Incremental Progress over Intense Sprints

Incremental Progress over Intense Sprints

5 min read

Since I’ve discovered my motivation to achieve something in life rather than just wasting my time with leisure, bad nutrition and alcohol in my early 20s, I’ve always wanted to be one of those guys that say about themselves, that they work “really really hard”. You know, like Gary Vaynerchuk, Elon Musk or any other guy you can find in those inspirational Youtube videos. They always tell you that “hard work” was the key to their success and I’ve always wondered what that even means. What is considered hard work? Ok, guys like Gary V or Elon Musk seem to literally work from morning till evening every day, but for an average person? Does it mean you have to put in 10h of focused work every single day?

Whatever the benchmark is, i don’t feel like i work hard and i never did. I had people telling me before that my output was crazy in some things i did and i definitely was able to produce much more than what seemed to be average in some areas, but i feel like really hard work was never necessary to do that. If I ever actually work 10 hours in a day, I most likely don’t do the same on the next day again.

And here’s the thing:

Whenever I tried to force myself to put in hours that really were far out of my comfort zone, the hours that were considered “really hard work”, i burned out. I lost complete interest in what I did and it sucked all the fun out of it. It always was a terrible experience that eventually fired back. And all the benefits I gained from these intense sprints of hard work were eventually lost when I couldn’t go on anymore. Something that started as fun, eventually turned into a depressing chore.

On the other hand, when I look back, the things that I had most success with, were the ones that I put a more reasonable amount of work in. The ones where i found a pace that I could work with long term. Maybe not in my comfort zone, but not too far out of it. And that’s for sure not 60 hours of focused work per week. And often times people would still tell me that i get a lot done.

I think consistency is infinitely more important than hard work. Not losing interest is the key, rather than putting in crazy hours. In the past years I noticed how much you can accomplish if you just keep doing something, even if you half ass it. Not saying that you SHOULD half ass what you do, but make sure you can keep it up and don’t work so hard that you eventually quit completely. I even go so far to say that you should be careful in times when you are highly motivated, because this state won’t be permanent. There will be times where you have low motivation, no matter what you do. And THIS is where it matters. Everyone can work hard when they are motivated and inspired, everyone has fire in his heart after he just watched a motivational Youtube video, but very few people can do something over a long period of time. I can only speak for myself and I guess there are people that can really go hardcore and skyrocket their progress even more and I really wish I was one of them, but for me this never worked. I have to make sure that I don’t lose interest in what I do. That I don’t burn out. And this happened to me multiple times before, so I am really careful now.

Another important benefit of this approach is, that it reduces procrastination. Your task or project is much less daunting when you tell yourself that a few minutes of focused work are much better than nothing (and they are). If you instead give yourself the feeling that you have to put in crazy hours or otherwise you will not consider it a success, you will be much more prone to putting it off. And these first few focused minutes ARE more valuable than the time afterwards.

I am also pretty sure that a lot of people either overestimate the hours they put in or straight up lie about it. I had people telling me they work hard every day after coming back from 4 week vacations. What they actually mean is, they work hard every day for a few weeks, then they compensate it with long holidays. Or they work for 60 hours one week and then 10 hours the next. Or if they are employed, they say they work 50 hours, but what they actually mean is, they are at their work place for 50 hours, but not all of that is work. Ok enough of that. I think it’s clear what I mean. Just take it with a pinch of salt when others talk about their hard work and the crazy hours they put in.

While I am typing this, i’m actually scared that I eventually lose interest in this blog and my Youtube channel. At the moment I enjoy it, but that doesn’t mean I am safe. It is so incredibly hard to keep something up for a long period of time. The Dip inevitably comes. There is even a book about that phenomenon. But I want to prove myself, that I am able to do it. It’s end of 2017 now. If you read this post in the future, take a look at my most recent post. Is my blog still active? Is my Youtube channel still active? I hope yes, because that means I was able to keep it up. That I kept a pace I can work with. If that’s the case, please leave me a comment on my newest post and remind me of this post here. I would really be happy about that 🙂

If you don’t have a problem with hard work and long hours, ignore my post. I know that my case doesn’t mean everyone is the same. I don’t intent to pull anyone on my level of laziness to make myself feel better. I just share my experiences. But no matter what you do, don’t quit unless you have clear reasons for it. If you are just unmotivated or feel like you make too little progress, keep it up and remember that small regular steps are all you need.

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