Everyone said, “Work really hard and you’ll succeed.” They were wrong. Here’s what actually works.

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As the founder of Hack Spirit, I’ve heard a good deal of advice on how to succeed in life. The most common phrase? “Work really hard and you’ll succeed.” That’s what everyone seems to believe. But as someone who’s written a best-selling book on mindfulness and eastern philosophy, I’ve come to realize that sheer hard work isn’t the be-all and end-all.

Now, don’t get me wrong – hard work is important. But there’s more to achieving success than just grinding away relentlessly. After countless conversations, research, and personal experiences, I’ve found that there are other, often overlooked elements that play crucial roles in our journey to success.

I spent a month testing these less conventional methods – letting go of the constant hustle, focusing on self-awareness, mindfulness and prioritizing personal wellbeing. The results were surprising, even to me. 

Embracing a holistic approach to success

Taking a step back from the societal norm of relentless hard work was not easy. But I was determined to explore a more mindful and holistic approach to success. So, I set out on a month-long journey, focusing on three key elements that often get sidelined in our quest for achievement.

  • Self-awareness: The first thing I did was cultivate self-awareness. I started journaling my thoughts, feelings, and ideas every day. This helped me understand what truly mattered to me, and where my strengths and passions lie.
  • Mindfulness: Mindfulness is about being present in the moment. So, I dedicated specific daily time slots for mindfulness exercises – from meditation to mindful walking.
  • Personal wellbeing: I made sure to prioritize my health, both physical and mental. This meant regular exercise, balanced nutrition, adequate sleep, and activities that brought me joy and relaxation.

While it was a significant shift from the constant hustle I was used to, these practices brought about a sense of balance and clarity that I hadn’t experienced before. 

The surprising results of a balanced approach

The results of this month-long experiment were nothing short of transformative. Yes, it was initially uncomfortable to step away from the constant grind and hustle. But what unfolded was a renewed sense of purpose and joy that I hadn’t felt in years.

Firstly, my self-awareness through journaling helped me identify what truly mattered to me. No longer was I chasing someone else’s definition of success, but my own. I discovered strengths and passions that had been overshadowed by the noise of constant work.

Practicing mindfulness brought a profound sense of calm to my days. I learned to appreciate the present moment, which in turn reduced stress and anxiety. It was no longer about rushing to the finish line, but enjoying the journey.

Finally, prioritizing personal wellbeing made me realize that success isn’t worth compromising health and happiness. Regular exercise, proper nutrition, good sleep and leisure time rejuvenated me. I became more productive, creative and content in my work.

In retrospect, I can see how my old belief – that hard work is the sole key to success – was skewed. It’s now clear that a more balanced approach not only leads to success but also enriches the journey towards it. 

Realigning expectations with reality

Before this journey, I was certain that success equated to long hours, constant hustle, and an unwavering commitment to work. I believed that by pushing myself to the limit, I’d reach the pinnacle of success.

But this month-long experiment turned my expectations on their head. Rather than leading to burnout and dissatisfaction, as I had half-expected, this holistic approach brought a renewed sense of fulfillment. The results were not just visible in my work, but also in my personal life and overall wellbeing.

I realized success isn’t just about financial gain or professional accolades. It’s also about personal growth, happiness, and a sense of fulfillment. Reflecting on this now, it seems so obvious. And yet, it took stepping away from the traditional narrative to truly understand it.

Now that we’ve debunked the popular belief and realigned our expectations with reality, let’s delve into the most valuable lesson learned from this journey—a lesson that could potentially redefine your perspective on success.

Putting the lesson into practice

Deciding to step back from the relentless hustle and embrace a more balanced approach to success wasn’t easy. It required realigning my views and challenging the societal narrative. But let me tell you, it was worth it.

If you’ve found yourself caught in the whirlwind of constant work, feeling stressed and unfulfilled, I want to extend an invitation to you. Try stepping back. Cultivate self-awareness, practice mindfulness, and prioritize your wellbeing.

It may feel counterintuitive at first. You might worry about falling behind or not achieving your goals. But remember, real success isn’t just about the destination—it’s also about the journey.

And in this journey, it’s okay to slow down. It’s okay to take care of yourself. It’s okay to enjoy the present moment. Because ultimately, success is not just about working hard—it’s about working smart, living well, and enjoying life along the way.

Reflecting on the journey and embracing a new perspective

As I reflect on this journey, I am reminded of certain principles that have guided me throughout my life. Principles that, in retrospect, seem so relevant to what we’ve just been exploring. These include:

Embracing mindfulness: This journey has taught me the value of living in the present moment and appreciating the journey rather than just focusing on the destination.

Prioritizing self-improvement: This experiment was, in essence, a personal growth challenge. It forced me to step out of my comfort zone and reassess my understanding of success.

Valuing mental well-being: A key part of this new approach was prioritizing my mental health. I discovered that well-being and success are not mutually exclusive but rather intertwined.

Letting go of unnecessary attachments: I had to let go of the societal narrative that equates success with hard work alone. This was not easy, but it was necessary for growth and transformation.

Balance idealism with realism: It’s important to aim high but also remain grounded. Success is about finding that sweet spot between aspiration and practicality.

I hope sharing my journey has given you some food for thought. Perhaps it has challenged your own beliefs and expectations about success. Remember, it’s okay to redefine what success means to you and seek a balance that not only brings professional achievement but also personal fulfillment and happiness.

In truth, this journey of redefining success mirrors a lot of what I discuss in my book, “Hidden Secrets of Buddhism: How To Live With Maximum Impact and Minimum Ego”. It’s about embracing a fulfilling life by living with less ego and more purpose. If you’re curious to learn more about how Buddhist teachings can guide you towards a fulfilling modern life, you might find it interesting. You can check it out here.

Remember, at the end of the day, success is a personal journey. It’s about finding what works for you and aligning your efforts with your values and well-being. So, take a moment to reflect on your own journey. What does success mean to you? And how can you approach it in a way that brings not just achievement, but also joy and fulfillment?

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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