Hard work is hard.
And this is a good thing, as only a few are ready to do that.
But that is not enough.
Working hard sets you apart
Marketers are trained to segment and target their TG and build differentiation in their communication to cut the noise. Similarly, people who are ready to work hard and do work hard stand out from the crowd – making it all the more likely that they’ll succeed in their space.
However, there’s no denying that when we work hard, we do it to achieve some end goal, some reward. We have evolved like that, and our brains are hard-wired to choose efforts that lead to pleasure and rewards.
This puts focus on the goals that we set for ourselves. Winning a competition, learning a new instrument or language, getting a job or a pay raise, or closing a business deal are goals or rewards that we work towards. The reasons or motivations for us setting these goals up may be intrinsic or extrinsic.
Rewards and motivation
The famous Stanford University experiment with kids sheds light on the importance of having intrinsic motivation. They introduced a reward mechanism in select kids that loved drawing anyway. Once the kids got used to the reward they used to get after completing the drawing, they took it away. The results were that the kids either stopped drawing or drew less often than earlier when there was no external reward.
The kids liked the results (their drawings), but they also enjoyed the process and efforts that went into achieving the results (they loved drawing). Ability to access pleasure from efforts and not just rewards is a powerful driver.
Goal: destination or journey?
A destination does not always need to be our goal because there could be a vacuum once we reach there. When you are so fixated on the destination, it doesn’t take much for the sense of accomplishment to be replaced by the lack of motivation to move forward. Dopamine is released when we achieve what we set out to do, which boosts stimulation. But that pleasure does not last long. It is short-lived and fades away quickly if not supplemented through a continuous cycle of setting goals and achieving them.
It’s important to find pleasure in the efforts that go into completing tasks rather than just the results. This is why we need to focus on what lies at the end of every journey — the journey itself. We should enjoy and be driven by the process more than its outcome. Our goal should be how we could be better at traversing the path.
The intrinsic reward of hard work
Because when we focus on getting better than yesterday, we stay motivated and driven. We keep the competition alive with ourselves and become better people in the process. That makes hard work worth it – the knowledge that you are becoming a better version of yourself and enjoying the process while at it. That’s what hard work is all about.
This is why it’s essential to recognize the intrinsic reward of hard work, not just external gains. The pleasure of mastering a skill, seeing progress over time, and reaping the benefits of achieving your goals are all part of this intrinsic reward system that makes hard work worthwhile.
Hard work isn’t just an obligation; it can be a profound source of satisfaction and joy. And if you don’t take pleasure in the process, staying motivated will be much harder, especially when times get tough.