What is your definition of hard work? Is it setting a goal to complete a project by X date and then working extra hard to get it done sooner? Or is it committing to doing something every single day and watching, over time, as your work gets better and better?
Are you being driven by external factors? How many followers do you receive each day vs. how many people un-follow you? Or is it internal? Taking a look back at where you were yesterday, where you are today, knowing that your knowledge has grown as a result?
What if you fall short of getting so many followers by such a date, has all your work still been for naught and should be thrown away?
What if when you achieve that goal? Did the hard work pay off? Did it make a difference? Was the goal too easy?
There is only ONE way any of us can tell if our hard work is paying off – taking a snapshot.
Snapshots: How To Know When Your Hard Work Has Paid Off
Take a snapshot of where you are today on your goal. If you’re learning a new language, how many words do you know today? If you want to lose weight, how much do you weigh now? If you want to get promoted at work, what position are you currently in?
Take that snapshot by writing it down, taking a photo, or doing both. You can even record a video of yourself to know where you are starting from.
Now don’t take it and post it in front of your computer or exercise bike. Instead, put it away. Perhaps on the back of it, write down where you want to be when you look at this again.
Depending on how long you want to work at it, set a target, a month, maybe two, and go work on it. Set a calendar alarm to alert you when it’s time to check your snapshot. Set a schedule, do something, make something, create something.
When that time is up, pull out the photo and look back at where you were – has the hard work paid off? Are you where you want to be? Still not there? Then get back to work.
But what about gains? Because this is key; life is not all or nothing, it is about gains, progress, and growth.
For instance: I’ve been trying to improve my sketching skills for the past few years. But despite trying to do 30 minutes a day (sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t), there are days when I think my work is never going to get anywhere.
That it’s never going to make sense, never going to look how I want it to. I’m in that erstwhile role of craptivity where nothing is working or makes sense. But I keep pushing on.
On each day that I sketch, I write down the date at the bottom of the page, so when I look back, I can see the improvements – bodies are more proportioned, legs look like legs, etc. etc. The work is paying off, but it’s taking longer than I thought, longer than I ever wished.
And that’s our biggest crisis of conscience when it comes to goals: it takes longer than you think – at work, in life, everything – it always takes longer than you think. But it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t give it our all, or that we shouldn’t keep going.
Did you think your hard work has already paid off? Why or why not?
Once you get past that notion of self-implemented time constraints and start to put in some legitimate snapshot reminders to show you far you’ve come, you’ll start to realize that your hard work is really paying off.
Yes, YOU are getting there.