Chief Executive Insights

3 Secrets to Slash Your Hours without Sacrificing Your Career

Michael Hyatt

Our culture is enslaved to a cult of overwork. “Busy” is a lifestyle. Boundaries between life and work are blurred, if not abandoned altogether. High performance has become synonymous with long hours. We’ve bought into the Hustle Fallacy—the idea that if we crank a little harder, we can push past all the pressure.

Some people, unwilling to opt into a life of relentless drive, opt for another reality altogether. Not wanting to shortchange health or relationships, they intentionally throttle back their career. They pump the Ambition Brake.

The Hustle Fallacy and Ambition Break are two sides of the same coin. They’re the result of believing that we have to choose between the work we love and the life we want. But that’s a false dilemma. There is a way to win at work and succeed at life. I call this the Double Win.

The Double Win is the third option. It’s an approach that values every domain of life. It takes seriously our human limitations and leverages strategy and intention to prioritize what matters most. But at its core, the Double Win sees work and life in partnership, not opposition.

Winning at work gives us the confidence, joy, and financial support necessary to support our personal priorities. Succeeding at life, in turn, fosters a clear mind, creativity, and a rested body, so we can focus on our most important work.

So, how do you make the Double Win your reality? Here are a few strategies to get you started.

  1. Define Your Own Double Win
    There will be no shortage of people with opinions about your priorities. Everywhere you look you’ll find feedback about what is required to be a good leader, an invested parent, a supportive spouse, a well-rounded person. Blindly accepting the expectations of others inevitably leads to feeling overwhelmed. We can’t do it all—but the point of the Double Win is that you don’t have to.The Double Win is about winning at work and succeeding at life on your own terms. For someone else, that might require training for a marathon. For you, maybe it looks like going for a 30-minute walk each day. For someone else, that might look like perfectly themed birthday parties. For you, that might look like being able to be fully present when you pick up your kids each day.

    Before you can pursue the win, you need to define it. What does it look like for you, specifically, to excel in your career without compromising your life beyond work? It’s a question only you can answer.

  2. Schedule What Matters
    Defining your Double Win is an exercise in identifying your priorities. Scheduling what matters is an exercise in executing them with integrity. It’s simple but true: what gets scheduled gets done.If you want to spend more time with your family, cook more meals at home, or create a solution to a longstanding perplexing problem at work, you need to schedule blocks of time to make it happen. Our calendars reflect our priorities—and the gaps between what we claim to value and what we actually do.

    If you want your life to change, your schedule must look different. Take a look at how you defined your Double Win. Then, make sure your schedule puts it into action.

  3. Keep a Hobby That Delights You
    “My work is my hobby,” we’ve heard clients protest. They love their work. Downtime is an opportunity to get more done. But that’s missing the point.There is tremendous power in nonachievement. When you step away from work, you create time to rest, puzzle, think, and dream. You can reset. You can relish in the simple enjoyment of an activity.

    You’re also giving your brain the opportunity to think differently. You let your mind wander. You engage in lateral problem-solving. You might even step into being a beginner again—something we can all benefit from. Pursuing a hobby isn’t a waste of time. It’s a profitable pause.

You don’t have to choose between the Hustle Fallacy and the Ambition Break. Forging a third path will require intention, but the work is well worthwhile.

For more strategies to achieving the Double Win, or for a deeper look at the research behind what I’ve discussed today, pick up a copy of my new book, Win at Work and Succeed at Life.


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Michael Hyatt
Michael Hyatt is the founder and chairman of Michael Hyatt & Co., which helps leaders get the focus they need to win at work and succeed at life. Formerly chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Michael is also the creator of the Full Focus Planner and a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author.

Books by Michael Hyatt:
Win at Work and Succeed at Life: 5 Principles to Free Yourself from the Cult of Overwork.

Michael Hyatt is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.