“Working too hard is one of the top regrets of the dying.”
Yet, when faced with the fear of not having lived the life we truly desire, we seek answers: how hard should we really work? The answer depends on what you want to make out of your life — your purpose, your calling. It also depends on your definition of ‘balance’. How much time do you want to spend working? Would you happily allow your craft to consume most of your days, or would you rather work less and spend the rest of the time in nature, with those you love?
If you were to ask the world’s most sought-after entrepreneurs, leaders, or creators their success mantra, they’d direct you to their times working hard. Hard work is required if you want to be world class at what you do.
If you know what you were put on this planet to do, then the time is now to start is now. The best way to consistently align yourself to the future you want is to realize that you don’t get to live forever. Your life is limited.
So if you’re still giving into other people’s expectations of you, it’s time you break free. Endless opportunities await once you make the choice to get started. And if you’ve already started, then this question is an opportunity to revisit and re-evaluate your work/life harmony.
Today’s episode is to help you set yourself up for the path you truly desire. Remember, there’s no formula of success that doesn’t have hard work in it, but there’s also a risk of working too hard and forgoing the things that matter to you most.
A few points from this episode:
[16:06] “Your time is limited. So do not waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other people’s opinions drown out your own inner voice, and most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
[16:40] “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Almost everything, all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure, these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking that you have something to lose. You are already naked. There’s no reason not to follow your heart.”
No matter how much work you put in, if you genuinely love the process, the effort always feels worth it. What I see throwing a wrench in the equation is when effort doesn’t match ambition. Working smarter, not harder is valid approach, but there’s also no substitute for hard work.
That’s why I put this episode together. To truthfully uncover what it takes to achieve success. Take a listen and let me know what you think.
Listen to the Podcast
Chase Jarvis: Hey everybody, what's up? It's your buddy, Chase. Welcome to another episode of the show. Today's show is a micro show. And it's about a topic that I cannot stop thinking about in part, because I get asked damn near every day by the internet, by friends, family members, I hear it on the streets, I hear it around work tables and cafés.
I would call it one of the most fundamental questions that we all face today. And that question is, how hard should you work? Because after all, what is the goal of asking this question of ourselves? Or why are you listening to the show right now? If you haven't turned it off because you didn't like this question and you're still here, I think you're here for a reason, right.
Because finding this path for each of us, our own, the goal is to set yourself up for the success, right. To set yourself up for the future that you want. And this is not taught in school. This is not a lightweight, snappy topic that you can get in a meme post on the 'Gram or via tweet, right.
How do you set yourself up for the future that you want while understanding that life is all it is, is a series of now, right? It's now, and then it's now, and then it's now. And working too hard is also one of the top regrets of the dying. That they got on some hamster wheel to meet other people's expectations.
And obviously that would be the worst to be on your death bed and to be experiencing that. So it begs the question, what is the balance? And of course my goal here in the show is not to answer this for you, but more to give you some framework, some starters, some thought starters so that you can begin, if you haven't already understand for yourself, how hard should you work?
Now I do believe that each of us in our hearts at this moment, right now, you likely have a general disposition, an attitude toward your work. And by your work, I mean, either your day job or potentially your side hustle that you'd like to make your day job. Let's just say, you've got an attitude toward that.
You either you know what it is or you don't know. And if you don't know what it is, I believe that job one, is discovering what it is. Now, I wrote a whole book about that called Creative Calling. So if you haven't read that, please. I just saw it on Amazon, by the way. 15 bucks for the hard copy, half price right now. So, check that out.
But if you do know, if you do know what you are put on this planet to do for work, you have a very, very strong idea, the time is now to start pursuing it. Because in the pursuit, more things will become unveiled.
You do not have to see the whole staircase. You just have to see the next few steps. And in seeing what it is that you were put on this planet to do, or understanding that, knowing that in your heart, the time to start to take those steps is literally now. It is literally today because we're not guaranteed tomorrow, right.
I'm more fatty, which is that's stoic coin that Ryan Holiday has made very popular. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. So, are you going to start to do that work now? Or are you like so many others going to put it off? Are you going to delay the thing that you were put on this planet to do? It doesn't make sense to me.
There are some times reasons that are valuable. I understand that, but I would ask you to ask yourself, is this real or is this fiction? Now, how do we root this in the question of this particular micro show today, right? How hard should you work?
Because if you are working, doing something that you do not love, working incredibly hard is a bad decision. Now there may be reasons, economic ones, other reasons. I just question whether or not you are truly stuck there, or if that is something that you can remedy.
Once you have decided that that is not the case, that you're not going to work hard at something you do not love. And you begin to direct your attention to things that you do love. You still have to make this choice, right. Now, here's a complicating factor. How we are conditioned to think about work is largely a long-term programming from school and our cultural values. How you were raised, where you were raised.
And to be fair, while I deeply value education and teachers, the school system is fundamentally flawed in that it puts everybody in a system, the system of factory, the factory moves at the same pace. And aside from some lightweight customization in there, the schools are churning out widgets rather than extra dynamic humans. And I believe that that is under assault, our learning, and appropriately so because the future of learning as we know now is a hybrid.
It's an inverse work and involves work in play and discovery. And that's going to get better, but you have to do that with yourself. You have to lean into your own education regardless of your age. So school doesn't do a good job of conditioning us to, how hard we want to work and what we want to work on.
So, there's a thing that you have to start to embrace and to tackle yourself. And there's the cultural ones too, right. If you do this job, you're going to be wealthy. If you do that job, you're going to be poor. If you do this job, you're going to be happy. If you do that job, you're going to be sad.
Socioeconomic status, classism, ageism. There's so many things that are present in the societal conversations about work. What I am asking you to do in this show is, do what you can. Be very clear in an exercise of, what is it that I can do to move myself closer to doing the thing I want to do?
Understand what are the preconceived ideas you have, whether by school or by culture and how can you part ways with those, even for a moment to entertain this exercise. Now this is not going to be easy, but let's assume for just a moment that you have been able to do that and it didn't take you much time, just a few minutes. You've got a notebook and a piece of paper, whether you're journaling or on a run, just dream a little bit.
One of the things that has to be put squarely on the table is what you decide for yourself ought not to matter to other people. It does, but who it really ought to matter to is you. And in this moment, your... And I understand you can be tethered to all kinds of external factors, family and obligations, but at our core we get one life.
So I want you to be able to be honest and to let your effort, the amount of time and energy that you want to work, match your ambition. And recognize that at the end of our lives, this one precious life, if you are telling yourself you want to work and in your heart you really don't, it probably means you haven't found your passion or that you have a lens on life that is excellent for you, which is that to me is just as beautiful.
There are ways that you can operate in this world to minimize the amount of work that you do and maximize your time in nature, who you get to spend time with, how you choose to spend your time. I want you just to be honest with what is your threshold for work? And if you could find something you're excited about or you'd have found something, and you want to work really hard, that's great.
If you have found that thing and you want to work just enough to be able to have a rich life that does not depend largely on having a big bank account, those are decisions that you ought to consider. And if you're stuck right now, I believe that you probably haven't addressed these enough. And key to this is I'm not trying to preach where on the ambition scale should yours land.
I just want you to be realistic that the effort needs to match the ambition. If you want to be one of the top photographers in the world, if you want to build a billion dollar company, or if you want to raise your own food and food for yourself and your neighbors in your backyard, or on a farm, that's still really, really hard work. But just know that your effort ought to match your ambitions.
And when I see people very discontent is when that is out of whack. Now, sort of the last bullet point here is recognizing that what matters most is not only how hard can you grind. You've heard me talk about working smarter rather than just harder. The reality is people who are world-class at anything work their asses off and you will have to too. You are not special, well you are special, but just not in that way.
Hard work is required if you want to be world-class. Understand that what matters most is consistency, sustained effort over time, rather than sprints and stops. And that may be a part of it for sure, but I encourage you to love the process. Embrace and welcome the process.
Because again, all we have is a series of now. And if you're deferring your happiness, if you're deferring your health, if you're deferring these fundamental human experiences for some future, you will not be successful and you will not be fulfilled.
The flip side is if you can put consistent effort in over time, which is one of the reasons I think you should endeavor to do work that you like, then you will love the process. And if you love the process, then doing that work can be joyful, however much work you decide to put in.
And I would add that being emotionally, slightly disconnected from the outcome, again, loving the process, being disconnected from the outcome is one of the things that I have learned. A cornerstone of this process is understanding, how hard do you want to work?
Now, an example, if I asked myself, if I was interviewing myself here I would say, hey, has there been a time chase when you've worked too much, not enough? What were the results? And how did I shift? The reality is what I'm sharing with you right now has taken me a lifetime to learn.
I have a slightly different and more nuanced lens on just working hard or not working hard. And I put it out in a video, that I recommend if this topic that I'm sharing with you on today is interesting, this idea of work-life balance. I did a video on my YouTube channel which... Be good to be subscribed. I got some zingers coming up here in the distant future.
The video is called Work/Life Balance Is A Myth. And what I preach in that is harmony. Not balance, but harmony. And so if I take the question that I just asked myself a moment ago, has there been a time when I've worked too much or not enough? What were the results?
Life, my particular work-life has been a series of working too hard and then crashing, and then working too hard and getting sick. And then you enter like, well, why don't you just do the sustained effort over time? Well, like that chart in my book Creative Calling, where I talk about making good decisions over time, you're going to be successful in some of those decisions and unsuccessful in others.
But the goal, whether it be decisions or I'm applying that to this conversation here, the goal is just a positive slope, right. That line of good decision quality, or here the line of getting smarter about what you need. How hard you personally want to work, and to what end for what goals, is my life matches this.
It is just been getting better. I've been getting smarter over time. I look at myself in my '20s and I was not healthy. I did not have this understanding, which is why I'm making a show about it today. So, check out that video. Do a little bit of this homework, especially if you're feeling stuck or especially if you're wondering if you're working too hard or not hard enough.
This little process, even just, again, 30 minutes with this podcast and doing some journal entries and some thinking over whatever interim, whatever period, just do a little bit of this work because I believe that most people I encounter, they take the default status.
They take the lowest common denominator. They take what just bobs along in the tide of life. That is their cork. But I promise you, the lives, the people that you look up to, respect and appreciate whether they're close to you, they're your next door neighbor or they're someone on the internet, me or Brené Brown or Arlan Hamilton, it matters not.
I believe that most of the people in the world think that the people that they admire just happened to get lucky. When the reality is, if you know anything from listening to this show, that these lives are designed. These outcomes are planned and there's all kinds of fortune. There's all kinds of luck but by and large deciding what you want to do, be or become, is a proactive thing. And this exercise, this show is part of it.
Now, I wanted to leave with a couple of quotes because I think this stuff matters. And I think these quotes, they are two quotes and they go really nicely together. So, I'm just going to merge them.
And they're by a cat named Steve Jobs. "Your time is limited. So, do not waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other people's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I have ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Almost everything, all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking that you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."
Signing off for this micro show. I hope you've enjoyed it. If you have thoughts or questions, please, you know where to find me on the internet. Text me, AppMe, shoot me a DM. I will do everything I can to respond. I hope you've enjoyed the show but more importantly, I hope you do this work.
Signing off for this particular episode. I can't wait to be in your ears again for the next show. Until then, like every time I sign off, I bid you adieu. All right, real quick. Hey, before you go, if you know anything about me or my work, you know how deeply I believe in the power of creativity.
It's so core for a successful fulfilling life. I mean, that life can not be built by accident, right. That's only an accumulation of intentions and daily choices and actions and the stories we tell ourselves about what's possible with this one precious life.
Well, I want you to know that I wrote a book specifically about this. And if you enjoy the show and you don't yet have the book, I think you ought to, because I think it's an incredible companion to all the work, the 10 years we put into making this show.
The book is called Creative Calling. You can get it, of course at Amazon or your local bookshop or anywhere where books are sold or at creativecalling.com. But there is a creative process. I outline in the book a series of daily habits. It's very, very actionable. And again, wherever you are on your path, whether you're just starting out or you are a veteran.
If that book doesn't add value to your life, I mean, there's hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of five star reviews on Amazon. So if that book doesn't add value in your life, then you can message me personally. And I will get your 15 bucks back for the hardback edition.
I just want you to know that if you're new here or you haven't checked out the book, please do. And let me know what you think. All right, thanks again. And we'll see you, the next episode.
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