I thought I had a great work ethic.  I worked hard.  I ended every day exhausted. I felt stress about work and had a hard time unplugging from my day.  I wouldn’t stop until either the work was done or I would collapse. I thought, “I have to do more, but there is no time”. I would run this race every day trying to keep up. I always wanted to be doing more than I was.

When I said yes to something, then I worked long hours to get it done and I usually did a good job on it. So people asked me for more. And I was a people pleaser so I tried to say yes as often as possible. And I got burnt out. When I was burnt out I would tend to procrastinate on some of my commitments but near the deadline I stepped up my game and got it done. (Weekends and evenings and lost sleep)

I this a strong work ethic? I used to think so.

But then a coach told me I needed to improve my work ethic.  I got mad.  How could I work even harder?

But that’s is not what work ethic means. It turns out I got it wrong.


Most people have a terrible work ethic and they have no idea.  In corporate America we have a strong culture of rewarding being busy, working long hours and being the hero that gets it done at all costs.  Now that many of us are working at home, we don’t know how to shut off at the end of they day.  For essential workers who don’t work at home the demand is much higher due to being short-staffed. We never learned how to say no, stop and rest and it is making burnout worse.

So what’s the solution?

Cultivate a great work ethic! This means:  You work hard when you are working, rest hard when you are resting, and play hard when you are playing. Focus on one thing at a time, care about quality, and you STOP working in order to rest and refresh yourself. You don’t make more commitments than you can keep. People with a fantastic work ethic know that this is they only way to keep up the pace for the long haul.

The best news?  This means to have an amazing work ethic you need to stop working, relax, play and have down time.

Here is a checklist I want you to refer to in order to create a great work ethic.

  • Know what’s important to you
  • Allot the time to complete that work to the best of your ability. 
  • When it is time to get going, get going all in.
  • Don’t let anything distract you from the task at hand.  (pings, txts, emails, anything)
  • Complete the work in the time you have set side for it. 
  • Move on to the next commitment you made to yourself when it’s time (even if the commitment is “take a break”. )
  • Always honor your commitments with the best quality you can.   
  • Never make a commitment and then decide not to keep it.  Say yes up front or say no up front.
  • Plan ahead for the unexpected so that it doesn’t derail your original plan. 
  • Know for sure that if you make a plan, you will achieve it. 
  • Learn to trust yourself completely. 

That is the best work ethic. 

It is the kind of work ethic I learned to strive for from my coach.  I am still learning and working on it.  It is the kind of work ethic that I can help you cultivate for yourself.  Schedule time with me to find out more

Inspired Leader LLC – I offer life and career coaching.
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