Really successful people generally have one thing in common: They work harder than anyone else. The brilliant, but lazy person, can only go so far. All of us like to think we have a strong work ethic, but do we really?
Here are some suggestions for developing a strong work ethic:
- Get an early start – Most people who have an exemplary work ethic will be on the job by at least 7 AM. That may be tough in college, but you should at least be ready to work at 8 AM.
- Focus on work and avoid distractions – A strong work ethic means that you focus on work without distractions. People respect you for your focus and will not interrupt you.
- Stay on the job – People with a strong work ethic will generally work for about 10 hours a day. While that may seem extreme, ten-hour days just become routine after a short amount of time. Any degree program that is worth the investment requires this level of dedication.
- Learn to multi-task – There are things you can do at the same time. For example, it’s easy to prepare flashcards during class. You can also review these during commercials on TV. There are just examples of way to multi-task. The key to multi-tasking is to plan ahead. Think about things that need to be done that can be done with something else.
- Become efficient – People with strong work ethic are also very efficient. When they are doing something, they are also thinking about how they could do this quicker. As students, think of the time you waste trying to find things, figuring out what the assignment is, moving from one location to another when the trip wasn’t necessary, or teaching yourself because you weren’t an active learner in class.
- Match the effort with the outcome – Not everything requires the effort we put into it. People with strong work ethic learn how to judge the effort needed to achieve a desired outcome. For example, do you need to write those extra 300 words when the teacher only wanted a short response? Do you really need to put in extra time to make an assignment grade is just based on the answer. (Note: you don’t want to be sloppy, but you don’t have to overdue the appearance.)
- Associate with the right people – If you want to sustain a high level of work ethic, then become friends with others like you. This is actually easy to do since you’ll see each other early in the morning when everyone else is asleep. When you develop these friends, you’ll find a lot of mutual support and motivation.
- Develop a non-work passion – You can’t just work and sustain this for long. You will need a strong passion as well to sustain you. Often the passion is 180º different from your work. But you’ll find yourself separating work and your passion in a way that the time away from work becomes a rejuvenation of your mind and body.
- Find a role model – People with a strong work ethic often have someone they know who they can learn from. It could be a parent, a relative, a mentor, a coach, or anyone who you see fairly often. You will find you can learn a lot from this person and often eventually exceed your role model in your work ethic.
- Love what you do – It’s hard to have a strong work ethic if you don’t love what you do. In college, you need to have a major that excites you. If you just dread your courses, you really need to think about another major.
All of these may seem extreme to you. The reality is that you’ll gradually see your work ethic changing in college. If you’re smart, you’ll accelerate the change in your work ethic early in college because it becomes harder to make sudden shifts when your course load gets tougher.