8 Ways to Improve Your Work Ethic

Your work ethic is defined by how you choose to create it.Work ethic is still considered a virtue in our society, but there seems to be an underlying assumption that it’s something you have or you don’t.You might hear someone urge another person to work harder, but you rarely hear people explaining how to improve their work ethic, as they might talk about how to train for a marathon.This is a shame because the strength of our local communities and our country’s institutions depends on a bedrock of hardworking people.No amount of intelligence can compensate for a society that lacks foundational virtues like honesty and hard work. Whatever your age or your station in life, you can increase your work ethic, do more good for those around you, and feel good about the person you’re becoming.How to Improve Your Work EthicIn that spirit, here are some starting thoughts about how to improve one’s work ethic:1. Stop Being Annoyed by Little FrustrationsIf you only allow yourself to be happy when things are going smoothly without any bumps in the road, then you will be constantly fighting against work of all kinds. I once believed in a fairytale world of work where everything felt meaningful but easy. Now I see two options—the boredom of work that’s too easy or the challenge of work that is frustrating. I’ve decided to see the frustrations as a challenge and refuse to view them as annoyances that sap my energy.2. Build Mental StaminaBelieving it’s possible is the foundational belief behind improving your work ethic. Stamina is something you can strengthen through regular practice. In the same way that a couch potato can build up to a marathon, you can transform your low-energy self into the mental equivalent of a marathon runner. Nearly anyone can do this, but it’s hard work.3. Get to Work Before Your Mind Makes ExcusesIf work ethic is like a muscle that gets stronger with use, then the primary way to get your reps of practice in is to recognize a reason to stop working and decide to keep going anyway. I keep a notebook on my desk, and anytime I feel like stopping or giving in to distraction, I write down the reason, and then I put down my pen and get right back to work.4. Think of Work As Something You ‘Do,’ Not As Something You ‘Get Done’For too long, I saw work as an obstacle to the things I wanted to do. But this positions work as an adversary. Work is not something you get done, as if you’ll one day reach the end of your checklist and feel complete relaxation. In reality, work expands—it’s a never-ending stream of things you should or could be doing. My approach is to stop thinking about work as something I have to finish but simply as something that I do. Sometimes, I’m working, and when I am, that’s where my energy goes. And other times, I’m not, and that’s good too. Wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, I just embrace it.5. Resolve Not to Give in to DistractionI’ve written plenty about distraction and wrestled with it my whole life. I don’t pretend this battle is over, but I know only one tactic that works—making a firm resolution before the temptation. Other tactics, like removing distractions from your sight, setting time limits, or coming up with rewards, do help some. But, fundamentally, you have to improve at keeping promises to yourself. Decide what kind of person you want to be, and be it.6. Connect Your Work Towards a Larger Goal of Who You Want to Become Work is not merely a means to an end. You may want to achieve this or that reward, but the flaw with this way of thinking is that it puts you in a position of defensiveness. Whenever work doesn’t go well, or you get more work on your plate, you feel you are being pushed further from your goals, and the result is increasing annoyance and frustration. Instead, focus on the kind of person you want to become, and only then, dream about where those efforts might take you. But the real fixation should be on the becoming.7. Develop a Mentality of Persistence and EnthusiasmI’ve come to believe that most of life’s problems don’t require more intelligence but rather a special kind of energy. Most people are energized when things are going well and progress is clear, but far fewer can muster enthusiasm when nothing is going well and obstacles are mounting. If this is true, it should motivate us to adopt this mindset each day and not wait for any special inspiration to do the work.8. Settle Into a Relaxed, Focused State of EffortWork doesn’t have to be complicated or something that drains our energy. Much of that effect is merely in our minds. We feel that work is difficult, so we tense up for the effort. But what if work was natural—something you did to relax and defeat the boredom of doing nothing? This may seem impossible, but I find many people carry even stranger beliefs than this—so why not cultivate one that encourages a more enjoyable approach to work?

8 Ways to Improve Your Work Ethic

Your work ethic is defined by how you choose to create it.

Work ethic is still considered a virtue in our society, but there seems to be an underlying assumption that it’s something you have or you don’t.

You might hear someone urge another person to work harder, but you rarely hear people explaining how to improve their work ethic, as they might talk about how to train for a marathon.

This is a shame because the strength of our local communities and our country’s institutions depends on a bedrock of hardworking people.

No amount of intelligence can compensate for a society that lacks foundational virtues like honesty and hard work. Whatever your age or your station in life, you can increase your work ethic, do more good for those around you, and feel good about the person you’re becoming.
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How to Improve Your Work Ethic

In that spirit, here are some starting thoughts about how to improve one’s work ethic:

1. Stop Being Annoyed by Little Frustrations

If you only allow yourself to be happy when things are going smoothly without any bumps in the road, then you will be constantly fighting against work of all kinds. I once believed in a fairytale world of work where everything felt meaningful but easy. Now I see two options—the boredom of work that’s too easy or the challenge of work that is frustrating. I’ve decided to see the frustrations as a challenge and refuse to view them as annoyances that sap my energy.

2. Build Mental Stamina

Believing it’s possible is the foundational belief behind improving your work ethic. Stamina is something you can strengthen through regular practice. In the same way that a couch potato can build up to a marathon, you can transform your low-energy self into the mental equivalent of a marathon runner. Nearly anyone can do this, but it’s hard work.

3. Get to Work Before Your Mind Makes Excuses

If work ethic is like a muscle that gets stronger with use, then the primary way to get your reps of practice in is to recognize a reason to stop working and decide to keep going anyway. I keep a notebook on my desk, and anytime I feel like stopping or giving in to distraction, I write down the reason, and then I put down my pen and get right back to work.

4. Think of Work As Something You ‘Do,’ Not As Something You ‘Get Done’

For too long, I saw work as an obstacle to the things I wanted to do. But this positions work as an adversary. Work is not something you get done, as if you’ll one day reach the end of your checklist and feel complete relaxation. In reality, work expands—it’s a never-ending stream of things you should or could be doing. My approach is to stop thinking about work as something I have to finish but simply as something that I do. Sometimes, I’m working, and when I am, that’s where my energy goes. And other times, I’m not, and that’s good too. Wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, I just embrace it.

5. Resolve Not to Give in to Distraction

I’ve written plenty about distraction and wrestled with it my whole life. I don’t pretend this battle is over, but I know only one tactic that works—making a firm resolution before the temptation. Other tactics, like removing distractions from your sight, setting time limits, or coming up with rewards, do help some. But, fundamentally, you have to improve at keeping promises to yourself. Decide what kind of person you want to be, and be it.

6. Connect Your Work Towards a Larger Goal of Who You Want to Become 

Work is not merely a means to an end. You may want to achieve this or that reward, but the flaw with this way of thinking is that it puts you in a position of defensiveness. Whenever work doesn’t go well, or you get more work on your plate, you feel you are being pushed further from your goals, and the result is increasing annoyance and frustration. Instead, focus on the kind of person you want to become, and only then, dream about where those efforts might take you. But the real fixation should be on the becoming.

7. Develop a Mentality of Persistence and Enthusiasm

I’ve come to believe that most of life’s problems don’t require more intelligence but rather a special kind of energy. Most people are energized when things are going well and progress is clear, but far fewer can muster enthusiasm when nothing is going well and obstacles are mounting. If this is true, it should motivate us to adopt this mindset each day and not wait for any special inspiration to do the work.

8. Settle Into a Relaxed, Focused State of Effort

Work doesn’t have to be complicated or something that drains our energy. Much of that effect is merely in our minds. We feel that work is difficult, so we tense up for the effort. But what if work was natural—something you did to relax and defeat the boredom of doing nothing? This may seem impossible, but I find many people carry even stranger beliefs than this—so why not cultivate one that encourages a more enjoyable approach to work?
.