Stop giving 'work hard' a bad rap
I personally don't like the automatic association made between working hard and working long hours.
I feel like if you tell someone that you work hard these days you may get a lecture on work-life balance, increased death rates among those that work long into the night, or some other shit like that.
There is another way to look at working hard that only involves the hours during your regular workday. That's working DEEP.
And, in my opinion, it's also in educating yourself about your industry.
Every time I make a switch in industry or need to up my skill level, the first thing I do is consume everything I can about that job. What that does is fill my brain with knowledge that I believe to be important in understanding the big picture of what I'm trying to create.
Right now, I have books that I'm reading; Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy, On Writing, by Stephen King, What to do when it's your turn by Seth Godin and Crushing it by Gary Vaynerchuk.
I already like to read in my spare time anyway, so it doesn't FEEL like extra work to me. I get to treat these books like mentors and use them to work even harder during the hours I'm actually AT work.
The knowledge I learn from them allows me to do deep work. It will eliminate learning curves as quickly as possible.
THAT is working hard. I still work 8 to 5 like many in my industry. But, during that 8 to 5, I'm working, learning, and navigating new landscapes. Because my next job involves me understanding more about design I'm starting to look at the world differently and, instead of just going to Target on the weekend, I'm planning trips to museums and looking for activities that will enhance my design understanding.
Work-life balance is silly. It's drawing a line in the sand that says 'this belongs in the work box' and 'that belongs in the life box.'
It's all life, man. You get one. Make it a deep one. And stop making excuses as to why you shouldn't have to work hard.