” by Gary Keller.