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4 Reasons Why Your Hard Work is Not Getting You Anywhere



frustrated at workImagine you have a race to run. The track stretches out before you. You do a little jogging to warm up. You are ready. You go down on one knee…on your marks…get set…go!

You run, you run really hard. Half an hour later, you realise that the finish line still seems far off. So you run a little harder. An hour later, you realise that the finish line must be playing tricks on you. It does not seem to be getting closer. You look down and notice to your annoyance that you are only one step away from the starting line. But you’re giving the race your entire energy.

So why are you not getting anywhere?

This metaphor describes many of us in our career. You’ve worked hard at it for three years, five years…and it seems that you are only working so hard but not getting anywhere. Why?

Here are a few reasons to answer your question:

1.You Are Not Getting Anywhere and You Know It
If you are in the same situation I was a few years ago then you probably have not realized that your hard work and the results do not equate. If, however, you have come to that point then you are doing a great job already. Admitting it is the hardest part, but once you get to that point, it can only get better.

Few years ago I was working in a company that went through some sort of financial crises and as a result we (all employees) were not paid for months. The unfortunate thing about my situation is that I kept hoping that things would get better because we heard nothing from the management. I burned months of saved salary going to the office every day and getting nothing in return. Until one day, I seized control of my mind and stopped the pity-party.

This may not be your situation. It could be that you are moving from one job to another and you have not yet found fulfillment. It may be something else.

What To Do –  Stop, Think & Re-strategize
There is no need working that hard for nothing. I would suggest you stop for a little while, think and re-strategisz your race and focus on Point Two.

2. You Have Not Developed Your Skills
One of the reasons why you are stuck in your race may be that you are running on a track with thousands of people who are just as good as you are. You are all good but none of you stands out. If you haven’t taken time in the last year to add a new skill to your personal brand, then you are in big trouble. The world is evolving fast and it may soon leave you behind.

What to Do – Equip yourself with New Skills Constantly
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? This is one trick question HR Managers like to ask candidates at interviews, but in truth, it is one question you should have answered in the safety of your bedroom when looking at yourself in the mirror.

If you know where you are going, you will be able to determine the skills that will lead you to your goal. Do you need to polish your Social Media skills? Writing Skills? Software development skills? Are there new trends in your industry not many people know about?

3.You are Running Another Person’s Race
You are bored. This is not your passion. You get to work and set an alarm for 5p.m so you can be among the first people to rush out. Or you want to start up on your own but you don’t have the funds to start you up yet. Well, it is the same story everywhere. But it doesn’t have to be the end of the story. There is always a way out of every situation – it may not be an easy one, but it’s a way all the same.

What To Do – Get Back On your Track!
You may have to stop that race and backtrack a little. What was the initial plan? Why are you here now? How can you get out of it? Do you have what it takes to get out of it?

Focus on number 2 if it helps. If you want to be an entrepreneur and all you need is the motivation, well here is the nudge you need. If it’s the capital to start your business, then you better start saving for the d-day, because it will come and when it does, you want to be armed to the teeth and ready for it.

4.You are Being Too Nice!
Are you one of those people that say ‘Yes Sir’ ten times in the morning before your 1st cup of coffee? Are you someone who says ‘Yes’ every single time someone asks you to help out on a task even when your desk is filled with assignments? Are you one who hides at the back in a meeting and wouldn’t raise a hand when a colleague is saying something you think is wrong.
You get the idea. If you are that person, you have a long way to go indeed.

What To Do – Be More Aggressive
When I say nice, I really mean ‘timid’. Being nice is a good thing, but one thing I have learnt in the corporate world (although I learnt it late), being nice is like shooting yourself in the face. Nobody wants to do that. Being nice is like being the office wall paper- you are there but no one notices you.

I suggest you step up your confidence level before your ‘aggressive’ colleague is promoted before you. Learn to be firm. Learn to be aggressive (I hear you snickering at that). Yes, I said it: learn to be aggressive. Like my best friend would say: “you can be replaced anytime”, and if there is the need to promote someone and no one can vouch for your confidence level, guess who they’ll think of first? Definitely not Ms. Goody-too-shoes. You may be good at your job, but can people remember you?

Now when I mean ‘aggressive’ I don’t mean sticking your nose in other people’s business or bugging your boss to death about a new idea you have. I mean saying no when you mean no, reading up on trends in your industry and discussing it confidently with your boss and claiming the glory for a job well done when it is your due.

Finally, invest in yourself wisely. Looks are great. By all means get the latest Prada if it will make you happy or get you a better job. But if it will not get you where you want to be in the next five years, I suggest you save the money and improve on your brain power and confidence.

Ifesinachi Okoli-Okpagu is a writer and marketing consultant. She is also the editor of, an online brand expression to motivate women to be the best they can be. You can follow her on Twitter: @ifesinachio_o or send her a mail on [email protected].

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