Working Hard: Write Your Own Rules

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I want to be a hard worker.

I want people to be like “Hey, that girl Stella worked HARD to be where she is today”

Or maybe something like, “Oh, Stella? Yeah, I like her hair… and she’s SO hard working”…

Actually fuck other people. How about this: I want to look in the mirror and be totally blown away by my hard work. I want to KNOW I’m a hard working mofo, and if you’re reading this, you probably want to know it about you too.

So how come at the end of the day I default on feeling so unproductive and empty? It doesn’t matter how many emails I got through, how much sewing I got done, or how many items I listed online. It always feels like I could have done more.

I foolishly laugh off the notion that I work hard when it comes as a compliment from those around me. “It’s easy to think that when they only see my accomplishments”, I whisper to myself while I politely accept their praise, but then spit it out like a pill I wasn’t willing to swallow, and slide it under the rug with my shoe. Do I really work that hard? And if am working hard, what does not working hard look like?

I’ve never been great at pulling all nighters, yet I can’t help but romanticize the idea of staying up for 48 hours to produce some kind of life-changing work. I read about creatives taking solo retreats to finish their big projects, and suddenly working hard seems like a commodity that I can’t obtain. If I’m not taking 4 months off to rent an Air bnb in the remote countryside, is my project ever REALLY going to get done? (Sidenote: It didn’t work for Jack Torrance, so in my negligence, I’ve at least avoided an accidental axe murdering spree).

We link hard work to success. BIG success. When the irony is that some of the hardest working people in the world benefit the least from their efforts. From factory workers, to single parents, to single parent factory workers, staying alive looks like 3 jobs, 10+ hour shifts, and a paycheck that will barely stretch until next week. I grew up in a single parent household like this, and my mom wasn’t around much to do mom stuff because she was working too damn hard.

I realized the other day that I was unable to actually define what it meant to work hard because we only reward the hard workers that somehow come out on top. We forget about those other equally dedicated folks that can’t always make the rent, don’t have a vacation fund, and honestly, sometimes don’t even have a home to sleep at.

Working hard looks different for everybody. When I saw things that way, I began to understand that EVERYONE is working hard at SOMETHING, because everyone has a goal. And that means, just because another person’s goal is not your goal, doesn’t mean they’re not working their ass off to get where they’re going just like you.

And yes, I said YOU. Because even though you might not be pulling all nighters, taking business calls on the freeway, networking at the bar after work, or planning your next instagrammable Hawaiian vacation with all the cash you earned last month, doesn’t mean you’re not working hard at your OWN goals in your OWN way.

When I realized I couldn’t define what it meant to work hard, I decided to make a list of what working hard looks like to me. So I’m sharing that list here– not so you can live up to my expectations of what hard work means, but so you can feel inspired to define working hard for yourself. After all, it’s your life. You get to make the rules.

Working Hard

  • Getting up early every day with the goal of giving myself lots of time to do the things I want to do each day.

  • Planning each day out in advance to ensure I’m on the right track.

  • Sticking to my schedule as I work so I get more accomplished.

  • Not allowing distractions to derail me while I’m working.

  • Completing one task before jumping to the next, instead of leaving a trail of loose ends behind me.

  • Trying at least three methods when faced with a problem before moving on or calling it quits.

  • Being grateful for my body, my situation, my mind, and my life that allows me to work toward my goals.

  • Being financially responsible and also profit-driven within my ventures, with the goal being financial freedom and honestly, just freedom in general.

  • Giving myself regular breaks, chill time, and also rewards for working so dang hard.

  • Taking my big problems into my own hands, and finding active solutions instead of just moping and complaining.

  • Getting dressed and caring for myself everyday so I can be the best I can be.

  • Listening, instead of turning inward when learning a new skill. It’s okay to not know everything, and it’s okay to be a beginner.

  • Having faith in myself and faith in those around me. Having faith in the universe.

  • Choosing love.

  • Being true to who I am, whatever that is…

  • Taking time.

So now you know what working hard looks like for me. Heck, now I know too! What does working hard look like for you? Make a list this week, and then get crackin’. Cause you worked hard to get here, and you’re only just getting started.

Stella Rose Saint Clair