Do you ever feel like you’re working much harder than others while getting fewer or less stellar results?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel like this.
This perception carries through all areas of my life: in the gym, in my sports of trampoline and flying trapeze, in my writing, in my work.
The common advice that people give me is to “do less.”
This is well-intentioned, but misguided.
“Do less” is the antidote to “doing too much.”
There’s a difference between
Doing too much and Working too hard.
We may use them interchangeably, but they are not the same.
What’s the difference?
How much you do is a matter of volume — think of it as the number of activities or reps.
How hard you work is a matter of the effort and intensity you put in.
Within these two dynamics there are a lot of variables.
It may be that you’re working too hard and/or doing too much.
You could be working hard but not doing enough reps.
You may be doing enough volume but not truly putting the effort in.
Or, maybe you’re not working too much or too hard.
Maybe the real problem is in what you’re doing. Perhaps you’re doing the wrong things for the results you want. There are a lot of ways to get to a result. What is truly essential?
Or perhaps the real issue is with timing or location. You might be doing the right things, but at the wrong time or in the wrong place. Showing up at 5 am in a spot that faces East won’t help if you’re goal is to watch the sunset. Being more consistent or working harder at it won’t change that.
Maybe you’re not working efficiently or effectively. My trampoline coach is always telling me to let the trampoline do some of the work. The idea is that after I put the energy into it, I can ride that energy and allow it to push me up more. Instead my tendency is to preempt it, to do more than is necessary.
Ultimately that works counter to my goal.
I try to think of my work in the same way. Instead of thinking about the binaries of doing more vs doing less or working harder vs easing off, I am considering:
Where can I better receive back energy I have already put in?
How can I make my work regenerative, so that I invest my resources (energy, time, focus, etc) in a way that generates a return?