Success is not the same for everyone. For some, success is having a 9 to 5 job and spending the rest of the day with family or just clubbing every night after a busy and stressful day.
For others, success is working 12 hours every day and always reaching for more.
However, it’s important to note that we don’t all experience success the same.
Yet, in the modern world, there is a common belief that success is having a full-time job, working high in the business hierarchy, having a large home, fast and newest car, and possessing the latest gadgets. What what we miss to see is that success is seen differently all across the globe.
For example, according to recent research, the happiest people are based in Bhutan.
Are they less successful just because they tend to focus on more spiritual than material aspects in their life?
How many times in the last six months have you heard a friend saying: ‘I don’t know what I’m doing, I feel as if I’m a robot’ or ‘I work so much during the week, that I miss seeing my children growing up’ or even ‘I’m not happy anymore with my job, but I can’t just quit… Benefits are good’ and so on.
The thing is that the era that we are living in – capitalism, creates this belief that if you don’t work all the time, you are not successful; therefore, you just don’t deserve things or a better life.
That’s how we got stuck in long working hours.
THE IMPERATIVE OF PRODUCTIVITY
Productivity matters… or so they’d have us think? But what type of productivity?
But is the productivity necessarily linked with long hours? Just recently, the world’s largest companies, including Microsoft and the most progressive countries in the world, including Sweden, started testing shorter working hours and fewer working days in a week.
So, if the most influential companies and the best-organized countries in the world can re-think, re-organize, and optimize their working cycle, why shouldn’t you?
After all, you wouldn’t be reading this is you were not thinking about having more time for yourself, right?
So, let’s tackle the matter of 70-hours long working week and see how you can boost your productivity for higher results (in less time) with proven and practical directions for a happier life.
Business in the 21st century is marked with one term – burnout.
Although there are many definitions of this term, the common understanding of the phrase is that burnout is a heightened state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by stress.
Moreover, long working hours and poor life-work balance lead to often burnouts in younger people each year.
Interestingly, no one, or just a rare few, tend to mention how leadership here plays a significant role.
Yes, the truth is that we are living in a world of democracy and choice, but also we are living in a world where leaders and leadership matters.
Therefore, role models are the primary factor when it comes to success and our understanding of success.
You don’t have to think hard on this one, just put more attention to the next movie you will watch (when you get the time, naturally), and everything will be clear:
You will see a director working long hours, with poor life-work balance, being at the office at 5 AM until 10 PM, during the workweek, and weekends too.
As a natural step, managers will follow the leading figure in the company.
Moreover, junior associates will follow the routine of their managers, and so on.
In no time, a vicious circle will be created, and you will be sucked in a never-ending 70-hours-long working week.
Professionals want results, and they see long working hours as a tool to achieve those results. Moreover, they are using leadership within the professional organizations to demonstrate the impulse of overworking and burnouts.
But, according to Laura Empson, and her book Leading Professionals: Power, Politics, and Prima Donnas, there is a clear ‘why’ people are working 70 hours a week, and why they think that makes them successful.
Calling out a professional elite for being insecure isn’t an easy task, especially since very few of them will actually admit that they are insecure.
However, living in a world where technology breakthrough happens overnight leads to the common belief that everything changes fast, and nothing is guaranteed.
So, in a world where businesses made a switch from local to the global market, it comes as no surprise that people are worried about their jobs, whether they are willing to say so or not.
That being said, insecurity is very much alive.
Moreover, even senior business leaders are feeling scared because they put themselves in their job more than 100%, and work hard, and yet feel insecure.
Productivity is hard to be measured.
Yes, there are numerous tools, spreadsheets, and formulas, but some industries are more specific than others to know just how much your role is significant within them.
Ice Cream man has to sell 20 cups of ice cream a day to know that he had a good day.
He or she knows exactly how the working day can be measured and what are the pain points, as well as the good points.
On the other hand, a lawyer may spend an entire day just researching while preparing for the case. We all know that saying: “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail,” but can we measure that kind of work?
So, insecurity quickly leads to fear and the feeling of being scared all the time.
Actually, professional on business organizations Empson dedicated an entire chapter of her book, to insecurity and how insecure professional is creating more insecure professionals.
Her finding is rather an interesting one because people believe that they are actually overworking by choice. They never blame their organizations but always choose to blame themselves.
Naturally, as a result, overachievers will become leaders of their organizations and replicate the system. Since they don’t know that they are insecure, they will act in a manner that will create more insecure workers and so on.
Empson also calls upon workers to search for more efficient approaches in work, for people to talk with one another and even together search for solutions that will save them time. She also nicely said:
“Work exceptionally long hours when you need to or want to, but do so consciously, for specified time periods, and to achieve specific goals. Don’t let it become a habit because you have forgotten how to work or live any other way.”
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, success is different for everyone.
For some, it’s health, for others new car, while some are still searching for their definition of success.
The most important thing that you should know about success is that the definition of success is different from everyone else’s, and it’s OK.
In a world where everyone talks about success in financial matters, it’s ok to have another definition of success. After all, it’s your life and your choice.
“Success is different for everyone; everybody defines it in their own way, and that’s part of what we do in ‘Close Up,’ finding what it was each person wanted to achieve and what their willingness to sacrifice for that was,” said William Shatner
Nowadays, people are struggling with anxiety and depression like never before. We are also working like never before. Perhaps there is a link between these two.
Also, we are constantly pressured to compare our lifestyle to others around us.
Although it’s useful and desirable to have successful people in your surroundings (this is also highly individual perception), but you should strive for your own success and perfection.
Be open to the learning process, and stick to your values. They are yours after all, and we should live based on them for a fruitful and abundant life.
Be in balance with your more profound sense of purpose. If that purpose is different than everyone else’s purpose, again, it’s OK – it is yours. That is how you should look upon success.
When you find yourself in doubt, or you feel like you are about to burnout, consider these forever vital questions: What is my definition of success? Does it lead to the abundant life that I want?
Before we continue with concrete steps on how you can work less, here’s a short story for you…
A SHORT REAL-LIFE SUCCESS STORY…
Just this summer, a guy decides to visit Greece. After all, he spent countless hours at work and spend so little time with his family (sounds familiar?!), thus rewarding them and himself this summer was a must.
He always wanted to see Greece (let’s say he’s also passionate about history, although he works as a business consultant full-time and far from any historical issues), explore their islands, and do whatever Greeks do.
So, after months of planning, he decided to visit Thassos. It’s a tourist island, but still quiet, and it looked perfect in the pictures.
For an authentic experience, the family agreed to stay in an apartment owned by the Krongou family and skip on the hotels. Everything was perfect.
One day, while exploring the island, he saw a massive line in front of this small and unsightly bakery. Naturally, he decided to join the line and check the products.
Once he entered the bakery, he saw only three products, two salt pastries, and something with a cherry. He bought one of each, and his mind was blown away. That was the best thing he ever sensed. So, he went the next day and the day after that.
On his 4th day of vacation, he asked the salesman, and the owner of the bakery if he planned to expand his business and make a franchise. The man looked at him as if he was asking him God knows what.
So, the guy looked at our protaognist, smiled briefly and replied: ‘Why would I do such a thing? I have everything that I need. My home is above my bakery. I know that each product is made by my own two hands. My family can step in when there is a rush. I open at 5 AM and I close at 3 PM. After work, I sit under the tree and play with my grandson. At night I play cards with my friends, and I get to dance with my wife before we go to bed. I’m thrilled with the way things are. I work hard, and I have a good life.’
You see, success is different in everyone’s life.
But if you really love your work, but you love your private life as well, you’re on the right path.
Now, let’s see how you can cut those long hours and live happier.
HOW TO CUT THOSE LONG HOURS
Money is not the only component that describes success. That being said, you can use different measures to determine success, such as:
- Work conditions
If you think about it, money is just something you convert your time and energy into. That’s why the expression goes that time is money. It’s the other way around too. Money is time.
The main difference between an employee and employer is that the employer found a clear way how to make more money while having people working for him or her. In other words, a businessman found or founded a system to work for him.
Now, don’t feel insecure if you are not your own boss. After all, not everyone thrives on being a director, regional manager os boss on any level, and it’s OK.
However, since you are your own boss of your working time (with a contract you get how many hours a day you should work), you can optimize those hours and make a flow that will go more in your favor. That being said, check out these seven ways to work less and get more.
7 WAYS TO WORK LESS AND BE HAPPIER
Working less is not mandatorily seen as a bad thing, or at least it shouldn’t be.
Working less in this concept means that you can optimize and automate some processes.
Furthermore, you can own working practice. With these simple steps, you can have control over your time and stress less or not at all.
Working less can even lead to an increased hourly rate even. After all, bosses love people who come to them with solutions and not problems.
Advance Your Working Habits
Think about your working hours as additional work that has to be well structured. After all, in each area, the right habits will lead to successful practices.
Getting up early and planning your project is crucial. Be at work on time and leave on time. Create a to-do list in the morning and cross out everything that’s done during the day.
Having clear goals will help you deal with everything that works throws on you. Do you want a better performance? Do you want a higher salary by the end of the year? By setting this huge goal, you are actually creating a master plan that will give you a better life.
Make sure that your business goals and linked with your goals in private life. If you are planning to move in two months to a different country, maybe you should think about aligning that goal with more specific business goals, such as – working to move to the company’s department in that same city?
That way, you will keep life-work balance by having supporting goals.
Break Big Tasks Into Smaller Steps
Let’s face it; the Eiffel Tower wasn’t built in a day.
You need to invest your time for great achievements. Big goals are known for being daunting, right?
Sometimes when we are looking at the big picture, we miss seeing what needs to be done in small steps.
So, it helps to have smaller steps that will lead eventually to a big goal.
Always break your goals and big tasks into manageable chunks.
Such an approach will help you work more efficiently, deliver on time, and leave you more free time!
Always Respect Your Working Hours
If you don’t respect your work time, no one will. As long as you let people put you in a situation that you HAVE TO stay longer, or work from home after work, that will continue. So, make sure that you give 100% at work and draw the line there.
The truth is that sometimes an emergency happens, and that’s the moment to step in. But, make sure that you communicate what you signed for.
Therefore, be respectful to your working hours, and other’s work time as well, and you will see change.
Manage your time and work right, and don’t waste your energy on countless emails.
Remember: when you respect your work time, the people around you will do the same.
Be Ahead of Your Work Time
How many days do you spend in your office only doing nothing or just staring at your computer? Or Thinking about work, but not knowing where to start?
This is not strange to many, because people don’t plan. Make a small day plan and list all the things that you have to do that day.
Start from the biggest and most demanding tasks and go on from there. Gary W.Keller and Jay Papasan wrote talked about the same principle in the book ‘The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results,’ about how a more comfortable life is when we deal with the most massive problems/tasks first.
So, the key takeaway from the book is that as soon as you come to work, you should write just ONE THING that you must do that day.
That one thing will enable you to achieve a significant task first and give you a feeling of a big achievement.
Be Sincere About Your Productivity
Knowing your limits and how well you deal with deadlines helps you achieve your goals on a daily level. So, do a task: measure time you need to make things done.
Write done starting time and end time after each time.
After every task, have a short reflection and ash yourself if some things could be done differently, or faster, or with fewer resources.
Boost your productivity with tracking. You can write down your time or use an app to help you with tracking.
Next time someone asks you can you stay longer at work doing something, you will already know if you can achieve it within your regular working time. Be ahead of your work tasks.
Keep Your Why On Your Mind
Always have why you started doing the job when things become tough. Also, when setting your work goals, ask yourself, ‘Why’?
Knowing and understanding your why will keep you motivated and help you overcome your fears and doubts. If you come to a situation where everything is confusing, you don’t feel happy or appreciated at work, think about your ‘why’ and does it matches your job.
If your inner purpose is far away from your everyday job, you will get caught in toxic surroundings, where you are overworking for something that you are not passionate about it.
Of course, if you discover that other tactics and approaches are more helpful, don’t be afraid to use them. Also, talk with your colleagues, maybe they can offer you a solution for better and happier workplace, or moreover you can help them.
Sometimes we don’t know that we can get help from someone or that someone can help us before. To understand those things, we have to approach them. So, make the step forward.
Fast forward to Empson’s book… She gave a smooth and 100% practical approach on how to deal with work and life balance, and moreover why self-care matters:
“If you are a leader, you have a responsibility not just to your firm but to the people who work within it. Help your colleagues to achieve their full potential, but do not allow yourself to exacerbate and exploit their insecurities. And remember that your ultimate “duty of care” is to yourself.”
Hopefully, now you’re equipped with knowledge that will allow you to shift between different perspectives on the phenomenon of success per se.
By changing the point of view, you may very well change what you’re looking at. Having said that, be reminded that success is not just about making the big $. It’s about time management, energy and health also.
Perhaps you’ll want to think of a system that will work for you so that it saves you the time and energy that you’ll invest in other enterprises.
That’s what differentiates businessmen from workers, but there’s another category to ponder on and that is the category of an entrepreneur.
The difference between a businessman and an entrepreneur is that the latter gives back to the society and strives to make the world a slightly better place to live in.
That’s why you should learn to love what you do and do what you love in order to increase the impact you make.