Need some perspective on "hard work."
April 7, 2010 2:31 PM Subscribe
I'm dealing with feelings that I'm not ambitious enough and not enough of a hard worker, and I'd like some perspective on how hard is 'hard enough.'
posted by Tehhund to Work & Money (11 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
(note: actual questions at the bottom)
Background: I come from a workaholic family (my mother's words, not mine). My father routinely works 14 hour days and many weekends; one of my siblings is finishing his surgical residency. I'm three years out of school and have a lot of hard-working friends from school: people who landed consultant positions and management-track rotations.
I work hard too - in my office job, which pays pretty well, I consistently put in 50-55 hours per week, which feels about right. But somewhere between 50 and 55 hours my mental energy tends to run dry and I become dissatisfied, my work suffers, and I start to ignore tasks and miss deadlines.
What's tough is I'm in a work environment where 50-55 hours is nothing special, so I'm starting to feel mediocre, and feeling mediocre at work just ads to to the comparison with my friends and family.
If pay and advancement didn't matter much to me, that would be no problem. But I've realized they do matter to me; I'm happy when I earn more cash and I like taking on new responsibilities.
So really, I'm looking for thoughts along two lines:
1. I want to make good money and be someone with responsibility, but I’ve realized that I have to do it on 55-ish hours per week or I’ll run out of mental energy and get depressed. My next milestone is to break the $100k barrier and get involved in some form of management in the next 5 years. What I need is perspective on how much work is 'hard enough' to get paid well and be given direction over others in today's economy. Compared to other decently-paid white-collar workers, can I do this by developing a specialty and working hard 50 hours per week? Or do I need a reality check if I think any company is going to pay me well for that level of effort?
2. I’d like thoughts on dealing with my feelings of being a bit of an underachiever. I value hard work and getting paid well; I don’t think those values are going to change. But I’m surrounded by people who put in more hours than me, and I feel guilty for hitting this mental barrier. No one is telling me that I’m an underachiever, but I see how much the people around me work and I feel like I should be doing more.