8 Reasons Why Hard Work Alone Won’t Always Bring You Success

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.



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, learning without playing makes Jack a dull boy, so working hard without playing won’t help right?

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 Africans 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?

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?

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.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.

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.

8.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.

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.

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