what makes you happiest

Working Hard is Overrated. Focus and Consistency is What I Prefer

Erik Entrepreneurship, Side Hustle, Thoughts of a Mastermind 9 Comments


Earlier this week, I was having a conversation with my girlfriend. She is trying to hustle in her endeavors, but isn’t finding as much success as she would have liked.

She looked at me and said, “I have a love/hate looking at the work you do in your time. You have such a great work ethic and work so hard. Working harder is what brings success, but it’s tough for me.”

I sat there for a second and thought.

As I’ve increased my hustle, it’s been very interesting to see the distribution of time spent over the last few years. With more hustles, am I working harder? OR am I just super focused and consistent? Maybe it’s just preferred terminology, but I don’t think I’m any working harder than anyone else. Maybe longer or maybe more frequently, but not sure harder is the right adjective.

Side hustle success is all about doing what you want with you time and looking to provide value for others. Making an impact and potentially getting paid for your efforts will result in gains outside of your day job, accelerating your path to success.

In this post, I will be recapping this month on side hustles, talk about focus, consistency, and the myth of working hard in the 21st century. Finally, talk about why having an action based mindset is critical for getting ahead in today’s world.

The Myth of Working Hard in the 21st Century

Let me tell you another story – a story about a co-worker of mine.

This particular co-worker and I were working on similar projects spanning a few months, and had different takes on a piece of code to run and forecast our new models. I had written a piece of code I thought was right, and he had a similar piece of code which I had identified some differences in.

After a meeting with our manager, I told him I’d help him out and put his models into my code (it would take me about an hour to do), and he wouldn’t need to worry about it.

It was about 5 PM, and I said I’d handle it the next morning. This wasn’t a pressing matter, but we were coming up on the deadline in a few weeks. He went over to his cube and started fixing things in his code.

I walked over and said, “Hey, don’t worry. I’ll handle it tomorrow in the first hour – go enjoy your night.”

The comment I got back was a little bit interesting… “I want to prove I’m the hardest working person here, so I’m going to be here late.”

I went home and the next morning, came in and fixed what the discrepancy was in my version and ultimately, we used my version because it was faster and produced more reliable results.

Who gained here? I’m not sure (but I do remember getting a nice night’s sleep that night). Working smarter, not harder, was a good idea to put into practice here (and I’d say everywhere…)

Two questions I want to explore more here: what does working harder even mean? And, is working harder better than some other alternative?

What does working hard even mean?

Having a strong work ethic is a very admirable trait. The defintion of work ethic is all about prioritizing work and putting it front and center in your life.

But, what does working hard mean and why is it seemingly tied to having a strong work ethic?

On this website, I publish 4 pieces of content each week: 3 blog posts and 1 podcast episode. While this takes me about 10 hours a week to do, I don’t consider this to be hard work. I sit in the comfort of a $65 chair in my 3 bedroom house for 10 hours and type on a plastic keyboard.

Hard work isn’t typing on a plastic keyboard.

new office with ikea

While I’m being a little bit over the top here, I don’t know what hard work is and I think it goes back to the days of more physical and hands-on labor: cleaning things, creating physical things by hand, and being active.

Hard work is moving a rock from the backyard to the frontyard. Hard work is scrubbing toilet after toilet in a hotel. I don’t think hard work is putting out 3 posts a week.

Is it hard? Sure. Is it work? Maybe. What is work? I don’t know (and now I’m getting off track 🙂 )

Focus and Consistency will Bring Success

“Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.” – Albert Einstein

Instead of working hard, I believe focus and consistency are the keys to success in 2018. As I mentioned, typing on a computer isn’t necessarily hard work, but to get a lot done, focus is required.

This year, one of my goals is to post 3 times a week. This month, I posted 3 times a week all on the subject of side hustles. Here are all of the posts from this month:

Each of these posts have tips and tricks for you to incorporate into your side hustles. I’m a busy person who is finding success in his day job, side hustles, and businesses. It’s taken time, but most importantly, a dedication to focus and consistency.

At the same time though, I’m just an ordinary guy living in Minnesota. For example, writing 3 times a week on this blog isn’t rocket science, but it does take some discipline. My point here, is that in all of my hustles, I’m not doing anything special. I’m just doing what matters (as my friend Chad Carson says).

I just so happen to have established the habits of focus, consistency and taking action, and all of these will lead to massive success over time.

In the past 3 years, I’ve made over $55,000 from my hustles. What could you do?

Take Action Today and Become an Overnight Success

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.” – Chinese Proverb

Let’s look at the month of August at The Mastermind Within.

Again, I didn’t do anything special. I wrote 12 posts for us in this Side Hustle series –  a post for each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Writing a blog post doesn’t take any special skills (and actually, I went to college for math; take that teacher who gave me a B- in writing!).

I’m just an ordinary guy, doing ordinary things.

Guess what?

You have amazing talent and potential.

Reach a little higher and tap into that potential.

Show the world your talents and skills; take action today and do something amazing.

If you are at all interested in entrepreneurship and side hustling, it’s critical you take action today. Taking action can be in any shape or form – doing research on your product, learning about accounting and finance, or registering a domain and learning some HTML/CSS.

I have a friend at work who is like-minded and always telling me about his “great” ideas. Every week, he comes up with some new idea that will make $1,000s of dollars once launched. Each time, I think to myself, “I don’want to rain on your parade, but without taking action, your ideas are just ideas.” I’d say I think they are decent ideas, but I’d have to test them out – is there a market for this product or idea?

I’ll be frank – ideas are worthless. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t dream, or try to come up with something unique. What my comment means, is that when we have an idea, we need to pursue it, and we need take action today.

Learning, experience, and success come from the actions taken each and every day. 

You won’t become an overnight success tomorrow. With that said, there’s still hope; maybe in 5 years, you’ll be the new media darling and overnight success!

Concluding Thoughts on this Month of Side Hustling on The Mastermind Within

Your philosophy creates your attitudes, which create your actions, which create your results, which create your life.” – Jeff Olson

I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s content in August.

Remember: simple daily actions and disciplines WILL add up to massive results over time.

Doing something once won’t be enough.

Doing something twice isn’t either.

Performing something daily for weeks and months? I know you’ll get there.

Readers: how are you applying the concept of compounding and simple daily disciplines? Have you seen compounding take place in your life or finances? What was your favorite article in the side hustle series?


Share this awesome post:

Comments 9

  1. This is what’s key with you man – it’s those small actions, day by day, that add up. I like how your story isn’t one of, how I became a superstar in one month like a lot of stuff you see out there. For most people, it’s the small actions each day. You can’t see it, but it just keeps adding up.

    Also, you are a machine man!

    1. Post
  2. You know I work way less hours these days for way more money then I did in my early twenties. But I also get way more done. I’d say my work per dollar hasn’t changed. Sometimes I feel guilty cutting out early. Then I look at my accomplishments versus then. I no longer feel guilty. Work smarter not harder.

    1. Post

      It’s kind of crazy to think about that and yes, I’m kind of the same way where it took a lot of time and accomplishment to get there – certainly nothing to be ashamed of!

    1. Post
  3. The blue-collar upbringing in me wants to stress that working hard is the key to success. Mike Rowe, that guy from Dirty Jobs, always says, “Work harder AND smarter.” I think that is super important. 🙂
    As far as adding value, I am having mental blocks where I feel like I have no value or anything to add to my employer, the blogging world, etc. A lot of people feel this way, I’m sure. You CLEARLY have skills that so easily translate to real-world application… WHAT IF PEOPLE DON’T?! You say you just an “average” guy, but I don’t buy that. 🙂
    This sounds like an interesting idea for a podcast if I do say so myself.

    1. Post

      I’m average in that when you look at me, you wouldn’t expect wild success. While yes, I’ve been fortunate for many things to line up in my life, I’ve also had to work and focus on what I thought would be a good choice 🙂 I chose math, then finance, then programming. I didn’t always get it right, but other time, leveraged my knowledge from past areas and put it into practice for the better 🙂

  4. Agree that consistency and persistence are very important in business and in life (exercise, relationships, etc). Now in my 40’s I can see how the consistency of early saving really helped us reach FI. On the flip side, I can see how the consistency of my love for snacks helped me gain half a pound a year on average — so it cuts both ways! In business, you often need both — consistency for sales, marketing, and delivery, but also bursts of hard work for delivering a new product or at busy seasons of the year (depending on what you offer).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.