Why Forcing Things, And Working Hard, Can Actually Push Success Away.

How often have you heard phrases like this throughout your life:

  • "Hard work is the key to success…"
  • "Work hard and you can do anything…"
  • "If something isn't hard – it's not worth it in the long run…"
  • "No pain no gain…"
  • "Sometimes you need to endure suffering so you can be happy in the long run…"

If you're like me, probably a lot. In fact, I've lived most of my life with these ideals as a guide. Everywhere I've turned I've seen reminders of them… In books… movies… seminars… audio tapes… conversations… TV shows… etc., etc., etc. 

"Wake up at 5am and get to work! Then work until sun down! If you want to be successful – this is what it takes."

Can I tell you something though?

Lately my life has flipped upside down and backwards. See, these ideals simply stopped working for me. I recently got to a point in my business where no matter how much hard work I put into it… no matter how much time and energy I put into it… 

It was sinking faster than the Titanic (post-iceberg-collision)…

I went to networking meeting after networking meeting… I went to seminars… I sent out letters… I called old clients asking if they had any new work for us… I asked past clients for referrals… Every day I spent hours planning, and executing. I followed those ideals to the T. But we just couldn't get any new clients! Our funds were draining, but it seemed there was nothing we could do.

In fact, I felt like each of these actions pushed my success further and further away. I knew it was happening – I just didn't know what to do about it. Every business and self-help book I've ever read talks about hard work being the antidote for any problem in your business.

None of them talk about what to do when hard work isn't cutting it.

But everything changed when I did one simple thing:

I stopped.

I literally. Just. Stopped. I gave up.

I didn't try to get clients. I didn't try to get referrals. I didn't try to design new marketing plans that would bring in new business. In fact, I didn't even work. I went with my life partner (and biz partner) Louise to a beautiful lake near our house, where we sat everyday, just enjoying the surroundings.

We did this for a few days – or maybe it was a week – I don't quite remember.
And that's when it happened…

That's when our phone started ringing. Instantly, we got 2 big jobs. Then, a past client called with more work than we could even handle. We launched a product within 1 month of that time – and it's bringing us recurring income for very little work. 

In fact, work isn't feeling like work at all. Every day I wake up, enjoy my life, and work when I'm inspired. 

Now don't forget! This happened after MONTHS of trying to force things – of trying to do everything "in the book" to get clients.

Since then, three things have happened:

  1. I enjoy my work much more. The pressure is gone. The fun, excitement, and adventure is back.
  2. I always get my work to my clients on time.
  3. Our income is rising constantly.

Now, number 2 is a big deal. When I dove into this lifestyle, I was afraid that I would never get any work done. I thought I'd just laze around… or take hikes and play on my computer all day… 

And I did that stuff.

But I found that very naturally – there were times that I had a strong desire to work. I felt inspired to go do research and write copy on projects. And when I worked inside of these bursts of inspiration…

I worked faster, funner, and more efficiently. I got my work done 10x faster – and without any stress or worry.

In fact, whenever I start to feel stress or worried about a project, I simply stop and go do something else. Then, once the feelings disappear, and my relaxed state is back – I get back to work.

So this is my plea to you…

If you too have run in circles chasing your tail… TRYING, TRYING, TRYING to make things work. Forcing them with all your might. Pushing them like some giant boulder through your life… And it's not working… And you feel yourself getting more and more drained…

Just stop. Take a deep breath, and spend a day following your spirit. Enjoy your life. Let things happen naturally.

Aftrer all, the tallest tree in the world never spent one second "forcing" its way to get there. It simply planted its roots, and allowed the sun and the rain to come and help it grow.

Leave me your thoughts in a comment. I'd love to hear them.

To happy lives,


13 Replies to “Why Forcing Things, And Working Hard, Can Actually Push Success Away.”

  1. David,

    What a beautiful and inspiring post. We’ve been living this way for quite a while now, and it feels good to look back over those experiences – those gruesome, tiresome months of stressful stress and work – and see how far we’ve come.

    I think a big part of getting here has been realizing that the main reason we created so much stress and hardship was to fill a space in our lives we were afraid of simply experiencing…afraid of just being, without definitions or to do lists or so many things that have become ingrained in society today…afraid of just being and living and having space and emptiness too.

    So to anyone out there who is fed up with trying so hard all the time and wants to give this a shot…I say go for it! really go for it! There may be some bumps and bruises along the way, but the living that ensues is much more true and free.

    Thank you for the inspiration!

    1. Lou, thank you so much. Even though we talk about this all the time (lol) I still really appreciate and agree with what you wrote.

      You’re welcome 🙂

  2. I agree…I think it’s very important to take a break…totally important for creative thinking as well. However, do you think you would have had those clients show up if you hadn’t done the backbreaking work beforehand? It seems like you set the stage and were ready for whatever was to come! I do think it’s important to think about priorities and sometimes it’s easy to forget what’s really important in our lives…I think it’s wonderful that you do that.

    1. Hey, I’m so glad you finally found my blog! After all this time LOL!

      I see where you’re coming from – and I think a lot of times this is the case – however the clients we got weren’t related to a single thing that we did. They were totally, TOTALLY random. Like, just bizarre.

      Well, actually, now that I think about it one of them was attached to it. But even he came from an extremely, extremely unexpected source.

      I think for the months we didn’t get business, the universe was providing us an opportunity to just relax and re-group ourselves. We’d just come out of a major conflict with our former business partners, and that conflict changed our businesses – and our lives – from there on out.

      But when we just couldn’t get any new business – we freaked out. And rather than deal with that, we “got to work.” We plowed through each day and tried to change what was going on. Looking back, I realize that we could have just enjoyed those months, and everything still would have worked out fine.

      However, I’m glad we stressed ourselves to our limits, because I learned this amazing lesson, and it’s completely changed the way I live my life.

      Anyway, what do you think? And thanks for leaving such a thoughtful comment 🙂

      1. I see what you’re saying…probably a lot of times we look back in our lives and see that things unfolded in such a way that we didn’t need to have all of that anxiety about the future. But, I do believe that the hard work you put in beforehand, prepared you for what you had to do when the opportunity presented itself, as well as let you know what you COULD do. Maybe it prepared you for knowing your limits…

  3. Oh my Goodness! I can SOooo relate to this post! My husband and I have owned a business for 12 years (www.xpletive.com) and it has been a constant struggle! We took up hiking and it has really helped put things in perspective and opened up the door to creativity and ideas. Unfortunately we just moved from CA to TX, so no more Sierras – but I do get that same sense of “Zen” on my long runs. Great post!

    1. Hey, thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kelly. Nature can be pretty remarkable, huh? That’s neat that you discovered something you could do to “zap” you out of the cycle of hard work -> feel drained -> hard work -> feel drained -> rinse and repeat…

      If only I’d realized it sooner lol.

      When you say it helped put things “in perspective”… What exactly do you mean?

  4. David,
    This is so interesting and a great read! I have had experiences like this too! Isn’t it strange how life has a way of teaching us lessons like this. I’m glad to hear that business is doing well and that you have learned a valuable lesson through all of this.

    Also, I have to say, every time I recall the title of your blog, I think to myself, “That is one of the most creative blog titles I’ve ever heard”. You’re a phenomenal copywriter and entrepreneur.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Preston, thank you so much man. I greatly, greatly appreciate your kind words and appreciation 🙂

      If you’d care to share, I’d love to hear about some of these experiences of yours. Or maybe you could just share one good one 😉

      Hope everything’s been going awesome for you,

      1. David,
        Great follow up question. I should have shared one, sorry!

        This is what happens to me most often:
        Whenever I am focused on making money and building my business, I do moderately well, but not extraordinarily. When I take a moment, however, and think of other people, donate to good causes, spend time with my family, somehow God gives me more work.

        I’m a firm believer that if you put what’s most important first (whether that is family, God, caring for others, philanthropy, etc etc.), everything works out better for you in your business.

        Thanks for asking, David.

  5. Merry Christmas!!!

    Your deep wisdom is so refreshing, David.

    I am reminded of the wonderful old adage: “You can’t push the river.” And, boy, have I tried to push a lot of rivers over these years! Of course, the adage is true, because all I created while trying to push was one huge complexity after another, exhaustion, and frustration. Just as you found, as well, but, thankfully, at a much younger age than I.

    Nature is certainly the most healing, restorative, and reliable fix I know, as you and your other responders know, too. How amazing it might be if everyone on the planet took even five minutes a day to focus solely on/in Nature.

    You have found your flow, Dear One. Just as the river finds its flow. Bravo!!! A river can only be vibrantly healthy when it is flowing. If the flow stops, it becomes stagnant.

    You are, indeed, one of the true pioneers for the New World, David. Thank you for sharing your experiences. A beautiful “model” for all of us to remember and follow.

    All Blessings!

  6. Hello there, I’m hoping this is not too late as I am just now running across this via a web search.

    This lesson is hard for me to assimilate as I am working to be independant. For a long time, I have dealt with health issues that would make it not wise to work a traditional job, and so I had sought the entreprenurial route. I’ve always had the spirit and plethora of ideas, but for many years my many ideas would not bloom. No nurturing, shifting, changing was produce the money I want.

    I know it’s not to focus on money, but when you have limited ways to work and you want to secure your future, you expect that the effort and good will you put out will be returned. While I certainly know that money is not the end all be all, it is my main focus, because I need to start taking my future and present seriously. I need to eat, I need to eventually pay bills, etc. I don’t have idle resources to really pull on to make that leap of “not doing” to just let things flow.

    My question is, how do you tackle such a complex set of circumstances, when you future and present depends on you actually bringing in some kind of income?

    Thank you so much for making this article, it’s really giving me a lot to think about.

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