You're either working hard or hardly working, as the saying goes.
In today's audio postcard, I talk about the other options between those extremes and offer alternatives to hard work.
Today's question: How do you feel about hard work? And did anything I shared help to wiggle things loose?
Leave a comment and share your ideas!
Rather read than listen?
One of the things I know about people who struggle with burnout and overwhelm is that they have strong values about work.
And if I had to guess, I’m betting you may be one of those people, I certainly am. You’re likely someone who believes strongly in working hard. And that hard work is the way to get things done well. To be a productive member of society. To make a contribution. To do work that matters.
And while, fundamentally, I don’t have a problem with hard work, I do have a problem with the fact that it seems to be your sole focus. It was my sole focus too, until a great coach challenged me to start questioning it. Which helped me open my thinking about what work could be, other than just hard.
What if your work could be easy? What would be different about how you approach your work and how you feel about it?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should throw hard work out the window and become a life-long couch potato. But that’s just the thing – there is an enormous spectrum between working hard and hardly working that we rarely explore.
If your work didn’t have to be hard all the time, how would that change your life? Is it possible you’d be less stressed and overwhelmed?
If your work didn’t have to be so hard, would you be able to spend time on other things too? Maybe even make room for play, creativity and experimentation in your life?
My goal in asking you these questions isn’t to pass judgement or make you feel shitty about how you’re doing your work. What I want to do is to help shake things up a bit and jostle your brain, in a good way.
If you approached your work with ease or playfulness, how might it change your work? Would it be possible to come up with different ideas or alternate approaches to the problems you’re trying to solve? If you brainstormed the easiest way to do something rather than looking for the more complicated “hard work” solution, what might you discover? And how might it impact your work and how you feel about it?
Because something else I’ve learned about people who get burned out, is that you get into patterns and habits that end up working against you. When you get into the habit of assuming that work has to be hard (in order for it be of value), you miss out on all of the other things that work can be. Easy. Fun. Playful. Creative. Exciting. Inspiring. And on and on.
You miss out on the potential of all the things along the spectrum of what work can be. And you miss out on the variety of ways that you can experience and do work. Which not only impacts your life but your work too.
OK, so that was a whole slew of questions for you to consider! And I’d love to hear about what you think.