When Hard Work is not Enough

Hard work is a requirement in life – not just in our jobs, but also in our relationships. I always believed in the saying that “no great thing can be achieved without great sacrifice”. I viewed my losses and challenges as passing phases that would eventually lead me to where I want to be. However, there were moments when I felt frustrated and exhausted because hard work seemed to be doing nothing.

If you’ve ever felt this way, you’re not alone.

At some point, you will wonder why your efforts appear to be in vain; it’s as if the world has conspired against you despite your best intentions. However, don’t quit just yet! Hard work at this time may not be enough, BUT there are still things you could do.

1. Reflect On Your Present Life

We live such busy lifestyles today but we barely have time to sit down and think about where we’re heading. Yes, you want to be happy and successful: but is the path you’re on now leading you in that direction? Are life’s obstacles making you feel disappointed or discouraged? How long have you been stuck in a rut?

You can’t move on unless you first acknowledge that you have a problem and that you might need someone’s help to resolve it.

I remember feeling this way not so long ago. I knew my hard work was not leading me where I want to go. In fact, my persistence was digging me into a hole of disappointments, missed chances, and anxiety.

Although your schedule’s fully booked, carve time for yourself to silently think about what you could be doing wrong. It could be a few minutes before bedtime, or during the early mornings just before the sun rises. Choose the most convenient time that works for you.

2. Write Down Your Goals

Sean Covey, son of famous author and educator Dr. Stephen Covey, mentioned in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens” that writing down your goals makes them twice as likely to come true. Why is that? Writing makes things look and feel more concrete. Plus, if you read them every day, you’ll feel more empowered to make them a reality

3. Plan A and Plan B

I really believe in hard work. It’s how we learn values like diligence, patience, and gratitude. Inasmuch as effort into something is important though, WHERE we invest our hard work is even more important.

Are you familiar with the parable of the woodcutter in the woods? A man stopped him one day as he was chopping down a tree. The man pointed out that he should spend some time sharpening his saw to complete his work faster. The woodcutter became angry and told him off. The sun set that day but the woodcutter was still not finished in cutting down that single tree.

The lesson of the story is this: don’t just work harder – work SMARTER. Had the woodcutter spent several minutes sharpening his tools, he would’ve finished his work in half the time and produced more results. Now that you have your life goals, think about how you will achieve them. Have a plan. Create alternative answers. You will undoubtedly encounter roadblocks on your way to fulfilling those dreams. If that happens, what will you do?

This applies to your problems now, too. Do you have issues at work wherein you’re putting in a lot of effort for minimum rewards? Are you working hard in keeping a partner happy but your needs are still not met? Acknowledge your predicament and think of ways to solve them.

One Day at a Time

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

Sometimes, hard work is not enough to get us to where we want to be. We also need honesty and humility, to admit to ourselves that we’re doing something wrong. We need to be clever, to come up with answers to these problems. If your efforts are not effective, stop, think, and try something else! Do it in small steps. Be patient and take it one day at a time.

Don’t be afraid to change course. YOU are the captain of your ship and no one else. So direct your sails to the horizon only you can see.

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