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Working hard vs. working smart

Asuefai Harcourt, 23rd Aug 2020
Tags: Life Blog Career Education Work

“Hard work pays off.”

I’m sure we have all been on the receiving end of this phrase at some point.

Hard work definitely does pay off, but have you ever taken the time to consider what the “pay off” looks like?

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Dustin Leech said, “Hard work pays off whatever you do”, and I can’t argue with that logic because it does, eventually. However, the time when you will see the pay off depends on where and how you use your energy.

I have come to the realisation that the “pay off” can be good or bad. It can bring satisfaction, but can also be disheartening.

Proper guidance and influence is important.

If you put a lot of work into something that does not uplift you, you can get results from it, but it won't build you up. I guess that’s why proper guidance and influence is important, because it can help you towards the results you want to see. 

The truth is, hard work is necessary, but it will only get you so far.

Man tired from working hard
Image Credit: Tenor

If you go through life working really hard but not working smart, your life will end up being filled with “what if’s?” and “I wish’s”, and you will never have a sense of satisfaction.

Two individuals with the same goals and means of achieving them can have different experiences, depending on if they choose to work hard or work smart.

Focus that energy and determination on harnessing a skill.

You can devote energy to anything you do and be working hard. However, to work smart, you need to focus that energy and determination on harnessing a skill or interest that you already have, because that is already an advantage to you.

Work harder not smarter

Take me for instance, I enjoy the process of transformation and transportation that happens when I read. Because of this, memorising is not my strength because it does not require me to go beyond the surface of the words.

I struggled a lot with this in my first year of university. I spent a lot of time working hard to memorise the things we learned, without wanting to develop a real interest or knowledge in the subject. This paid off in the sense that I got passing grades.

I experienced growth.

However, when I started focusing on working smart, realising my strength in reading to understand and not just memorise, I ended up getting more than just passing grades. I experienced growth and it was very satisfying.

Girl happy while studying

Just because someone works hard in a particular area and their success is glaring, does not mean you have to use the same method to get the same results.

They found their strength, harnessed it, and worked hard on it. That is working smart, and so should you.

Look beyond instant self-gratification.

No matter how hard you work, if you don’t apply the wisdom of working smart, you won't be satisfied with your work. Look beyond instant self-gratification when planning your work, and work smart.

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Working smart is what you need to win. If anything, take it from this poem:

"Life is a race,
With every individual assigned a different lane
And their best skill going at their best set pace.
Hard work applied to fuel success on its own can bear fruits
But those fruits sometimes may be sour to you and sweet to another
In order to avoid lifelong regrets and the risk of making your journey a tricky bet,
Align your drive and let your zeal not be fuelled by desire.
Hard work, heart, and wisdom applied to chase a dream?
Now that’s a recipe that can begot your fairy tale ending."

Work smart.

Remind yourself of these words, look beyond instant self-gratification, and choose to work smarter.

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