Towards the end of last year, I read an article written by a very popular blogger that addressed the question of how he had become successful.
He explained that he had tried for years to create a blog that would take off, but had been unsuccessful. Eventually, he admitted to himself that he wasn’t working as hard as he could be. He made an effort to change that, working harder and managing to achieve his dream of becoming a full-time writer.
It was a well-received article, but it’s been playing on my mind ever since because it triggers thoughts of a subject that I’m often preoccupied with: at what point are you working hard enough?
Claiming your success comes from hard work is both an inspiring and a worrying idea.
Anyone can work hard. If success is all about hard work, it removes perceived barriers of talent, education or background, meaning that you can achieve your dreams if you want them enough.
But what about the people who work hard and don’t succeed?
If we follow this argument through, then they just aren’t working hard enough.
And that’s the dangerous word for me. When is it enough?
I have a number of projects on the go right now: a full-time job, crowdfunding my debut novel, writing the next novel, running this blog and generally living – spending time with family and friends, reading, exercising, walking the dog, cleaning etc.
If I’m honest, I could be working harder on any one of those things. But look at the bigger picture and it’s a struggle just to keep everything afloat.
The idea of hustle is so prevalent in the online world that we’ve been trained to think that if we aren’t working hard and pursuing our dreams at all times, then we’re already failing. We’re not making the most of our lives or our potential.
But we’re all human too.
Taking time to rest and replenish is just as important, otherwise you’re going to burn out fast.
Life should be about fun and laughter and love, not only work, deadlines and hustle.
And sometimes things just don’t work out. You might put everything into launching a business, but it just never takes off.
Sometimes success depends on a delicate balance of hard work, skill and luck. Two people might do exactly the same things but only one of them happens to meet the person who is able to give their project the boost it needs. They succeed, where the second person gives up.
Hard work is important, but it isn’t everything.
And the relentless pursuit of success shouldn’t come at the expense of your health and happiness.
So work hard if you want, play hard too. But remember that there’s no shame in slowing down or even stopping if you need to.