The Truth About Hard WorkJan 13, 2023
Growing up, hard work was a badge of honor.
“That guy is a hard worker.”
It was the strongest compliment a lot of people could give.
If someone was willing to sweat a little more or go a little longer, well, they were deemed successful.
But I’ll tell you what I figured out about that over the years.
Working harder and harder is a short-sighted way of looking at things.
As a kid I had a job delivering newspapers.
In the beginning I would stuff HALF of my newspapers into two oversized canvas messenger bags strung over my shoulders.
I’d strain like crazy, walking up and down the hills on my paper route, with all that weight.
When I was finished delivering everything, I’d walk all the way back to the drop-off point...
...and get the other half of my newspapers!
Not very efficient.
Then I helped my friend with his paper route one morning.
He had this metal newspaper cart with a handle and sturdy wheels.
You could load the ENTIRE supply of newspapers in the cart and pull it with relative ease.
Better yet, you could deliver all of the papers in HALF the time.
It didn’t take me long to get one of those carts for my own paper route.
The Truth About Hard Work
What's my point?
Smart work beats hard work.
Fast forward to today.
As a professional coach I teach my client athletes how to work smarter versus harder.
We focus on things like:
🥘Batch-preparing weekly meals on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Time requirement: 2-4 hours/week
💪Training for FOUR 45-minute sessions per week.
Time requirement: 3 hours/week
🙂Getting eight hours of quality sleep nightly.
Time requirement: 56 hours/week (seems like a lot but the rewards are countless)
🙂Staying accountable to your weekly goals.
Time requirement: 10 minutes/week (possibly the best ROI)
Now make no mistake, I’ve yet to meet a successful person who didn’t put in a ton of hours working hard on whatever they want to accomplish in their business.
And I’ve never met someone who built their Ideal Body (the leanest, strongest, happiest version of YOU) using some shortsighted juice-cleanse diet or doing an “eight-minute” ab workout.
But then again, I’ve never met someone who’s created a lean, strong, and athletic body by simply working harder without working smarter.
So how can you start working smart?
Here are a few thoughts to help you:
Decide where you want to go and develop a plan to get there.
Understand that being busy is not a goal.
Anyone can be busy.
The better question is “who gets more of the right stuff done each day?”
Go into your day with Most Important Tasks.
Accomplish 2-3 things at most.
Do those before doing anything else.
When you spend time on something you’re actually saying “this is the most valuable thing I could be doing right now.”
Think about your activities that way and look for ways to spend less time doing the things you decide aren’t really that valuable.
I think Abraham Lincoln summed up the way I feel about this very well:
"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe."
Lincoln didn’t suggest to shy away from the six hours of work.
He simply suggested a more efficient use of six hours.
That’s how you get better results than the rest.
One more thing.
When you look at your goals, it's easy to forget that there's a series of actions that lead to accomplishing those goals.
Meaning, if you have a goal of losing 30 pounds, that’s great, but you still need to follow the simple actions like eating mindfully and training four times per week.
What we know is that those actions are a series of small habits.
The large majority (upwards of 90% depending on who you ask) of our actions are driven by habits.
Flossing your teeth is a habit.
Sitting on the couch after dinner is a habit.
Getting up early to train is a habit.
Truth is, if you do anything long enough, for enough repetitions, it becomes a habit.
So, in order to make true, lasting change, you need to change your habits.
Much easier said than done, right?
Well, in his book Atomic Habits (highly recommended), James Clear outlines four steps to creating a good habit.
Step one: Make it obvious.
Place your multivitamins next to your toothbrush since brushing your teeth is already a habit.
Put your workout clothes in your gym bag next to your car keys so you take them to work with you.
See the trend?
The first step is to stack a new habit with an existing habit and design the environment to make the good habit happen often.
Step two: Make it attractive.
This is where you pair this new habit you’re trying to build with an an existing habit you already enjoy.
That might be stretching while you watch your favorite TV show at night.
The TV show is the habit, you enjoy it, and you’re stacking it with stretching.
"I get to watch my favorite TV show as I stretch my muscles," becomes your internal dialogue.
It also helps if you join a culture where the positive habit is the normal behavior.
That’s why joining a fitness-and-nutrition coaching program, like Arangio, is so powerful.
You walk in, it’s your own journey, but everyone there is training smart, the energy is contagious, and so it comes a habit.
Step three: Make it easy.
This is where you try to reduce as much friction as possible, have as few steps as possible.
This could be going to the gym right after work instead of going home first then coming back out.
This could be preparing your meals ahead of time so there's less to do when you sit down to eat a meal.
Automation fits into this category as well.
If you’re trying to make a good financial habit, you can automate your savings or your investing.
Maybe you double-pay your mortgage and set up an automatic withdrawal every month.
Automation is a savvy strategy for success.
Step four: Make it satisfying.
It has to be worth it, right?
Maybe you give yourself a small reward after you complete the habit.
This is also where “don’t break the chain” comes in.
Keep track of your habit, something as simple as a daily box to check, and it’s extremely motivating and satisfying to not miss a day.
However, use this four-step framework as you start to look at your goals this year and determine what habits you need to create in order to hit those goals.
To your success,
Joseph Arangio helps 40+ men and women get leaner, stronger, and happier. He's delivered over 100,000 transformation programs to satisfied clients around the globe. If you want to lose weight from home, with the best online personal trainer, or you want to visit the best personal trainer in the Lehigh Valley, you can take a free 14-day trial.