5 Reasons Why You Are Working Harder Than You Need To

photo credit: Jillian Corinne via photopin cc
If you ask the average person if they work hard, the responsible ones will usually say yes. But have you ever questioned whether you are working harder than necessary? 

Sure...when you are asked to redo something for a frivolous reason, or someone wastes times...sure you might think you are working harder than necessary.

Larry Page, the CEO of Google, caused a company wide, and subsequently a nation wide discussion when he said "We all might be working harder than necessary."

Have you ever really stopped to think if you are working harder than necessary?

In order to answer that question you have to be clear on one very important definition. What is necessary?

I read an article recently called Here's Why People Work Like Crazy Even When They Have Everything They Need.

Naturally I was curious. I had my ideas about why people work like crazy. Money. Prestige. To buy stuff. Retirement. But this article pointed to a study that said if given the choice, people will "forego leisure to work and earn beyond their means." The researchers call this "overearning" and said people do "mindless accumulation" just because we can.

The experiment for this hypothesis was simple. Participants were given the choice to listen to soothing music (which represent leisure) and dissonance music (which represented work). When they choose noise they received a chocolate but they couldn't eat the chocolate.  The people who "earned" more chocolate than they could eat were considered "overearners". It's an interesting study. Go read the original study here.

But back to you and my question. What is necessary? The 5 reasons people work harder than they need is based misunderstanding the definition of need.

5 Reasons You Are Working Harder Than You Need To

1. You mistake busyness for accomplishment.

Everyone is busy these days. Kids are busy. Adults are busy. And leaders are definitely busy. But busy doesn't mean you are productive or accomplishing anything. You can spend a day, month, or year on busy work that never produces lasting results. As the leader of my company, I have to be careful of this as well. I can get so busy with researching, marketing, or administrative tasks that I am not being productive in advancing the mission of BRAVE. The deception about busy work is that it feels like real work. You are doing something. But by merely doing "something" doesn't necessarily mean you are accomplishing. Take a look at your schedule. If you are constantly feeling like you wasted an entire day or more, you are trapped in this cycle.

2.You have become used to frantic and anything less feels weird.

We get used to a fast pace of life and therefore think it is the norm. If we deviate from the norm, it feels weird. Have you ever met a woman who just can't seem to relax? She is always running around doing something...and those "somethings" aren't really important tasks. Are you that woman? There is a running joke in my family about my mom. She can't NOT do something (double negative intended). If she sits down for a minute, she'll inevitably say or think "there is something I can do". Drive and ambition are great traits in a leader. But your drive and ambition has to have a greater purpose...and only you can define that purpose.

I recently went on vacation. It took a full 2 days for me to ease into the slower pace I intended. You can have a life less frantic but it won't happen by accident.

3. You have no vision for what success is.

Unless you are crystal clear about what the end looks like you'll forever strive and never arrive. That is a frustrating way to live. You have to have a clear vision for what success looks like...for you. You have to define success for yourself. That way you'll know what it looks like when you get there. When you get there you can stop striving.  With no vision, you are just aimlessly wandering about. Great leaders aren't aimless. 

4. You have no idea what enough is.

This is similar to the previous reason but it is different enough to add it separately. Enough indicates a stopping point. Having a clear definition of enough lets you know when to stop. It is a boundary issue. We all need boundaries. Defining your "enough" is putting a boundary in place so you won't waste time. What is enough? What is that number? What is that level? What is that accomplishment? If you don't know what "enough" is, you will never reach it. Think about your bank account, the pace of your life, the call on your life, the way you want to contribute in the world, and the way you like to express yourself creatively. What is "enough" to do those things? No one can define that for you. As a coach, I help my clients all the time define and then redefine enough. Enough at 25 looks completely different than enough at 45.

5. Everyone else is doing it.

Peer pressure is a powerful thing...even after you're out of your teens. I remember when I was expecting my first child. The peer pressure to buy a Britax car seat was everywhere. It had the highest safety rating. It was most recommended. All the mommy bloggers and some friends were talking about how it was the safest car seat in the world. The problem was all that safety had a price tag of close to $600. It would still get spit up, Cheez Its, and french fries stuck in its crevices just like its cheaper counterparts. I was torn. Good moms bought their kids the best, fed their kids organic homemade food, and never ever let their kids eat sugar or fast food, right?  In order to keep my sanity (and my budget) in tack, I had to let go of what everyone else was doing and find my own path. I think many women in leadership struggle with this same issue. They look at what other successful women are doing and think "she made it doing X, so I have to do that too". When I was an intern at a global manufacturing company, the intranet posted an interview of one of their only female executives at the time. The interviewer asked the woman how she managed her work life balance. The female executive blatantly said. "You don't. You can't balance it." She went on to insinuate that in order to reach her level as a woman, you have to work all the time. I was very disappointed. When I was offered a full time position from that company after my internship, I declined. Even back then, I had made up in my mind that I would not dictate my work based on what everyone else was doing. Little did I know that was a decision I would have to repeat again and again my own life.

So there you have it 5 reason you are working harder than you need to. What would you add to this list?

Are you tired of feeling like you are being pulled in a million different directions trying to satisfy other people?

I know you are. 

It is time you be BRAVE enough to decide not only what you do, but how you do it. Align your work with your calling and personal values. Define for yourself and your organization what is necessary. Doing so will help learn how to stand your ground. By doing so you can say no and say yes based on strategy not whimsy.

By doing this you can almost guarantee that you will not work harder than necessary. Just imagine how awesome that will be.

If you are ready to set your own definitions of success and start leading the way you know you are called, then schedule an FREE Awaken Your BRAVE Strategy Session with me so we can set you on a path to winning that feels right for you. Click here to schedule your 30 minute session now.

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