HWDAPO: Hard work doesn’t always pay off


Hard work pays off.

Hashtag trending.

Yes it does, but a vital and often overlooked truth about success is that when you’re doing what you should be doing, it won’t feel like hard work.

When I was coming up as a rugby player, I would train 1-3 times a day, and play matches on Wednesday (for college), Saturday (for my men’s team) and Sunday (for my u18s team).

People would say I was dedicated and tell me how amazed they were that I worked so hard.

I felt odd about this.

I kind of knew that what I was doing was hard.

I was obsessed with training to failure at this point and would do so in all my private training sessions.

The thing is, it didn’t feel hard.

I just did what I wanted to do.

I loved rugby, I loved training, and I wanted to get better at both, so I did whatever I needed to make that happen.

It was never a chore to me.

Fast forward half a decade, and the same exact processes had begun to feel like ‘effort’. They were draining me.

Being the stubborn and at times inflexible person that I was/am, I kept pushing at things that were draining me until I got hurt, sick and mentally ill.

If I had my time again, I would have taken a moment, listened, and worked out what I really wanted. I would have questioned why I felt such a strong need to be good at these things. I would have realised that my identity was so dependent on success in these domains that I was willing to do myself great harm.

Don’t be like me. If you want to be brilliant at something, you should pick something that doesn’t feel like work.

NB: yes there will be times when even your truest love becomes testing. Fine. There’s a big difference between the odd boring/crumby session and a daily feud with your desires/ intuition.

Moral of the story:

Energy is not a fixed quantity.

When you’re doing activities that line up with your deepest desire, your stock of energy expands exponentially.

Conversely, when you’re doing stuff you don’t really like, your stock of energy diminishes real fast.

Moving forward

Take the time to work out what you actually care about.

You’ll be happier, healthier, and have a more positive impact on the world.

To do this, as always, the first step is awareness.

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