It’s a tale as old as time. You work hard and practically burn yourself into the ground, trying to achieve your goals. And yet, success continues to elude you, no matter what you do. Why does this happen?

Well, here are the facts: hard work is always a standard part of success, but success does not necessarily spring from any hard work. It’s not just about working hard. It’s also about working smart.

Here Are 10 Reasons Why Hard Work Won’t Always Bring Success

1.    Burnout

Some people don’t believe in burnout, but anyone who’s overworked themselves knows just how brutal it can be. Burnout refers to a state where you’ve essentially worked yourself to the bone and now either:

  • Putt out work that barely meets quality requirements or expectations
  • Feel exhausted entirely to the point of missing deadlines repeatedly
  • Unable to function and perform work tasks at all

Why does burnout happen? Well, when you work too much, it cuts into your free time, forces you to cancel social engagements, and makes your concentration only revolve around that, every single day. This exhaustion saps the joy out of your world, leaving you with nothing but work – and, as they say, that does make Jack quite a dull boy.

There’s nothing wrong with working extra, and it is undoubtedly needed for success. But don’t mistake grinding yourself to the ground as a good option for success. It will more likely just create setbacks or even ruin your passion. Value quality – not quantity.

2.    Lack of Support

We just talked about how working hard often means fewer social engagements – and that’s another danger of trying to chase success without balance. Humans need social interaction, and different studies have found that it has positive effects on:

  • Learning ability and productivity
  • Symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Memory and concentration
  • Overall physical health
  • Longevity

On top of that, success often isn’t just something that springs up from yourself alone. It can, of course, but the fact is that connections and strong relationships with others – both in your field and out of it – are equally important. Bonds can help elevate you to the next step in your career, and close, caring relationships with friends and family can give you strength, support, and outside perspectives.

3.    Copying Others

Lots of people are hard workers, but few are successful. Why? Because the act of “working hard” often involves following the crowd and doing what almost everyone else is doing. And let’s face it – following the group practically never results in success.

On top of that, a lot of “hard work” is often mindless – it doesn’t require much change or innovation. You have to do the tasks again and again, and you’re working hard. But how is that sort of repetitive, unthinking work going to give you any success at all?

Of course, hard work is still essential, no matter what you’re doing. But make sure that your hard work isn’t blind. Your hard work should also be working towards reaching your goals. If your hard work isn’t getting you anywhere, take a step back, and ask yourself – what are you doing wrong? How can you make it better?

4.    Mental Health Deterioration

People often forget that your mental health is almost always crucial to your success. Studies have found that positive mental health often correlates to better academic performance – and you can certainly bet that in the working world, that trend remains.

It’s a relatively simple concept. If you work hard, not smart, chances are you have to sacrifice your free time in other areas. This mindset means you’ll enjoy your life much less, making you potentially unhappy – and when you’re struggling mentally, it can be challenging to achieve success.

Do note that we aren’t saying mental illness dooms you. We’re saying that working too hard can contribute to mental health issues that can affect your ability to strive for success. So don’t forget about the importance of self-care, self-compassion, and looking after yourself.

5.    Lack of Budgeting 

When you’re so busy working, you may forget to make sure your numbers add up. Did you know that countless Americans don’t have an idea where most of their money goes? Consider:

  • How much money are you earning?
  • How much are you spending?
  • What amount do you need for bills?
  • How much do you spend on food?
  • How much do you put into savings?
  • Are you spending too much on non-essentials?
  • Is there anything you need to cut back on?
  • Is the amount of work you’re doing worth the money you’re earning?

Money saving tips for success

It’s a good idea to develop a budget based on the money that you earn. Figure out how much you need to spend on bills and essential expenses, then figure out where the rest can go. Can you afford to finance a hobby or a new class? Can you start saving up for something bigger?

Having trouble getting started? Download a budgeting app and log it religiously. Many will alert you when you’re nearing or reaching a specific limit.

6.    Lack of Consistency

Motivation is excellent for success, but there’s something that’s even more important than motivation: consistency. Motivation ebbs and flows and is never constant, and it’s uncontrollable, but consistent commitment is forever and something you have power over.

If you work super hard a couple of times, it’s unlikely that success will come for you. You have to be remarkably consistent to get success to come knocking at your door. You can’t achieve your goals if you’re not consistent in your efforts. So don’t focus on big, grand shows of hard work – focus on consistency, even if it’s not as dramatic or significant.

7.    Lack of Purpose and Vision

What do you believe in? What are you looking to achieve? And what are your goals? If you lack enthusiasm, vision, or purpose, it can be difficult to go above and beyond. After all, you won’t feel satisfied, even when you do take steps forward.

It’s a good idea to set correct goals that give you a delightful vision of the future, and a sense of purpose! Here’s how to come up with positive goals:

·         Make Them Specific

Don’t allow for overly vague goals. General goals won’t give you a clear enough sense of direction, leaving you open to losing your drive and being too lenient or too harsh.

·         Make Them Measurable

Goals cannot have indefinite requirements. They have to be measurable. For example, you may aim to read three books a month, or you may intend to have completed certain stages of tasks by strict deadlines. If you do neither, you have nothing concrete to work towards.

·         Break Them Down

In your long-term goal are many short-term goals. Breaking down huge goals into smaller ones with shorter deadlines can help you figure out how to work towards them.

·         Make Them Reasonable

While your goals should always challenge you and be challenging to achieve, they should still be attainable. If you set impossible goals, you will only discourage yourself.

But what if you already have goals set? What then? Well, ask yourself:

  • Do you genuinely believe in these goals?
  • Do these goals still give you a sense of purpose?
  • Why did you initially set these goals?

If these questions make you realize that your goals aren’t quite what you need any more, then it’s time for a giant overhaul!

8.    Fear Holds You Back From Success

Fear is often your biggest enemy. If you are afraid, it can prevent you from succeeding. You may fear failure, difficult circumstances, rejection, or even success itself. You may not even realize that fear is controlling your life until it is too late.

It’s not reasonable to hate yourself for being afraid. Fear is something you must treat with kindness – though you must still be firm with it! It’s okay to be frightened, but what now must be done in overcoming that fear? Slowly, bit by bit, you can work on getting over the problem.

don't hold back from success

So step outside of your comfort zone regularly. Don’t let yourself be trapped into being stuck in your fear, but don’t overstep too far that you become too frightened to try again. Don’t be afraid to talk to a professional, either, such as a therapist or psychologist, for help in overcoming your fears.

9.    Lack of Emergency Planning

Hard work can support you through regular times, but what about emergencies? Everything can be smooth sailing, only to be derailed by an unexpected and unfortunate event.

Learn to plan for possible emergencies. You can do this by:

  • Setting up an emergency fund with savings for a rainy day
  • Don’t be overly hung up on positive expectations; always know that things may not go to plan
  • Have people you can rely on – and who can rely on you – in case you or they require emergency assistance
  • Have a general backup plan for common emergency scenarios, such as medical problems or natural disasters

10. Negative Cycles Impede Success

A negative cycle can be tough to break, and hard-workers often don’t even realize they’re in one. Example of negative cycles are:

  • You are seen as the person who always works. Therefore, more work is expected of you.
  • You work at a toxic job. You make up excuses to stay. The workplace takes even more advantage of you.
  • Your goals are set too high. You feel guilty or ashamed because you can’t reach your goals. This guilt and shame add to your stress, making it even harder to achieve any goals.
  • You run out of money for the week. You spend cash dedicated to next week to buy what you want. That means you don’t have enough money for next week.

Money saving

To break a negative cycle, you must first be aware of it. Take note of specific patterns that you seem to be stuck in again and again and figure out what their root is.

Final Thoughts On Why Hard Work Won’t Always Bring Success

If you’ve been working as hard as you can but find yourself unable to reach success, take a step back, and analyze your methods. Is there something you’re doing wrong? Is there something you can improve on? How can you work smarter instead of harder? Be kind to yourself! Success will come if you know the right ingredients to it.