Monday Motivation: Why Working Harder Is Not the Key to Your Success

Monday, September 24, 2012

Rest here
Image by Oliver Kendal via Flickr/Creative Commons
 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
-- Jesus (Matthew 11:28)

I was on an emotional roller coaster in church yesterday. During praise and worship -- the period when we sing songs, close our eyes, and lift our hands to the heavens -- I felt overwhelmed with gratitude as I began to count my blessings. Specifically, I was thinking about the great success I've had with landing freelance writing gigs this year and the success of my women's writing organization See Jane Write

But about 20 minutes later I started to feel guilty. Yesterday's sermon was all about slowing down, about making sure you're not so busy that your life gets out of balance and you stop spending as much time as you should with God and with your loved ones. I felt guilty because I had walked into church that morning bubbling over with excitement about all the ideas I have for growing See Jane Write in 2013. And now I felt my ambitions were somehow evil. 

Then my pastor explained that he wasn't telling us we should just give up everything and do nothing. Some of the activities that fill our schedules can actually be life-giving, he said. But the ones that aren't, the ones that leave us feeling empty inside, will eventually lead to burnout. 

The work I do for See Jane Write certainly is life giving, but I still left church knowing I need to work on living a more-balanced life. I must make time to recharge and refuel through prayer and quality time with family and friends and sometimes by just taking a freaking nap! 

All my life I've believe that if I just work harder and harder and harder my dreams will come true. But I'm starting to realize that is not the case. I've always hated the saying "Work smarter, not harder," because I interpreted that phrase as "Take all the shortcuts you can." But that's not it at all. 

During the sermon my pastor compared taking time to recharge and refuel to sharpening a saw. Many of us let our saw get dull and instead of taking a break to sharpen it we keep hacking away at that tree, believing that if we just swing harder and with more might we'll get the job done. But if we would only stop and take time to sharpen the saw then we could chop down that tree with a single swing. 

This week while you're going after your goals and chopping away at your to-do lists, don't forget to sharpen your saw. 


  1. I agree but I want you to know that you and your writing and your blog have uplifted me and have inspired me. Thank you.

    1. Thanks, Carol. I'm not in any way saying I'm going to stop blogging. I'm just saying I'm going to make more time to rest. But my blog and See Jane Write and all my other writing will keep going strong!

  2. I so hear you on this and I'm glad to get a much-needed reminder for myself!

    1. Glad you can understand where I'm coming from and that you find this post helpful. Thanks for reading!