The New Year had me thinking a lot about goals, values, ambitions, motivations, life, and how excited I was to wear my new fuzzy socks. With all the talk of “look how far you’ve come in a year” and “can you believe that was only 1 year ago” I found myself even more reflective and nearly bubbling over with blog ideas – two of which involved writing about goals and values.
At my old job, we had a list of working norms – kind of like guiding values – and each day at our morning huddle, we would say what working norm we were focusing on that day. I loved that idea. I mean, obviously, in theory, you were living into every positive attribute every day you walked into the office, but how nice it was to really put your heart and soul behind one guiding value each week.
For this reason, I’ve decided to dedicate a new series of “Res” posts to my own kind of working norms – my own mini-resolutions. You don’t have to buy into any of these. You don’t have to make your own. But maybe at some point, it’ll make you think about what it would look like to radically change your life one week at a time.
Res 35: Work Smarter, Not Harder
I am the youngest child in my family with two amazing older brothers. Because of this, I grew up playing Super Mario Brothers on Super Nintendo and Super Smash Bros on N64. I loved sitting on the sofa in the basement, watching my brothers and their friends play video games. I had accepted my role as perpetual Player 2 and I was always content to dive into just one more Mario Kart race before dinner.
One game we played a great deal of growing up was Zelda. With most of these games, my brothers were all about strategy. They knew how to beat the game and their play revolved around it. You need this key to get into this room so you can get this weapon so you can fight this bad guy. It was tactical and planned and it made sense.
This was all fine and well until they gave me the controller. I knew there had to be some higher purpose for the game, but I was quite content to ride my horse around the base and smash vases. Deep down, I knew there was nothing important about smashing all the vases on the screen, but being part OCD and part five-years-old, it still seemed like the only logical thing to do.
I think the other, likely more telling, part is that I was always a little nervous. At that age, I never quite mastered many of the games we played and I’d always have to interrupt my brothers from whatever they were doing to come back and kill the bad guy for me. The monsters and bosses were difficult. But I knew how to smash vases.
Resolution #35: Work Smarter, Not Harder
It’s nice to start with what you know. Smashing a vase there. Feeding your horse a carrot there. But if you spend your entire life running around smashing vases, you aren’t going to get to where you need to be. I was, for a long time, distracting myself with things that aren’t necessary or important. I felt like I was getting a lot done but none of what I was doing mattered.
I’ve held onto this inefficient mindset throughout my life. I feel like I’m being really productive when really I’m just filling my time with the empty calories of menial tasks. It’s easy to fill your days and still not get anything done.
I get it. It’s safe to do what you know. But doing what you know doesn’t get you to the next level.
I get it. It’s terrifying to fight bigger bosses, especially when you can’t just interrupt a game of Pokemon to get your brothers’ backup.
That said, if you want to start moving forward and really achieving the things you dream of, at some point, you have to leave vases unsmashed and move forward.