There is a lot to be said for the value of hard work. It’s pretty tough to be successful without effort and determination. However, there is also something to be said for finding ways to work smarter, not harder wherever we can.
Work-life balance is a good thing, despite how difficult it is to access these days. It is possible to be a hard worker and a success without overdoing it. In fact, it might even be kind of essential. There is evidence to support the idea that success and overdoing it actually don’t always have to go hand in hand.
Even the most driven people unplug now and then. In fact, their success may depend on it.
1. A lot of successful people have a daily mindfulness/meditation practice.
Embracing a regular meditation practice can help your career. It’s good for your health, your cognitive functioning, and it supports happiness, decision-making, and time-management goals. It turns out that a lot of successful people know the power this kind of practice can bring to their lives and careers. While these practices do take a little time, they also save time in the end.
Tim Ferris, host of the number one business podcast on iTunes, The Tim Ferris Show, has talked with a lot of successful men and women. Over the course of more than 200 interviews, he noticed that one practice stood out among the rest. Ferris realized that an awful lot of people said they had some kind of daily meditation or mindfulness practice. He also understands the benefits from his own personal experience.
“Done consistently, my reward for meditating is getting 30% to 50% more done in a day with 50% less stress. Why? Because I have already done a warmup in recovering from distraction: my morning sit,” Ferris writes in Observer. “If I later get distracted or interrupted during work hours, I can return to my primary task far more quickly and completely.”
2. Plenty of busy people make time for outside interests and hobbies.
Participating in activities that bring joy and contentment outside of our working lives, is important. Happier people really are more productive. And, having something other than work that you can turn to for that helps quite a bit. Many highly successful people make time for their hobbies. Warren Buffett enjoys playing the ukulele. Arianna Huffington does yoga in the mornings. And, Bill Gates reads about 50 books a year, despite his busy schedule. Taking the time to prioritize activities that matter to you, outside of work, supports your happiness and success.
“Reading books is my favorite way to learn about a new topic,” Gates wrote on his blog according to CNBC. “I’ve been reading about a book a week on average since I was a kid. Even when my schedule is out of control, I carve out a lot of time for reading.”
3. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to not try quite so hard.
There’s something about pushing too hard on one single goal that can actually make it a little harder to grab hold of. For example, our culture emphasizes the importance of being happy to the point where it becomes more difficult to achieve. Similarly, hyper-focusing on being “successful” might not be the best approach. Instead, try working on being engaged, on being passionate, innovative, collaborative, etc. Success, in and of itself, is a difficult goal to pursue. However, if you relax into a life and job that you love, and if you consistently do your best with a joyful and positive attitude, you might find you get a little closer to “success” however you define it, than you would have otherwise.
4. The alternative has so many negative consequences.
Contrary to what our modern culture of overwork suggests, successful people actually don’t work all of the time, and maybe you shouldn’t either. Long hours, stress, and poor work-life balance can have very negative consequences. Working too hard can significantly impact one’s health — physically and mentally. Prolonged stress also has cognitive, behavioral, and emotional consequences. If you really want to be successful, take time away from work regularly. And, build a fulfilling life for yourself outside of the confines of your job. You’ll be happier, and probably more successful at work, if you do.
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