Don’t Mistake Working Hard for Working Smart

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

When we get caught up in the day-to-day tasks of running our businesses, it’s easy to lose sight of our goals. We may be working long hours, dealing with everything that comes our way, and maybe even feeling proud of the fires we’ve successfully put out. But just because we’re working hard doesn’t mean we’re moving closer to reaching our goals.

How can you tell if you’re not working as smart as you could be? Here are 9 signs to watch for:

  1. You meet the quantity milestones you’ve set for yourself but fall short on achieving quality outcomes
  2. Every day you feel like you’re too busy to get to the really important tasks
  3. You don’t have time to learn about the latest trends in your field or industry
  4. You frequently miss networking opportunities
  5. You spend more time talking than listening
  6. You rely on the same work-arounds again and again
  7. You do everything yourself
  8. You’ve carried over a previous year’s goals to the next year, with no measurable progress
  9. You consistently work through scheduled time off

Strategy Makes All the Difference

In one word, the difference between working hard and working smart is STRATEGY. Envision the outcome you desire, then plan the steps to achieve it.

Everything has to be aligned. The more clearly you’ve defined your goal, the easier it will be to identify the necessary steps to achieve it. If you’re aware of the steps you need to take to reach your goal, you’ll gain awareness of when the work you’re doing isn’t moving you toward your goal. Make adjustments to your plan so you can manage the non-productive work differently.

Know Your Moves in Advance

In the game of chess, the number of moves a player knows in advance differentiates an amateur player from a grandmaster. An amateur typically knows his or her next 1 to 3 moves; a grandmaster knows his or her next 11 to 15 moves.

Grounding your strategy in data, knowledge, experience, and expertise ensures you are defining the right moves to get you where you want to be. And, it’s not just identifying the right moves – understanding the timing of your moves is just as critical. If you want to win in the game of chess, as in business, you can’t execute your move 1- before you’ve completed your move 4.

Sometimes, when we’re forced to fly by the seat of the pants in a situation, we get lucky and make the exact right business move. Don’t mistake good luck for strategy. In that situation, success is an accident. Most of us can’t afford to rely on accidents to achieve success.

Working smart is, however, still work, and you may find that the commitment required for building a strategic roadmap feels like too much hard work. You don’t have to have all the answers. Contact me to learn how I can help you accelerate progress towards your goals.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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