How to Build a Strong Work Ethic

February 24th, 2014 by Steve Pavlina

There is no fatigue so wearisome as that which comes from lack of work. – Charles Spurgeon

If you’ve been stuck in a lazy rut lately, here are some suggestions to get yourself working productively.

1. Accept that many results require hard work.

Remind yourself of the simple causality chain from decision to action to results. That middle phase is where most of the work is.

If you have no willingness to ever work your ass off, if you have such resistance to the very notion of pushing yourself, if you have an overdeveloped sense of entitlement that all the goodness of life should flow to you with effortless ease, that’s great. You can read this article purely for entertainment purposes.

But if you’re a more pragmatic realist, if you can recognize that many goals are too big and challenging just to attract and manifest out of thin air, if you can see that the whole point of tackling bigger goals is to develop yourself into a person of bold action, if you can accept that avoiding action altogether is a recipe for stagnation, and especially if you’re tired of not getting the results you actually want and having to settle for less, then perhaps you can make this important leap and accept that some of your goals will require you to achieve them with hard work and lots of disciplined, focused action.

2. Notice how self-discipline vs. laziness feels to you.

Notice that during those times when you actually do discipline yourself to take action, it often feels fantastic once you get past the first 15 minutes or so. Sure it’s nice to enjoy the end result. But also remember what it feels like to push yourself beyond your comfort zone and get into the flow of action.

How did it feel to put in that extra hour? To go to work when you could have justified taking an extra day off? To put in the time to complete that optional creative project?

Sure it involved some sacrifice. But what did you give up? Extra TV time, a little web surfing, and some time lying flat on your back perhaps. What did you gain for your efforts? It wasn’t just the end result. You grew stronger.

Inaction can be unforgiving. It kills your results. It drains your energy. It drains you of hope. Self-discipline pays you back with all of these results and more, including significantly greater happiness, fulfillment, and self-esteem.

3. Embrace responsibility.

Recognize that no one is coming to rescue you. No one will force you into the flow of action. You must do this for yourself.

The lazy avoidance of responsibility isn’t for you. You don’t want stagnation. You want growth, and this requires action, movement, and change. This requires you to make some decisions and get going.

Don’t confuse laziness with ease. In the long run, laziness yields only pointless difficulties and painful regret — and rightly so since you’ll always know you could have avoided those difficulties if you’d really stepped up.

Don’t put this burden of action on anyone else. It rests squarely on your shoulders, if for no other reason than because you’re the one who ultimately has to shoulder the results.

4. Start your day strongly.

A strong work ethic begins with a disciplined morning routine. Don’t be caught lying on your back half-conscious, dragging yourself out of bed in a lazy half-start to your day.

When you wake up, get up. Get moving and get going. This will soon become a habit. If you aren’t doing this naturally already, then respect the utility of a quality alarm clock. When your alarm sounds, pop out of bed and stand up first; then switch it off with your feet firmly on the ground.

If you can’t wake up strongly in the morning, then fix your disgusting diet that’s draining you of energy and motivation instead of fueling you powerfully.

Start each day with a strong morning, and the rest of the day will tend to follow. Move with power and purpose during that first hour. Own your mornings. Then maintain this attitude of mastery over your time as far into each day as possible.

5. Exercise.

If the President of the USA can find time in his exceedingly busy schedule to exercise for 45 minutes each morning, you surely have time.

Exercising strongly will energize you. Your body is meant to move. Your brain especially suffers from a lack of exercise, leading to imbalances in hormones and neurotransmitters. Physical exercise is one of the brain’s best rejuvenators. Don’t allow your mind to be dragged down by a sluggish body.

If you have difficulty focusing your mind, start by focusing on your body.

When you exercise, make it challenging. Don’t just do the same thing over and over. Mix it up. Push yourself. Make it intense. Give yourself not only a physical challenge but also a mental one. Embrace the terrific feeling of accomplishing something difficult each day, ideally in the morning. Kick off your day with a physical victory.

Exercise isn’t just training for your body. It’s training for your mind — and especially for your self-discipline.

6. Tackle a real challenge before lunch.

Nobody can think straight who does not work. Idleness warps the mind. - Henry Ford

Kick off each workday with a mental challenge. Don’t start with something light and cushy. Dive right into a challenging task that some part of you would rather avoid. Train yourself to embrace what’s difficult instead of pushing it away.

When you avoid difficult tasks by pushing them later into your day, soon you’ll justify bumping them into the next day… and then the next one… and then into next week… and then you’ll realize this little postponement has somehow ballooned into months of procrastination.

To avoid a difficult task this moment is to condition the habit of postponing difficulties indefinitely. This is no way to claim the benefits that come from doing difficult work.

Don’t resist difficult tasks. Embrace them as your daily resistance training.

7. Get to it.

Determine never to be idle… It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing. - Thomas Jefferson

Stop waffling. Stop talking about it. Go do it.

Taking action produces faster results than thinking about taking action. Many of the problems people discuss endlessly could be resolved with less than 10 minutes of direct action.

Repeatedly driving yourself to get into action creates flow and feels good. Thinking about doing (while not doing) will produce pile-ups of unnecessary obstacles.

8. Act with good purpose.

When you work, work towards an end result that you desire. Don’t spin in circles doing pointless busywork that won’t lead you to your desired results.

Set your purpose straight. Then act in alignment with that purpose.

Plan each day in advance, ideally at the end of the previous workday. During this time, check back in with your mission. If you don’t have a mission or if you don’t have clear goals, then go read the article on clarity and fix that.

Plan your days in alignment with your long-term priorities. As you consider possible actions to take, ask yourself which ones will matter in a year. Load the bulk of your time with actions that you expect will produce long-term improvement.

9. Condition disciplined habits.

Disciplined habits are those that make a difference in the long run. If a habit will do you little or no good to maintain it for the next five years, then why are you keeping it in your life?

Use the 30-day trial method to test and condition new habits.

Don’t try to break bad habits. You can’t replace a habit with a void. Instead, select better substitutes that you can condition in place of the old ones.

10. Work first, then play.

The idle man does not know what it is to enjoy rest, for he has not earned it. - John Lubbock

Play is sweetest when it’s earned. So is sleep. Earn your sleep each night by working hard on your goals during the day. Go to bed with the sweet smile of accomplishment still on your lips.

Take your rewards. Enjoy your life. But earn your rewards first.

Playing before you’ve earned your play time robs the play of much of its pleasure. If you love to play, then you’d better love to work.

When you rest or play, leave your work at work. Don’t destroy the restorative value of non-work activities by bleeding half-work into them.

11. Choose your peers with care.

A lazy person, whatever the talents with which he set out, will have condemned himself to second-hand thoughts and to second-rate friends. - Cyril Connolly

Maintain high standards for your social circle. Keep yourself at arm’s length from the lazy, the unproductive, and the negative minded. A weak social circle is a psychological prison.

Befriend and associate with the hard-working, ambitious, successful people of this world, and you’ll soon count yourself among them.

12. Don’t use the Law of Attraction as an excuse for laziness.

Most of the LoA fans I know are great at manifesting — pennies.

Wishing for more from life is wonderful. Keep doing that. But recognize that your own hard, disciplined work efforts are often integral to the manifesting process.

The LoA works best when every fiber of your being is congruent with your desires. How congruent are you when you’re sitting on your couch watching TV while intending more abundance to come into your life?

I’d say you look a lot more congruent when you work your ass off during the day taking actions that you believe will help you achieve your goal faster. But if you fritter away most of your days by sleeping in late, if you spend hours doing low value tasks that don’t need to be done (and calling it research), and if you end most of your days with that sinking feeling that you could have done a lot better, that isn’t manifesting. That’s just being lazy.

If you want to become better at manifesting your desires, then step into the difficulties of making tough decisions. Accept the challenge of staying focused in a world of increasing distraction. See how far you can push your self-discipline. Explore fresh ways to create and share value with the world.

If you think you’re good at manifesting, then manifest some focus, drive, and self-discipline, and you’ll find that your ability to experience what you desire increases significantly. No more sitting on the sidelines hoping for changes that never arrive.

Manifest strength. Then use it. That’s what you really desire. Don’t waste your time on unworthy short-cut intentions that would only weaken you if you actually received them.

* * *

Wielding a strong work ethic is ultimately a matter of becoming an action-oriented person. Steer your self-development path in this direction. Decide that you’ll grow into a person with a strong, powerful work ethic. The doing part will flow more easily if you can embrace the being part.

Can you allow yourself to become a hard worker? When someone asks if you have a strong work ethic, can you see yourself saying YES without hesitation?

Now go do something truly challenging for the next few hours.



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