Work Smarter, Not Harder
The major obstacles people face in taking the approach to life and work mentioned above is their inability to meet their desired life goals even after working long hours. For a vast majority, a day and night slog allows them to make barely enough to make ends meet. Some others justify their slog stating that they work hard while they can, to reap the rewards at a later age. Such people work harder, taking overtime, working on holidays and remaining obsessed with networking and skill development training to the extent that family life becomes a bothersome distraction. In such a state affairs, creative pursuits or interest is the last thing on one’s mind. The result is stress; break down of family life, and overall discontent.
Another manifestation of trying to attain unrealistic goals or forgetting the end purpose of work is indulging in unethical conduct, such as lying, indulging in fraud, embezzlement, and other vices. Such actions invariably boomerang, and cause job loss, no prospects of re-employment, and maybe even prison time.
Understand that you do not live twice. Life is too short to waste on purposeless activities. Take that time out to take a hike through the woods, take a vacation on that mountain resort, spend quality time teaching your children. Adjust work around such activities, rather than the other way round.
The solution to do all this without compromising work is by working smarter rather than harder. Not earning enough within normal working hours to lead a standard life means that either your goals are unrealistic or unattainable and you need to revise them, or you are in a wrong profession or doing the wrong job, and need to change. Ways to make amends are many:
Seek out other options where you get more for the same efforts. For instance, if you work for $20 an hour, take time out to seek opportunities that may provide you with $40 an hour. Many people do not do this as they settle into a rut and fear upsetting the status quo. Overcome such resistance to change.
- Consider acquiring new skills for a new career that pays well. For instance, before competition and internet came, writers earned even $150 a page. This is no longer possible. The best approach is to opt for careers that remain recession proof and be resilient always, regardless of the state of the economy. But not everyone can have such a career. For others, leverage whatever works in the short to near term, and be prepared to change. For instance, if recession tanks the prospects of employment in your career, try something else, even if temporarily, before demand for your core competence resurfaces.
- Understand the supply chain of what you do. Even if you are in employment, consider your position and the value you add in the supply chain. You will understand that someone in the supply chain takes a bigger cut than the rest for adding the same or little value. In your case, it could be your boss. Evaluate whether you can take such position. For instance, if you have the skills, ability, drive, ambition, resources and risk appetite to replicate your boss’s business model and start your own business.
Manage time well. Very often, the reason for having to work hard, with overtime or job related stress, is procrastination, not setting priorities at work, and other poor time management practices. Doing things promptly without procrastination, setting priorities right, putting first things first, and other efficiency tips take the stress out of work.
- Leverage the power of technology. Technology allows doing more work using lesser time, improves efficiency, and throws open many opportunities not possible before. Only rarely does someone who harnesses emerging technology fail to meet life goals.
The preparation for pursuing career success should ideally start at high school level. However, as the adage goes, “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the next best time is today." Therefore, if wrong education or career choices so far make attaining life goals unrealistic, do not despair. Start now, and revise goals accordingly.