You Have To Put In the Work

(Originally posted on LinkedIn 3/17/2017)

Ever heard of the phrase, nothing is free. Well, for the most part nothing is free, not even your time.

When it comes to your professional career or even your personal life, you have to put in the work. This means doing what you need to do to excel.

I cannot tell you how many times I get questions from people asking me how I was able to move up the ladder. When I tell them all that I had to do, they were amazed of how much work it really was.  However, it does not end there.  They ask me how they can get from point A to point B. When I tell them their options from my perspective, the response is even more astounding! They cannot believe how much they have to do to get there. What is worse is the realization of making a commitment to something they did not think was relevant. This, in itself, is a very hard thing to acknowledge.  My reply is “Did you expect it going to happen on its own or without any input from you to make it happen?” Not in the least.

Here is the reality. Most people do not realize that many highly successful people became successful because they put in the blood, sweat, and tears to get there.  They put in the work, and then they surrounded themselves with others to support their cause. The story does not end there. They are “still putting in the work” to stay there because if they stop, it all stops. It is like your job, if you stop working, you stop making money.  Therefore, you always have to put in the work.

Every piece of knowledge or skill you are fortunate to learn requires your commitment to learn it, work to master it, and become an expert in it. Therefore, you must put in the work. No one is going to hand over a silver platter to you and give you a promotion without first mastering your craft and showing your value. The same goes for your personal life. You have to do things on your own before anyone will find value in what you are doing.  On LinkedIn, I liked a post about Mary Callahan Erdoes, one of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women.  On the photo it said “Be an Expert at One Thing”. This is what you need to do.  Pick something you are good at and master it!

Of course, you can have more than skill or profession, and you can even be considered successful in your personal life in whatever you are good at; however, be strategic. You do not want to have too many areas of expertise that it becomes confusing and hinder your ability to excel. This can cause you to stall because people are having a difficult time envisioning your talents and finding value in what you do. So below, I want to give some tips on how you can “put in the work” which will keep you moving!

1.   Understand that nothing will happen unless you put in the work first. Do not wait for someone to start the process for you because this is your life.

2.   Decipher the difference between an excuse and an obstacle. An excuse to not do something is just a reason you talked yourself into so you will not have to do it. An obstacle is a temporary situation that can be resolved. So, get in the habit of overcoming your obstacles and not make excuses on why you cannot proceed.

3.    Procrastination is a time killer! Start with smaller tasks and work your way up to the tasks that you considered difficult. You will find that it was not that difficult at all. You will be surprised that you are more than capable, so be proud of yourself!

4.   Turn your tasks into goals. Accomplish small goals and then move on to bigger goals until you achieve your ultimate goal. This will help you build self-confidence and enable you to move forward faster.

5.   Keep the naysayers at bay. The last thing you need is a naysayer supporting your excuse not to put in the work and making you feel that you cannot do it by yourself. This can handicap you! Surround yourself with those who will support you, build you up and will work with you to do the work, not do the work for you. If there is no one, do not worry you have yourself to support. Just keep your head up; you can do this!

6.   Everything you do has value. So make the best of every moment and do not doubt yourself for one moment.

Besides these few pieces of advice I have given above, all there is left to do is “DO IT”. No need to wait any longer. All excuses are gone! You have it in you to step up and start working towards whatever you set your mind to achieve.

Anne Alston is a professional Career Coach, Mentor, and Author.  She is the Founder of Alstntec. You can find more articles at

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