Is hard work really all it takes to succeed in the world? Can anyone pull themselves up by the bootstraps and leave behind a difficult situation for a better life? In truth, some people will give it their all, only to wake up each day feeling like they’re spinning their wheels.
What gives? It might be something is missing, and it isn’t effort. Burning the midnight oil, pushing harder or hanging in there a little longer won’t make a bit of difference if these essential elements aren’t a part of the picture.
When Circumstances Limit You
Hard work is important, but it’s rarely the only ingredient needed for success. Even the most devoted people need their circumstances to align with their vision of the future.
An employee who wants to move up at work may find they aren’t employed at a company interested in their success. Perhaps another person’s unemployment persists because their location is lacking in opportunities. Sometimes, no amount of hard work can compete against terrible circumstances.
When a Lack of Support is Holding You Back
Humans aren’t meant to live life alone, and accomplishing goals is certainly harder without support. Friends, family members and mentors offer the encouragement necessary to keep going even when things aren’t going well.
More practically, a strong support system steps in the gap when help is necessary to keep moving forward in life. This could look like childcare for children during job interviews or someone running errands for you when you can’t find a spare moment in your day. This help is vital for anyone who’s trying to make important life changes.
When You’re Working Hard at the Wrong Things
Ouch. This one can be hard to hear. What if all that effort and time has been directed at the wrong thing? It actually happens all the time.
Sometimes we become so frantic in living our busy lives that we fail to question whether we’re devoting ourselves to the right thing. It’s so common, personal development author Alex Czarto constructed the four quadrants of time management to help people determine how effectively they’re using their days. He explains how important it is that we don’t spend too much of our time focused on “urgent” unimportant tasks.
What could be urgent but not important? Making phone calls, answering emails, responding to text messages or running last-minute errands are all great examples. These activities all disguise themselves as work but don’t do much to get us closer to our long-term goals.
So What Now?
If it’s true more effort won’t get you where you want to be, is it time to give up? No way! Instead, take time to focus all that hard work on fixing what’s standing in your way. If circumstances need to change, start researching ways to make that happen. If you need more support, be honest with friends and family or join a support group when you don’t have loved ones nearby. If distractions are keeping you busy, create boundaries that prevent you from falling into old, unproductive habits.
Trying to succeed by doing the same thing day in, and day out often ends in failure. Or even shame. If you’re trying so hard, why aren’t you getting anywhere? But in truth, it’s not always your fault. And working harder won’t make obstacles disappear. Have an open mind and be willing to make unconventional adjustments and start finally making progress toward your goals.
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