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Before I get into this article, I want to make sure I create clarity and context so no tone is lost on my POVs about hard work and success. Please watch this short video first:

Ultimately, how much you should work is a conversation of “one.” It’s a conversation you need to have with yourself.

I have no interest in imposing my will on anybody. I love working, but I also don’t want to push people to work super hard because they might have different goals. Working hard might not make them happy or fulfilled.

At the end of the day, my vlog and my content is about sharing my journey and perspectives as an entrepreneur. As someone who loves working, I’m just sharing what makes me happy and what works for me.

And at the end of the day, that’s what I want for other people – I want them to be happy.

If you’re complaining about working a job you hate, I think it makes a lot of sense to give up a little bit of short term leisure to try to solve your problems (by building a side hustle you’re passionate about) instead of escaping them through Netflix or something else.

That being said… I notice a lot of people pushing back against hard work in the recent months.

There’s this concept that you can accomplish enormous things by working “smart” without working hard.

There are a few things I have to say about this mindset…

When you’re doing what you love, work doesn’t feel like “work”

A big part of why people don’t want to work hard is because we hear stories of older people feeling regret for spending “too much time” in the office. Many people look back on their lives and wish they didn’t work as hard.

Totally respect that. I completely understand where people are coming from in that regard. I get that people have their own perspectives on what they should or shouldn’t have done, and I don’t want to judge that.

What I will say is, many of those people who spent years working for money might have enjoyed their work more if they worked hard on something they loved doing.

When you love what you do, it’s not as difficult to work hard.

For example… on this AskGaryVee episode, I took a call from a woman who was asking me how to deal with burnout from her job:

After talking to her, I quickly figured out that she wasn’t actually “burnt out”, she just hated her job and wanted to do her dog walking side business full time.

Older people today who regret working their whole lives didn’t have the internet when they were in their prime. It wasn’t nearly as practical to build side hustles back then, so it might have made sense for some people to “work less” overall to have a happier life.

But today, we have incredible options. It’s practical to use your free time to build a side hustle around something you’re passionate about and turn it into an actual business over the course of 10-11 years.

Take your two hours a night and start your baseball card business. Start your Lord of the Rings Podcast. Start your Instagram account. And work for a decade around your favorite thing.

Working hard at something you love can lead to enormous happiness over time.

Fake environments: The reason for burnout that no one talks about

Fake environments are a huge problem not too many people are talking about.

A “fake environment” is a situation where someone’s surroundings “subsidize” their success. For example… if your parents are paying for your lifestyle when you’re well into your 20s, then you’re in a fake environment. If you’re raising millions of dollars for your startup on the back of an idea, you’re in a fake environment.

A lot of startup founders these days are burning out because some of them didn’t start their career from a place of true “merit.” Some of them were able to raise a bunch of money for their startup because they went to Harvard or Stanford, not because they proved themselves to be great entrepreneurs.

So they end up in a situation where they’re “successful” on paper. They get rewarded for something that didn’t deserve a reward, so they think they’re more talented than they really are as an entrepreneur.

In many cases, it’s not actually the hard work that led to their burnout – it was the fact that they weren’t actually doing something they loved or what they were good at.

Hard work isn’t just about your leveling up your career.

Let me clarify something again:

“Hustle” isn’t just about working on building a business or taking your career to the next level.

It’s about going all-in on everything you decide to do – whether it’s the parenting of your children, the relationship with your spouse, and everything else that you deeply care about.

It just so happens that a big one for many people is figuring out how to do something they love. But it doesn’t have to end there.

It’s the only real “secret to success” to accomplish something truly meaningful and fulfilling in any area of life.

If you don’t want people to judge your work-life balance, don’t judge theirs

If you’re super happy working 9 to 5 and watching Netflix every night, that’s amazing!

But at the same time, it makes me sad to watch other people do the reverse – they try to suppress other people who genuinely enjoy hard work and try to tell them that it’ll make them unhappy long term.

This is all one big game of self-awareness. There are no universal formulas for what people “should” or “shouldn’t” do. There’s only what’s right for you.

Personally, I would go crazy if I had to sit on a farm in middle America – I love building businesses. I would go crazy managing a remote team like 37Signals – I love interacting with my employees in person every single day. But if being a farmer or running a remote team makes you happiest, then you should do that.

We need to collectively stop coming from a place of judgement and start coming from a place of empathy.