I work with clients who — to a person — all feel they are hardworking. Of course, the reason many of them seek my help is to make that effort seem fruitful. Nothing is more discouraging than feeling like you are putting in the time and effort in your career only to see little success in the outcome.
My strategy is generally to examine their motivation, help them find their “Why?” and help them to focus their efforts toward a goal they can measure and reach. It generally involves organization, some structure and scheduling, and discipline. However, maybe I need to rethink this a little and add...nothing.
Recently I was searching for blog ideas, and I ran across not one, but three articles, that all seemed to say the same thing: working hard is not all it’s cracked up to be. We stress too much DO-ing and forget about BE-ing. Of course I see the value in how I challenge people to look inward first before they can address any outward issues. However, these well-known and trusted resources may be telling me to relax a little.
Here are a few of their thoughts
Brian Tracy: Work Less, Fantasize More
This man is one of my favorite experts on the subject of personal development, so of course I leaned forward to read an article he wrote called “How to Become a Millionaire.” Among his recommendations:
• Keep a spiral notebook with you throughout the day to capture those ideas that come into your head that could be helpful insight into reaching your goals, or solving a problem, or as the article says, how to make more money. The idea is quantity of ideas— you can sort out their quality later.
• Take time outs to relax and reflect on your goals, allowing your mind to open up to those same ideas that may be escaping you when you’re trying too hard to come up with them.
• Fantasize on a regular basis, imagining your obstacles have been removed from reaching your goals.
• Project this type of thinking to imagine what, for example, your success will look like, including more specific details on your profits, reputation, etc. Then ask yourself what you can do RIGHT NOW to begin to make it happen.
• “Mind storm” problems by coming up with at least 20 ideas to solve them. Don’t dwell too long on any one idea, just start writing
Again, I must admit a little skepticism on some of these points, at least without guidance and accountability. But Brian Tracy is Brian Tracy...I’ll grant him credibility.
Another trusted resource, and source of my own continuing education is TTI Success Insights, which recently shared a few tips on working smarter, not harder. Again, I coach strategies like this to my clients, but their answers surprised me. See if you catch any similarities:
• Get a good night’s sleep to stay energized
• Rethink a long commute and work from home to capture that lost unproductive and stressful time in the car or on the bus. They cite the example of billionaire Richard Branson, who rarely spends any time in an office, and takes a midday kite surfing break to come back reenergized for the second half of the day.
• Relax and work at a comfortable pace. We’re always trying to compete by staying later, coming in earlier, and we’re exhausting ourselves.
I will caution you before you start to think coming in at 10 and leaving at 3 without having a strategy to be productive. Successful people figure out how to make the best use of their time, be excited to put in their time, and their results allow them to create this type of flexible schedule.
Finally, the highly touted Psychology Today publication offers some insight to the value of be idle.
“States of being and inactivity allow the creative potentials of the mind to manifest themselves. They allow insights and inspirations to flow. It’s in these states that ideas suddenly come to us, seemingly out of nowhere,” the article states.
Think about it...we’re often told when a particular problem is plaguing us to walk away from it for a little bit. And that’s usually when the flash of insight comes to us. A colleague of mine says there are times when she just needs to walk the dogs when she’s seeking creativity or needs to figure out a problem.
And literally, she walks her dogs. She says they are perfect models for just living in and enjoying the moment. She thinks about simply being in the moment with them, relaxing, and generally when she’s back in front of her computer, the ideas flow more easily because she’s simply less stressed out about finding them.
So, sorry to disappoint anyone, but my suggestion is not to sleep late, never keep a schedule and spend all of your time dreaming of millions while you loll in a hammock. What I will recommend is to incorporate time into your schedule that allows you to relax, reflect and allow your mind to wander a bit, especially if you’re in a particularly stressful period of your life. This type of structured rest leads to smarter decisions, innovative solutions, renewed energy and creativity in tackling your obstacles.