“I can’t call a person a hard worker just because I hear they read and write, even if working at it all night. Until I know what a person is working for, I can’t deem them industrious… I can if the end they work for is their own ruling principle, having it be and remain in constant harmony with Nature.”EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 4.4.41; 43
Yesterday’s topic from The Daily Stoic was the value of work, and how it is nourishment for the mind and soul. Which is still very true.
But just simply working hard at something is not sufficient. It needs to be something of value. It needs to be aligned with your own ruling principle and in harmony with what’s right for you. You need to consciously be striving toward a goal, not just keeping busy.
Just as I’ve written in the past that learning is not enough, that it must be accompanied by action… then you can extend that same truth to action/work — just doing it isn’t a mark of huge accomplishment. Hard work alone is not enough. You need to be working at something that matters, and as Ryan Holiday put it, you need to know “why you are doing it.”
Otherwise it’s not worth doing at all. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that by keeping yourself occupied, and just keeping yourself busy, that you are doing something worthwhile. There needs to be clear purpose behind it.