Hard Work is Wasted Without Direction

Some people get up everyday, go to work and come home, without ever thinking about their future. They may work very hard at their job, but something that I’ve reflected on recently is whether this is enough to become “successful”.

Before I get into my thoughts on this, it probably would be wise to go over how I define success. Success in a career, at least to me, means the following things increase:

  1. How much I make.
  2. The quality of the product I produce.
  3. The efficiency of my work.
  4. My knowledge base.

This list is not necessarily ordered from most important to least important. However, I do think they are all related.

At least for me, if I work hard at something that is not taking me towards a goal, then I will not do very well. The quality of the product I produce will go down and how efficient I am during the day will also go down. Not only that, but time seems to ssssslllllllloooooooowwwwww way down, which makes me miserable.

However, when I work at something that lights my fire (for example: managing web projects), hard work becomes very easy for me. I could go through a 10-12 hour day without meals and not even notice it. I love the feeling of getting through projects and having them meet deadlines where clients are happy.

This came to mind recently for me because I took on a position with the State of Montana that I new was not an exact fit. I thought that I could make it work and grow into it, but after a month or two of being there, I quickly felt like I was spinning my wheels. I was working hard, but I was not feeling very comfortable with where I would be in 5 years if I stayed at that position. So, I decided to quit that job and pursue a “more risky” career in a field that I’m familiar with: managing php based web projects. So now I am a contractor for a medium sized company as a senior developer and project manager. It was a very scary decision to leave a very good paying job with incredible benefits, to being self employed working for a medium sized company. If I simply wanted an “easy” job, I would have stayed where I was with the State job….but I do believe that my decision will have payed countless dividends 5-10 years from now.

Doing something that motivates me and keeps my mind going on a subject that interests me, will cause all four items above to increase dramatically (sometimes in a short period of time or in quick bursts). Hard work combined with focused intensity in pursuing a career that you enjoy, will make you successful.

Will I ever be the best in my field? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try!!!!