Dispelling the Myth That the Path to Success Has to Suck

Push. Push. Push. If you only push harder, success will be yours. Right?

There seems to be this belief that the harder something is, the more you gain from it, and the better you’ll be for enduring it. The harder work is, the more successful you’ll be. No way can you be successful if you actually (gasp!) enjoy your work.

It’s like going to the gym and forcing yourself to do set after set even though it makes you miserable. Sure, those squats are going to make you stronger. But, so would taking a Zumba class or riding your bike every day.

The point is: You don’t have to be miserable to achieve your goals. In fact, the opposite is true: You’ll become more successful – and more likely to achieve your goals – when you do something you enjoy.

Allow Room for Fun

There is something to working hard to make it to the finish line.

Struggle and sacrifices are vital aspects of success. For FSU psychology professor Anders Ericsson, the key to becoming an expert at anything is “deliberate practice” which means stepping beyond your comfort zone to stretch your abilities.

Ericsson’s work inspired author Malcolm Gladwell to write the popular book Outliers, which claims that anyone putting in 10,000 hours of deliberate practice can become an expert at anything.

It’s perpetuated the myth that if you put in the hours, that’s all you need to succeed.

Repeating the same task for that long isn’t sufficient to achieve success, though. In fact, Ericsson’s work has faced scrutiny from other researchers, who claim that there’s more to success than repetition.

There’s a different approach to deliberate practice to consider.

Don’t burn out by focusing solely on one subject or skill mastery for five hours a day. Instead, approach your training and learning in smaller periods of time to retain and digest the information.

Try breaking up work with something you enjoy or treating yourself after reaching a goal. As long as you’re not focusing solely on the hard part, and allowing yourself to enjoy life while you’re at it, you’re going to be more successful.

Learn Energy Management

To dispel the myth of the struggle for success, you must change how you approach work and your relationships by valuing calming activities as much as high-pressure activities. You don’t have to function in high-pressure mode always. No one can continue to function at that level nor should they be expected to.

Rather than running at 110% all day, learn energy management — that it’s okay to put your phone down, step away from the computer and take five minutes for yourself.

If you don’t, you’re burning through your available energy and resources too quickly leading to severe exhaustion, resentment and depression.

Instead, distribute high-intensity and low-intensity activities evenly throughout the day to manage your time, energy and efficiency. Your day will be more enjoyable and so will your work.

Make the Path to Success Your Own

Stop being your worst critic and allow more self-compassion into your work.

By being compassionate to yourself and toward others, you’re giving yourself the chance to be successful. You’re aware of your energy reserves and are being honest with yourself and others while offering your resources to them.

When you’re criticizing yourself, you’re fighting your professional self-interest and not making the impact you could make in your career, in life or in others’ lives.

Don’t fight yourself. Cultivate your success by refining what “success” looks like for you and have fun doing it!

Don’t Go It Alone

It’s no secret that surrounding yourself with supportive people will make you happier, or that helping others will increase your own happiness.

The same is true at work. You don’t need to go it alone to achieve your own success.

In reality, the concept of mutuality is the true hallmark of success. So, remember and honor the golden rule. Become a proactive contributor in your professional network. When you share wisdom, resources, information and jokes with other professionals, your network remains active and plentiful to give and receive.

Building relationships also improves work culture and reduces your boredom and stress levels at the office.

Don’t isolate yourself. Spend time networking and getting to know your coworkers. Grab lunch with your cubicle buddy or ask to tag along at your boss’ next networking event. You’ll be helping their career and yours.


How did you define success in the past? How will you redefine it, starting today? Comment below! For more career success tips, subscribe to Punched Clocks.

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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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