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After the Jump: The Value of Hard Work

by Grace Bonney

This week’s radio show dealt with a topic that I’ve been wanting to touch on for a while, and am only beginning to scratch the surface of: the importance of hard work. One of the things I’m asked the most frequently is how to get from point A to point B the fastest. People want to know shortcuts, tricks and any idea that they think will let them skip right to the “fun part” of their dream job. But in reality, that “fun part” isn’t as fun if you haven’t learned and grown at a pace that allows you to adjust to the difficulties and hurdles of running your own business. While it’s not as buzzy or exciting, pushing through the really tough early stages of any job is almost always rewarding in a way you can’t always see coming.

One of the most valuable tools any business owner has is the support system of colleagues, co-workers and friends around them. And I feel strongly that to build those connections, you need to have shared experiences and struggles. So today’s show is all about the importance of hard work, how to push through it and how to find the value in difficult situations and apply it to your work (and life) as you move forward. Amy and Max joined me on-air for this show to share their tips and thoughts and I think you’ll really enjoy them. Thanks so much for listening! xo, grace

LISTEN: You can download the podcast on iTunes here, or stream it here on Heritage Radio

Click through for some tips from the show and tips about pushing through hard work!

Tips from Amy:

1. Use Your Mornings

Your willpower decreases throughout the day (diets are broken in the evening not the morning), so after a good night’s sleep, the morning is the best time to tackle the things you really want to get done.

For me, I do the thing that I really want to get done- the thing that is outside my normal duties- first thing in the morning. I read a book called “What the Most Successful People do Before Breakfast” (by Laura Vanderkam) recently that looks at how to squeeze a little more out of your morning. Using the morning to nurture your career, your family or yourself is a great way to get through stretches of work or tasks you need to get done while your mind is fresh and awake.

How to Carve out Morning Time
1. Track your time – you may be too tired in the morning because you’re staying up too late.
2. Don’t use your precious morning time for emails. Most people don’t expect a response at 6am
3. Picture your perfect morning
4. Think through the logistics and map out your morning schedule

2. Build a Habit by Charting Your Progress

Don’t Break the Chain – this is something that I’ve unknowingly always done. I love logging my accomplishments. For my Spanish, I practice every day. And it turns out, I’ve been unknowing using a technique from Jerry Seinfeld. Seven years ago, Lifehacker did a story on Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity secret, which is to put an ‘X’ on a big wall calendar every day that you work on something. After a few days you won’t want to ‘break the chain’ and you’ll keep pushing through the work or practice you need to keep doing.

3. Start Small

I can certainly be my own worst critic, but I’m also my own best cheerleader. So I try to encourage myself by repeating ‘if you don’t get started it’s not going to get done’. I try to make tasks bite-sized and sometimes it’s just as easy as reminding myself that small steps are what get you closer to the finish line.

4. Change Your Scenery

I usually do my writing for Design*Sponge on my sofa or in our office. If I’m trying to do other work, I use my dining room table. Sometimes the simple act of changing desks or your view can help you get through a tough patch of work.

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  • I loved this show. This series has been awesome — I didn’t know I could enjoy After the Jump more than I already do, but this season has stepped it up.

    I especially appreciated the comment Max made about taking pride in your work, no matter the task. I am finishing my PhD in urban planning, and I find that sometimes in order to justify to myself how hard I am working on it, I start to say things that place a higher value on the work that I am doing than on other kinds of work.

    While it’s true that there are reasons that I’ve chosen the work that I’m doing right now over other options, I try to remind myself not to devalue other’s choices. I think it goes to something else that you talk about a lot, Grace, which is remembering that work is only one part of who we are as people. So what I thought of as a menial job I got on the way to my larger professional goals might be someone else’s end game, but that person may also not place as large a value on their professional identity, either by choice or by necessity.

    Does anyone else catch themselves sometimes putting down other people’s choices without realizing it in an effort to explain your own? It’s something I’m working on, so feedback welcome!

  • This podcast was amazing! I’m a millennial and my company is having issues with the entitlement of our generation. I was literally discussing this with my manager this afternoon. I believe in hard work and it’s great to hear some validation on that principle. I’m working a lot right now and it’s great to here some motivation. Thank you so much!!! You guys are great!

  • Changing scenery! Yes! If it’s possible. As a designer I have to be sitting where my computer is. So it gets easy to get distracted if I am not interested in being in that space. But I agree, a change in scenery, even if it’s just a quick 5 minute stretch in the sun can help get you recharged for pushing forward with a task at hand. Great article.

  • Thank you so much for choosing this topic to talk about. I am an Albanian and I am a three-time immigrant who lived in Madrid, London, and now NYC. Always in learning about cultures, languages and values of each society. It has been always hard for me. As soon as I learned one language and I was pretty comfortable with it I had to move.

    I just started a new business making candles and there are days I feel not as optimistic as I should or disappointed especially when I upload a new blog and I see no comments were made or product liked.
    I have learned so much from this article and I feel so much better.I have to keep reminding my self that I just started this business and not many people know about it yet and instead of getting disappointed I need to think about ways how to attract you to come back to me with comments, with your experiences and so on.