Entrepreneurship, hustle, ambition…all the stuff that makes up the type of person that would dare click on a headline like the one I’ve given you…is a blessing and a curse.
Don’t lie to me and say you’re not the type of person who works harder than all of your co-workers, peers, and family members, and yet still thinks at times that you’re not working hard enough.
I’ve had this guilt many times before. While I don’t think I necessarily work harder than some of my peers, who happen to be hundreds of the world’s smartest and most talented Millennials on the face of the planet, and I certainly have family who kick butt on a daily basis, I am (in all senses of the phrase) a “get sh*t done” type of person. However, given our tendencies as entrepreneurs to always want to push our new projects further along, obsess over small details, and pester co-founders, peers, and partners alike about pending deadlines because everything needs to get done faster, smarter, and better, we are left sitting with this untrue guilt making us feel like we aren’t doing enough to grow our businesses and change the world.
Well, for most of you reading this article, I’m calling bulls**t, letting you know that you are in fact working at lightning speed, and want you to try doing these 10 things the next time you think you’re not working hard enough.
1) Start A Morning Gratitude Journal
This one practice alone has shifted my outlook on a now-daily basis from one of overwhelm and frustration on most days to one of positivity, gratitude, and mission. One of my mentors, David Hassell, the CEO of 15Five, a company helping other organizations boost their performance through better conversations and engagement, suggested a few months ago that I try keeping a morning gratitude journal, simply jotting down 3-5 minutes’ worth of things, people, and experiences I feel grateful for. By doing this every morning, you prime yourself for positivity, learn to appreciate just how far you’ve come, and set yourself up with a fresh mental space that will allow you to go even further.
Many of the world’s top thinkers start their days with similar gratitude practices. From Tony Robbins, who works to help as many people as possible reach their peak potentials, to Peter Diamandis, who works to secure and invite society into a more promising future on many fronts, particularly space tourism and multi-planetary living, some of the hardest working people in the world make sure to begin their days with thanks for all that has transpired in the past and will come in the future in order to combat natural guilt entrepreneurs are faced with when we don’t feel like what we are doing is enough.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I decide to wake up early to work out before the day starts, I feel as though I’ve already conquered life’s grand challenges even before the clock strikes 7 or 8 am and most people are just getting up. While I’m not an expert on exercise, nor do I practice what I preach as much as I should, the benefits of exercising are well documented, and the boost in productivity that comes from working out properly should give you more gas in the tank to work harder and simply forget any nonsense guilt you’ve given yourself for “not working hard enough”.
Kick those negative thoughts to the curb with a kickboxing or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class, chase them away by going for a run, or crush those bad vibes like you will with weights in a squat rack…whatever your chosen method, remember what Nike told us and “just do it!”. You’ll instantly forget your reptilian brain’s silly feelings of inadequacy and guilt-tripping.
3) Talk To A Fellow Entrepreneur That You Hold In High Regards
Peer mentorship is such a crucial aspect of success, fulfillment, and figuring things out that you otherwise may not uncover by working alone in a silo separated from the rest of the hard-working society that is entrepreneurs.
The next time you think you’re NOT working hard enough, consult a fellow entrepreneur and express how you feel to them. You’ll be surprised to realize that the people you hold in high regards will share the same struggles and occasional, ill-placed feelings of laziness that you do. When this happens, you’ll be reassured that it is not uncommon for you to feel this way, and that with these feelings don’t actually come a drop in productivity, or the crumbling of your world. If you’re working hard, building a solid foundation for your future success, and taking necessary steps and sacrifices to get ahead, the rest will sort itself out.
Pro-tip: What may be even better than consulting a fellow entrepreneur is establishing a mastermind of entrepreneurs and doers to refer back to and talk things like this out with on a regular basis.
By properly delegating, you can exponentially increase your per-hour productivity by offloading less desired, repetitive, or unimportant tasks to others in exchange for working more on the things you’re best at, find most interesting, and push your businesses forth in the best way.
Also, delegating things that your co-founders, employees, or others would be best suited for can accomplish the same thing. At times, I’ll delegate certain design responsibilities for 2 Billion Under 20 to my co-founder or design tasks for my next book I’m currently researching for, The Gap Year Experiment, to a top industry designer, because that’s simply a task that others are better at and enjoy more than I do. After I developed an outbound sales system for my marketing consulting practice, I brought on two team members who are now able to run with the processes I’ve developed and source leads, conduct reach-out, and initiate prospecting conversations almost 100% autonomously, leaving me to steer the ship in terms of company strategy, client work for those we sign on to service, and develop joint venture partnerships for eventual referrals. When I need to get groceries, I’ll normally outsource shopping and delivery of food products to Instacart in whatever city I’m in, and there’s also tools for outsourcing laundry, package delivery, and other things that just suck time out of our lives for busy entrepreneurs. I even dabble with the use of virtual assistants for basic research-led tasks (FancyHands is the service I’ve been testing out).
5) Lower The Volume
In today’s day and age, there’s so many different apps, media streams, and things that demand our time and ultimately zap our energy. Personally, I don’t watch Netflix, own a TV, play video games, use Instagram or Snapchat, watch the news (in part because of its general negativity), or play a balancing act of app usage. I find that, by not engaging in these activities (although there is a point to be made for the validity of using Instagram and Snapchat to grow your personal brand), I save a couple hours daily when compared to most people, so that even when I feel like I’m not working hard enough, I know that I’ve already gained back over a dozen hours each week of potential working time over the average person.
That’s a conservative estimate, and multiplied out, also means well over 600 extra hours of potential work time (or play time!) each year at a very conservative estimate that I’m able to “get back” by refraining from time-sucking activities. By lowering the volume on my media intake and tech usage in these cases, I set myself for occasional laziness or feelings of guilt knowing that I’m still utilizing my time far better than most people even on “off days”. Try removing just one of those activities (start with TV watching) and see how much time you earn back in your days, weeks, months, and years of your life.
6) Take A Break
We are in this game for the long haul. None of us are changing the world overnight. Companies aren’t built in one day, and many of us do too much “busy work” each day anyways instead of being deliberate about our work actions and choosing to do only the most important and urgent activities that will actually move our business forward, delegating other tasks or even saying “NO” to more things as James Altucher is a huge proponent of doing.
With this is mind, take a break when you’re overcome with a feeling of not working hard enough. Go for a walk outside, play a game of ping pong, call home and say hi to mom. Text your boyfriend/girlfriend/crush. Do something to take your mind off of work for a few minutes, and recharge. Then, come back to working hard, and move onwards in your work until you feel tired and guilty again. Repeat the break-taking process.
It doesn’t help the world if I burn out at 25, or 30, or 40, or even 50. It won’t help your family, friends, employees, customers, and peers if you burn out either. So take it easy on yourself, and take care of yourself.
7) Take A Dance Class, Or Do Anything Adventurous
There’s so many different activities, places, and things to explore in this world, especially if you normally reside in a big city or are fortunate enough to travel often. When you feel like you’re getting in a rut and aren’t working hard enough, try doing something new for a change. Yesterday, I ran around New York City taking care of various last-minute chores before beginning a month’s worth of travel starting today, and felt like I wasn’t working hard enough as a result because these tasks (many of which couldn’t be outsourced) took me away from behind the computer and phone.
To get away from creeping frustration, I went to a dance class. Do I normally go to dance classes? No. Did it get me out of my own head and lighten the proverbial weight on my shoulders? Absolutely. It also made my life and profile slightly more interesting and diverse, and perhaps I’ll continue going to dance classes and pick up a new skill while continuing to fend off feelings of inadequacy when they creep up from time to time.
If dancing isn’t your thing, just do something new and adventurous, and you’ll get similar results. Suddenly, you won’t flip out feeling like you’re not working hard enough. You’ll actually come back to your work energized and grateful for the ability to experience epic outings because of your hard work.
8) Work Harder
If you’re constantly feeling guilty because you feel like you’re not working hard enough, and you’ve tried all the other methods of ridding those thoughts of laziness but they still persist on a regular basis, perhaps your intuition is indicating that you are indeed not working hard enough. In the case this is true for the small percentage of people reading this post, then you may actually need to work harder in order to conquer your feelings of not working hard enough.
The above tips and tricks are for people who are absolutely crushing it on a daily basis in their grind to the top, yet if you aren’t putting in the work and therefore feel like you’re not working hard enough, I’m sorry to say that there’s no substitute for getting ahead. This lifestyle we’ve all chosen is not easy, and if you’ve working on important challenges, scaling your solutions to those problems will only come with time, and a LOT of hard work.
So, if you’re constantly in a state of feeling like you’re not working hard enough, and you’re indeed not putting the work in that you need to in order to get the outcomes you’d like, then you need to really reconsider this career path, daily activity set, and motivations for doing what you do.
There is no substitute for hard work.