#68 When Your Hard Efforts Don’t Pay Off

You put in overtime. You take calls/meetings at unreasonable hours of the night. But your efforts don’t pay off. The more you give, the more they want. What gives?

What You Deserve

All you’ve gotten in return is a pat on the back or a “good job,” if that. Where is your bonus, your achievement award, or your stellar performance review? Why aren’t you getting the recognition you deserve?

Ah-ha! The keyword here is deserve. What you believe you deserve is not aligned with your employer’s beliefs, and it shows. And you’re fed up. You’re tired of unbalanced reciprocity.

Let’s break this down a bit and see how we can make the situation less severe.

Outcomes and Expectations

You are probably thinking in a logical manner: hard work should be rewarded. Extra hard work should be extra rewarded. Therefore, it’s not right or fair when efforts don’t pay off. Seems logical.

Hmmm… Not so fast. I may send your mind into a tailspin, so be open-minded and stay with me. 

The logic that hard work should be rewarded is tripping you up. It is easy and tempting to get caught up in a mental cycle of “I should be compensated based on my efforts/performance.” While it sounds logical on the surface, it is a sure way to set yourself up for major disappointment!

Why? Because you do not control rewards, outcomes, or employer decisions. You have no say in raises, bonuses, or evaluations. You may believe you can control these outcomes … by working extra hard, by busting your ass, or by being super dependable. Sadly, your work ethic is not always recognized or considered.

The point here is that when you expect specific outcomes in exchange for work, you will set yourself up to depend on forces outside of your control! For more on this self-destructive habit, see my webinar replay “Career Purpose: When Work Isn’t Working for You.

We do NOT want to do this to ourselves – to depend on employer outcomes for feelings of worth, value or happiness. This habit can drive us towards unhappiness, self-loathe, or worse.

Instead, it would be ideal to implement a reward method that is 100% controlled by you!

Stop the Futile Chasing

You can learn to stop striving for specific outcomes (because unmet expectations will let you down time and again). Instead, you can train yourself to seek reward from within.

The skill of generating reward from within includes a shift in the way you direct your energies. Your energies include your thoughts/beliefs, emotions, and behaviors. By shifting your energies inward, you remove the futile chase for outside reward.

For example, as you go about your day, gradually dwindle your attention away from things like

  • What your boss did or did not give you
  • Whether your employer rewards you enough
  • Trying to control what others think of you
  • External recognition, awards or benefits, etc.

And instead, direct your energies towards your core being. Great questions to ask yourself include:

  • What one hard thing can I do to work on myself?
  • How can I improve my people skills today?
  • How can I get outside my comfort zone to grow myself?
  • Who do I not like right now, and how can I be extra nice to them?
  • What would greatness look like from me today?

This truly is where the hard efforts pay off!

Take Control

If you can work just a little at a time to evolve by do the hard internal work, you will experience intrinsic greatness. It will create a higher version of you each difficult step of the way. Controlled by you 100%. And that, my friends, is part of our purpose on earth.

While it’s okay to want more money or extra rewards, it is not okay if keeps you chasing. It is not healthy if you miserably dwell on the hostile belief that “my hard efforts don’t pay off.”

Pursue genuine effort for effort’s sake. One of my favorite philosophers could not have summed it up any better: “Clinging to borrowed goods is a recipe for pain.” ~Epictetus

Are you in control – I’d love to hear about it!

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