by Caitlin Evans: Rest is Vital…
The road to success is paved with hard work, or so they say.
Take the example of Elon Musk. The most successful man on the planet, some say. A man who works an 80-hour week.
And, without a doubt, he is successful.
Jump on over to Instagram, and take a look at all those other successful people, parading their “work hard, play hard” lifestyle. Look at the long hours at the office, the expensive wardrobes, holidays, the parties, the corporate life.
These people have it all. The perfect job, the perfect relationship, a buzzing social life, money to burn, they routinely vacation in the best suites money can buy.
And they are all just so amazingly happy!
(claps hands loudly and shakes you awake)
Think again, won’t you?
Let’s start with success
A simple question to ask ourselves first: Why do we work hard in the first place?
Simple answer: We want to be successful.
Hard question: What on earth is success?
Despite what the internet, social media, and perhaps your parents would have you believe, success is not a great job, a great guy and a great social life, a platinum card and a carefree existence.
Success is much simpler than that.
The only time you can call yourself successful is when you achieve what you want. What you want. Not what you are made to believe you want, not what corporate America wants you to think success is, not the spending-happy consumer the economy wants you to become.
Success can be defined only when you come to terms with who you are, what you want, what kind of life you want to live, and what it is that makes you truly happy. What gets you out of bed in the morning.
And move on to hard work
Another simple question: What does “work hard” mean?
Simple answer: Work long hours, be extra productive at all times, fight tooth and nail to get to the top of the corporate ladder.
Hard question number two: Is it the same for everyone? What if you are insanely successful at what you do, but don’t find it hard? Are you not working hard then? Do you need to work longer?
The hard answer to this question, what hard work actually is, starts with the answer to our first hard question. If what you want to do, what will make you truly happy, is hidden from you, working hard will amount to nothing more than making someone else’s dreams come true.
Working hard does not need to translate into sleeping 5 hours a night for years, trying to reach some sort of pinnacle of success that you’re not even sure you want.
Working hard does not mean making life difficult for yourself. You don’t have to suffer to be successful, no matter what pop culture and the white-collar industry try to make you believe.
Striking a balance in an unstable world
The age we live in has made us forget who we truly are. And no wonder, when we’re so busy trying to be someone else, someone likable, successful, someone who has made it.
Happiness and true fulfillment come from finding what makes you who you are, what makes you the best version of yourself, and pursuing that at all costs. And don’t get me wrong. Being yourself is hard work.
And once you do find yourself and start becoming who you were meant to be, you won’t stop working hard.
Hard work is all about getting up in the morning, putting your best foot forward, and doing the best you can do, giving the best you can give, on that day.
If you’re not feeling your best, don’t expect your best to be mesmerizing. Working hard is all about trying, failing, getting up, and trying again. And trying until you get there.
Remember what the flight attendants always say?
Before you help anyone else, put your own oxygen mask on. You won’t do anyone any good if you pass out.
The same rule applies in life.
If you deprive yourself of sleep, rest and relaxation, you will no longer be able to do your freaking best, will you? How have we ever become deluded that we can work hard on no sleep and increasing amounts of caffeine?
Don’t get me wrong – coffee is not bad for you if you drink it in moderate amounts. In fact, it can even be beneficial. But you can’t replace deep sleep with a cup of Joe. Or anything else for that matter.
Living your best life is all about shaking off the shackles society tries to tie you down with. And no one ever tells you how to stay in touch with your own core being anyway. They don’t teach self-discovery in school, do they?
The “work hard” part comes in here – you will need to work hard do discover who you are, and what life you want to lead. And once you know that, there is still the business of making your dreams come true.
And it will not be easy. No walk in the park here.
You may love what you do, but still find it hard to stay focused, or get to work. And that’s okay. We’re all human, after all.
The business of living life is about embracing the lows when they come (and they will come), just as much as it’s about enjoying the highs.
But, moving back to sleep deprivation.
Work hard – on yourself: for yourself
If you stop and think really hard about it (pun intended), how happy are you with your “work hard, play hard” lifestyle? Does your heart sing for joy just thinking about it?
Didn’t think so.
If we were all to step out of the rat race, which has only been imposed on us so that the 1% can amass their fortunes anyway, and put ourselves first, life would be much different.
You can start by resting, catching up on your sleep, and doing what makes you happy and eases your mind. If that’s spending 15 minutes in the shower in the morning singing Aretha Franklin off-key, please do it, tomorrow.
Life is not supposed to be all about what we have in terms of the material. It’s about finding a path we are proud to walk on. And while the road is mysterious, and can take you anywhere (even very far from where you started), walking it should be the pleasure and the focus. Not arriving in a dazzling sports car, decked out to the nines.
Stop forcing yourself to believe you have to exhaust yourself to wring any meaning out of life. It simply isn’t true. All you will do is open up a doorway to anxiety and stress, neither of which will do you much good.
The business of being happy takes a lot of hard work – but it’s the only worthwhile task you can hope to succeed in.