Wanna hear a Labor Day joke?
I’d tell you, but it doesn’t work for me.
It pains me to say it, but there once was a comedian who told an awesome joke about Labor Day…and I forgot who it was.
I want to say Jim Gaffigan? He talked about how lazy Americans are with the phrase “In honor of all those who work, we’re not gonna.”
It got a serious amount of laughs but a lot of truth is said in jest.
Do the normal American ways of celebrating Labor Day really make sense? If we celebrate a holiday but don’t stop to think about the true meaning of it, are we really celebrating? Or are we just stuffing our faces and drinking?
Look, I’m not gonna tell you to show up to your building and be the only one working – that would be freakin ridiculous.
I’m also not here to guilt you into not having a sick barbeque and a few drinks with your family or community.
But maybe we could spend a few minutes really thinking about the TRUE meaning of HARD WORK, and its effect on our own personal accomplishments and the progression of society.
THEN we can move onto that awesome picnic and series of naps you were planning. 🙂
Here are 7 ways you can be better than 80% of Americans this Labor Day.
1. Hard work leads to Success
Labor Day is a holiday that represents freedom. In 1882 they worked 7 days a week and nearly 11 hours a day. Despite the fact that they fought against the power their employers had over them, hard work does actually have tremendous value.
In the same way that it takes serious effort to get a rocket off the ground, the goals that mean the most to us in life often require an extraordinary amount of initial effort.
Diligence is the Hexaco personality test word to describe the level of self discipline and work ethic we possess. Although some people in recent years have adopted the idea that hard work isn’t enough to really succeed in life (which is true) it’s a crucial component.
Being diligent in life means adopting a perspective that work in and of itself is valuable.
The tricky part is making sure you work long enough (but not too long that you waste effort and resources) and on the right things.
So this Labor Day, remember, hard work is a crucial part of being successful at anything in life. Also, strive to make sure that your efforts go towards the things that matter most to you.
2. Hard work is not enough to Win
Even though labor and hard work are serious parts of winning in life, they’re not the only factors that contribute to success.
If hard work were enough, coal miners and farmers would be the richest people on earth.Tai Lopez
Where in your life are you using hard work as a crutch to make yourself think that you’re doing more than you really are?
Where among your goals and ambitions, whether they be occupational or in your personal life, are you telling yourself that you’re working hard, but, really, you’re not working right?
Have you ever heard of working smarter, not harder?
How many times have you told yourself that you just don’t understand why that thing didn’t work, because you worked so hard at it?
If that’s the case it’s a good time to examine whether increasing your labor is really the key to your success.
The primary indicator of how successful you will be in life is conscientiousness. The aspects of conscientiousness are:
- Organization (being methodical)
- Diligence (hard work and labor)
- perfectionism (making sure you do a good job when it counts)
- And prudence (making good decisions when they count)
Whenever you have all of these in line you are:
- maintain a good work ethic,
- are careful,
- thorough and precise.
When you’re not aligned with a high level of conscientiousness you are:
- irresponsible and absent minded.
So you can see, hard work is not the only factor that will take us to the top.
3. Most lose because they don’t do enough
It’s not always who’s the best that matters. Sometimes the only thing that matters is who’s there at the right time.
Most people fail at life because they simply don’t do enough. They’re flimsy with their approach to the results they want.
Labor Day was originally about union workers marching in the streets while protesting the absurd hours they had to endure. So that might lead us to think we should be lazy and say…well…”fuck work”.
That’s fine if you take one day out of the year to mutter a few things under your breath, but make sure you’re doing enough and not just taking a day off for the hell of it.
That being said…
4. Labor is good for your health
Do you know what a blue zone is? I used to live in one on the Nicoya Peninsula. A blue zone is a place where the healthiest and longest living humans on earth dwell.
People have been trying to unravel the mystery of why the longevity for residents of blue zones is so high for a long time, but, having lived there for years, I can tell you right now.
All blue zones have three things in common:
- They omit processed food and alcohol from their diet (mostly)
- They don’t eat a lot of meat (maybe 25% of the dish is meat)
- And They get a tremendous amount of exercise.
When I say exercise, I don’t mean they head to the gym every morning.
When I was living at the monastery in Costa Rica, we had a farm attendant there who helped around the property, which was nearly 300 acres at the time.
During the summer (dry season) there is no rain, and you’re praying each day that the spring doesn’t run dry.
During the winter (rainy season) the monsoons come and the whole place turns into Jurassic park within a week. It’s insane.
The river swells up and floods about 30ft on each side.
During the summer you use solar power, and during the winter (obviously) you use hydro electric.
During the rainy season, walking down to the river is a huge pain in the ass to say the least. I’m talking about a wet slippery 80 degree incline about 300 to 400 feet long to where the turbine is (and back up when you’re done repairing it).
When you finally make it back up the mountain, you’re sweating, exhausted and probably have a headache.
One day I made the trip with one of our farm hands, Juan. He told me “When I was a kid I used to walk up and down this every single day to go to school.”
That’s the whole point.
Exercise is built into these people’s lives. Labor is a way of life and it keeps them healthy and spry until they’re a hundred years old and die peacefully in their sleep.
Taking hard work seriously is also good for our mental wellbeing.
So when you go back to work on the Tuesday after, remember what an honest day’s work does for you.
5. You can’t work hard all the time
Burnout is a real thing. Remember that part about union workers striking and speaking up in favor of a shorter work week and shorter days? According to Jay Zagorsky at The Conversation, that’s quite reasonably a battle that was fought and one long ago.
But have you ever heard the term workaholic? In the U.S. 48% of us say that we’re workaholics, meaning we work ourselves to the bone. A shocking 58% of us say we check our emails as soon as we wake up and worry about work throughout the day.
Trust me I know what it’s like to work my ass off out of financial necessity, and I also know what it’s like to turn on the laptop and work on something you’re passionate about until the sun goes down.
Whether we do it out of necessity or passion, take a break amigos. It’s good for us. Drink a smoothie and listen to The Beatles or something.
6. Use Labor Day to Increase your Productivity
There still might be pressure on you to perform and get a serious amount of work done. So what’s the solution?
Productivity DOES NOT mean doing more, it means getting more of the right things done and making that a habit.
Labor day had two main components during its inception in the late 1800s:
- Unionize laborers across the nation
- Shorter work times (hours and days)
But if you’re still a go-getter and want serious results, you’ll have to find a way to get the same results with less work.
That’s where productivity comes in.
First of all, if you want to increase your awareness of what is slowing you down at work, read these books:
- The one thing by Gary Keller
- Essentialism by Gary Mckeown
You can find them both on the amazon links above, and yes they’re affiliate links…because why wouldn’t they be?
Productivity is a skill that allows you to not do more stuff, but get better and better results.
Productivity shows you what matters and what doesn’t, and allows you to focus on crucial elements of your work that make serious progress while allowing the insignificant things to fall by the wayside.
Do it, it’s better.
7. Spend time with your family / Live your life
There’s one aspect of Labor Day we haven’t discussed yet. With all your free time, what will you do with it?
Having followed these steps, you’re now an insanely productive but still hard working individual with some extra time on your hands.
Why not spend it with people you love at a picnic?