There’s no arguing that one of the most important qualities to becoming a success in any area is to have a strong work ethic, but what if you struggle with that? What if you find yourself wanting to be entertained rather than doing the necessary things to achieve success?
Take this scenario as an example…
You decide you want to start a business.
You imagine yourself leading a multi-million dollar company, being your own boss, helping so many people, and you even have great product and service ideas. When it comes time to sit down and build the business, you find yourself venturing off, somehow ending in the kitchen, in front of the television, or on the phone burning time.
Then, when you see ads that promote successful businesses with little to no work, you’re spending money on these opportunities in hopes there’s a shortcut somewhere, but they’re not turning out as you expected. You’ve tried:
- Day trading for a couple months
- You wrote a couple posts on a blog
- Tested the slot machines
- You’ve pasted affiliate links onto your social media profile
- You tried multi-level marketing
- and, you’ve been disappointed by each one.
People claim you can make money with little to no work, but the more you try, the more you’re proving either:
1. You’re doing something wrong with every venture you try
2. Their falsely advertising by saying you can get rich with little to no work
How can you switch this around? You feel like your passionate enough and you really want your business to come to life, but you’re struggling. You like the potential dollar signs, but you’re struggling to do the tasks necessary to make them?
What do you do? How can you get rid of the inner lazy guy and become a self-disciplined go-getter? Let’s talk about how to improve work ethic…
- 1 1. Define Work Ethic for Yourself
- 2 2. Adhere to Your Definition
- 3 3. Set and Grow Goals
- 4 4. Create a Schedule and a Budget
- 5 5. Commit to things that Must be Done even if They Don’t Feel Good
- 6 6. Create Incentives for Yourself
- 7 7. Practice Focus
- 8 8. Attach to a Community
- 9 9. Stay Accountable
- 10 10. Track Your Milestones and Progress
- 11 A Playlist on How To Improve Work Ethic
- 12 Final Words on How To Improve Work Ethic
- 13 Now, it’s Your Turn…
1. Define Work Ethic for Yourself
There’s so many mainstream definitions that “gurus” have created. There’s the “work smarter, not harder” clan, the four-hour work week clan, those who say you can become rich working less than 10 hours per week, and those who are okay with the good ole fashion hard work.
In his video on work ethic, Patrick Bet David, from Valuetainment, said work is defined as:
“Activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result”.
To put it very simple, ethic is your idea of right and wrong. Work is closely connected to a sense of fulfillment and the execution of life purpose, so often times, when people are “shortcut-focused” or lazy, they tend to develop confidence issues, esteem issues, and become personally and emotionally vulnerable because they live beneath their potential, however, that’s for you to decide.
You have to decide:
- Can I serve the maximum amount of people I was placed on this Earth to serve in 10 hours or less per week or do I need to have a service-first mentality?
- Should I be focused more on what I want to do or who I need to be for others?
- Am I building a business for personal satisfaction or to add value to the market?
The answers to these questions will define work ethic for you. If you are a community-focused proponent, then the remainder of the steps will work for you because you won’t be thinking about “clocking in and out” or the time it takes, or what shortcuts you can find. Instead, you’ll be focused on impacting people regardless of the time it takes.
2. Adhere to Your Definition
Once you’ve decided your position on work ethic, you’ll want to commit. You can unsubscribe from all those newsletters and video channels who have different views on work ethic than you do because their on a different path. Save yourself some money, and skip over sales pages that are targeting people who want results with little work.
Depending on your business, this commitment may be different.
For example, in my business, I use my writing to communicate to others. As a result, I’ve committed to writing more than 15,000 words per week and more than 7 articles. I’m currently scaling my work hours by arranging more childcare options, but until I have childcare in place, the writing goals I’ve currently set will range between 10,000-15,000 words/week and 5-7 articles per week.
You’ll have to decide the most important activities in your business. Things like lead generation, lead conversion, and client fulfillment, must be done whether you like it or not, so you’ll have to commit to them. Maybe you commit to a 90 day cold email challenge where you email people in your target audience daily, or maybe you commit to growing your sales pipeline by 10 new leads everyday.
The goal will help you build the “work ethic” muscle.
3. Set and Grow Goals
Having goals is one thing, and achieving them is a whole different animal. To build your work ethic, you have to build from small accomplished goals into bigger ones.
Think about exercise for a second…
If you’re out of shape, you start with small weights and few repetitions. You don’t start lifting the most you can or you can injure yourself.
Similarly, with developing a work ethic, if you put goals too aggressive, you can damage your esteem or motivation and have burnout.
Start small, achieve one goal consistently, then increase the goal. If you’re consistently closing one sale per day, increase the goal to two, and so on.
Challenge yourself and continue climbing.
4. Create a Schedule and a Budget
Sometimes, temptation comes. A friend may stop by during your work hours, a new movie may come out, or you might smell a tempting aroma from the restaurant down the street. Things come up all the time!
On the highway, there are guardrails. They make sure that cars don’t go out of control and fall off of the road.
Similarly, we have to place guardrails in our lives: limits, rules, challenges, goals, and restrictions to ensure we stay on track and use non-renewable resources (like time and money) the most effectively. In keeping with your definition of work ethic and goals, you should create a schedule and a budget.
My articles “How To Use a Time Management Chart to Beat Procrastination and Increase Productivity” and “How To Budget and Save Money When You’re Broke or Living Paycheck to Paycheck” can help with these tasks.
You have to write down what things you spend your time on and how much time you spend on each task. Then, you have to align your time with your values. Where there are conflicts between what you’re spending your time on, and what you should be doing to progress in life, then you’ll have to make some adjustments.
Like the schedule, you want to track your spending and set milestones for yourself to ensure your money is focused towards achieving your goals.
5. Commit to things that Must be Done even if They Don’t Feel Good
Not everything that NEEDS to be done feels good. In managing a household, most people don’t like to do chores, but they need to be done. Most parents don’t like to change diapers, but they want to have children.
There are components of nearly everything that are good and bad. In business, people may like the money, but they may not like the long hours at times. They may like the added lifestyle freedom, but they don’t like the times where there’s so much work, it doesn’t seem they have any freedom at all.
You have to discipline your mind to continue action even when it doesn’t feel good. Long distance running or fitness works perfectly to prove this. As you’re improving your strength and endurance, it doesn’t always feel good, but when you’re able to be more active or your body doesn’t age like others, then you’ll be happy you put in the added work.
Realistically, business has good parts and bad parts. There’s times when you want to give up, but your commitment keeps you going. You’ll have to commit to business thru the good and the bad.
6. Create Incentives for Yourself
Since there are challenges and obstacles, and since you’ll need to endure things you may not like, it helps maintain your motivation if you create incentives for yourself. Each person’s incentives will be different, but you can set milestones like:
- Once I earn my first $100 in my business, I’ll get my favorite ice cream
- When I have 5 paying customers at $1000 monthly, I’ll get a massage.
Your incentives have to be exciting and serve as a reward for a milestone achieved.
7. Practice Focus
It’s easy to veer off into things you enjoy rather than doing the work when your ability to focus is shortsighted. The good news is…
Focus can be developed. You don’t have to stay in the victim position in relation to focus. If you struggle with directing your attention on one thing, you can dedicate time to practice, and develop the skill.
Additionally, as you work on your schedule, you should be making sure to give yourself sufficient time for each task so multitasking is less necessary.
4 Exercises to Improve Focus
1. Quiet Time
Often times, people who have a difficult time focusing never slow down to reflect or prepare. As a result, they find themselves going from one thing to another thing until their tired.
When you have quiet time, you can identify things that are going well and things that aren’t. You can develop necessary skills because you’ll have time to identify shortcomings and what you may need.
Quiet time is important to develop focus.
2. The Rice Activity
With the growing prevalence of people on ADD or ADHD medications, there’s also a growing number of people who feel incapable of growing their ability to focus. A school teacher I know disagreed with the focus-based medicine trend. She would have students who had trouble focusing in the classroom do “The Rice Activity”.
She’d bring a bag of rice to school, pour some of the grains out, and for a timed period, she would have them focus on picking each grain up with tweasers and counting them. When the students started, they had trouble focusing on the activity, but she saw that after continuall doing the exercise, the students were able to focus more.
Some people meditate to improve their ability to focus. Meditation is slow, quiet, and reflective, so it requires you to focus on one command at a time.
In addition to meditation being good to improve focus, it can also be good to release negative emotion or thoughts that can be underlying hinderances for work ethic and focus.
When you’re pushing yourself towards a fitness goal–whether 10 pushups, 20 situps, or 1 pull up–it requires focus. It’s easy to say, “I’ve done 5, forget the rest”, but as a challenge for your work ethic and your focus, you commit and follow thru.
Many entrepreneurs use fitness to grow confidence, to improve health, and to improve focus, and you should consider it also.
8. Attach to a Community
As social beings, we naturally want to be admired and affirmed, so when we are a part of a community, we thrive better. People can encourage us in ways the are really meaningful, we can find a sense of purpose when we identify ways our talents can service people around us, and we have a sense of accountability.
You can find ideal communities in places like:
- Recreation centers or Community Centers
- Fitness Centers
- Professional Networking Groups
- In Hobby Groups
- or, even online in some cases
9. Stay Accountable
In a good community where people are highly engaged, you’ll have a sense of accountability that will be paramount for your growth. People will ask questions like:
- I heard you’re starting a business doing …, how’s it going?
- How was your week?
- What did you do yesterday?
- or, other inquisitive questions that give a peak into your life
There will also be people who show concern when things seem that they’re not going well. You want to be accountable to a group of people who are genuinely concerned about your progress.
When they give you feedback to improve your situation, you want to deeply consider it, and at times, even submit to what they’re saying. Good accountability arrangements can be coordinated for personal or professional reasons with:
- A good mentor
- A group of like-minded people (like a mastermind group)
- Or, an Accountability partner
10. Track Your Milestones and Progress
I’ve noticed from long distance running that you lose motivation if you don’t realize how far you’ve come or where you’re going. When you start running and there’s no milestones that say the distance you’ve run, or when you don’t have a watch or other metric, it becomes very difficult to stay motivated because you feel like it’s going to be endless.
In life, if you’re chasing success with no milestones, it can be just like long distance running with no end in sight. You may have a lamborghini or other status symbol as the “ultimate goal”, but with no milestones in between, aspiring to something like that can become tiresome.
Instead, you want to use your quiet and reflective time to analyze your progress. You want to integrate your incentives with your goals and milestones to ensure you stay motivated as you’re going closer and closer to your “ultimate professional destination”.
A Playlist on How To Improve Work Ethic
I’ve compiled this playlist with other Creators’ advice on how to improve work ethic. Hopefully, you can combine the tips in this post with a few helpful nuggets in the playlist, and be on your way to outworking yourself and your competition!
Final Words on How To Improve Work Ethic
The goal of this article was to show how to improve work ethic. This subject is one of the most important to entrepreneurs. It’s important to be able to outthink and outperform competitors, and without work ethic, you can’t do that.
If you have questions or concerns about this, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section. I’d love to help you out!
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Now, it’s Your Turn…
Have you improved your work ethic before? What did you do? Have you been challenges with work ethic before? What do you do in those times?