How To Work Harder On Yourself Than On Your Job

Jim Rohn said it best when he reiterated what his mentor, Earl Schoff, told him would increase his fortune. “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” Jim says once he understood that, things really started to turn around for him. For those of you who don’t know, Jim Rohn was a major player in the success of Herbal Life weight loss supplements and an early pioneer in personal development.

There are questions that need answering to further clarify this statement:

  • How do you work harder on yourself than you do on your job?
  • Why should I work harder on myself than on my job?
  • What will I get by working harder on myself than on my job?
  • When will I gain the reward for working harder on myself than on my job?
  • Who has worked harder on their self than on their job?

Let’s dig into these questions and find some answers. If we’re going to get something of value from this discussion, we are going to have to answer these questions and provide ways that you can use the answers to improve your life, current job situation – or even improve your own business.

Why should I work harder on myself than on my job?

If you are reading this, then I assume you are someone who wants to create. You want to create and finish your ideas. You’re looking for answers to help propel your ideas forward. This is a pretty good reason is it not? Let’s take that reason and see if we can add some weight to it.

I’ve had some success working harder on myself than on my job. First and foremost, I’ve found myself a much more capable employee at my full time job as a web developer. I’m starting to see things at my full time job I didn’t before. I’m finding myself getting involved in discussions more whereas before I just sat at my desk and pounded out code. I’m starting to see the company from a strategic and overview perspective. I am volunteering to do presentations. All of this is good.

From personal experience, I can tell you you will become a better problem solver. Working harder on yourself means gaining intelligence and leadership. It means understanding other people and events in the world. If this is true, then you can expect with diligence, you will begin solving problems at your work, and in your own business. This makes you valuable – much more valuable than someone who just clocks in and out from 9 to 5 each day at work.

Jim Rohn said it best, “We must all feel one of two pains: the pain of regret, or the pain of discipline. Discipline weighs ounces. Regret weighs tons.” Personally, I’ve felt the weight of regret. It’s not a fun or uplifting feeling. In the short term, it is much easier to not put in the hard work for a superior life. But the irony is that putting in the hard work now will lead to continued opportunity and fulfillment in life. Wealth, power, influence, and more become available to you as you work harder on yourself. Don’t believe me? Try it for 60 days after reading this article.

Finally, working harder on yourself will give you the skills to better contribute and lead. Someone might say, “I don’t want to lead.” That person has to decide for them self where they want to end up in life. Will the end be a plateau that has been traveled on for years? Or will the end be the peak of a mountain that has been continuously climbed. I imagine the feeling at both of these stages at the end of life will be drastically different from each other.

How do you work harder on yourself than you do on your job?

When tax season comes around, the IRS ‘audits’ people. This means they do a thorough examination of the income and taxes a given person or family filed to pay for the year. I’ve never been audited, but I can appreciate the process of doing a thorough examination. This is the essential first step for working harder on yourself than you do on your job.

Doing a thorough self examination. A truthful self examination is the key here. I can lie to myself and say things are ok, or they are not bad. The self examination should extract everything needing to be improved. This is not a positive self talk session. Focus very specifically on what you can improve and get it down. Digging a little deeper into reality I may come up with a self examination like this:

  • Sometimes I don’t plan ahead enough.
  • Sometimes I fail to exercise and eat right.
  • Sometimes I waste time on activities that aren’t taking me where I want to go.
  • Sometimes I don’t lead my family in the best way.
  • Sometimes I am not as organized as I should be.
  • Sometimes I just need to step back, relax, and soak life in.

This is simply, reality. But it does give me a clear indication of the areas I need to work hard on for myself. It seems that planning ahead and having a clear strategy is lacking at times. This is good to know. I can now take each of the areas I need to improve on and look for tools, resources, and techniques to remedy the problem. I can even get much more specific with each area up here, such as taking the first one and saying it like this:

Sometimes I don’t plan ahead enough. I often just jump right into something because I’m excited about it initially. As time goes on, I realize that I haven’t organized my thoughts and ideas enough and find myself playing catch up after the creation of what I am trying to do. It seems to be much more efficient to exactly know what needs to be done and then follow a plan to make it happen – rather than making it happen on the fly.

Here is a list of tools, techniques, and resources to work hard on yourself than on your job.

  • Books
  • Websites
  • Audio listening programs
  • Videos
  • Getting involved
  • Asking questions
  • Interactive learning
  • Study
  • Facing fears
  • Learning to lead others

What will I get by working harder on myself than on my job?

  • Confidence
  • Persuasion
  • Increased problem solving
  • Higher income potential


Confidence is a measure of how capable you feel in a given situation. I know this from experience. When I was younger, I had to do a presentation in high school. I was so terrified of it that I felt as if my stomach were being sucked in by a black hole. Not only that, I prepared as little as possible in accordance with my philosophy of doing the absolute minimum to get by – at the time. This of course led to a horrible presentation. Now I realize practice and preparation are the keys to delivering a successful speech/presentation.


I know that many of you reading have good ideas. One of the challenges is relaying those ideas to one or more people and having them agree and even support/assist you with them. Generally when I try and talk to someone about my website here, they get glossy eyed. However, I’ve also talked to people about something they already like very much and created a conversation around that and the ability to persuade them sky rocketed. Persuasion comes through understanding people and the world around us. It gives clarity and the ability to speak at the level the person is at. This is one way to make progress – to sell a product or service to someone through persuasion.

Problem Solving

When I was younger, I hated the phrase, ‘problem solving’. I associated a lot of pain with it because problem solving involved extra work and I had a philosophy of doing the absolute minimum to get by in any situation. The problem with this is there are many who also think the same way. If you want to achieve success, you’ve got to rise up and be more than a ‘get by’ kind of person. Let me better illustrate this point now below.

Currently, there is a massive amount of oil spewing out in the Gulf coast. BP, an oil company, is responsible for the oil leak. When I hear most people talk about it, they say they are angry and that the oil is destroying the wildlife in the area. They say that we can go to outer space but not fix an oil leak. So what is wrong?

I don’t deny that wildlife is getting affected. But I think it is naive to say that it is just some hole that should be plugged. It is a problem to pass around blame without taking the time to thoroughly examine the situation. As a problem solver, I’d hope that you are asking the following questions:

  • What specifically created the oil leak?
  • What specifically is the oil coming out of? Is it a tube, a pipe, a giant box – what exactly is it?
  • How big is the opening the oil is coming out of?
  • What kind of opening is it? Is it a circle, square, or a jagged shape?
  • How fast is the oil coming out?
  • How much pressure is the oil creating while coming out?
  • How much of an area is being affected by the oil? Is this area changing because of the water moving in the ocean?
  • How much wild life is being affected by the oil?
  • How deep underwater is the oil leak? How much pressure is created by being that deep underwater?
  • How much oil would spew out if the leak were never closed?
  • How can we get world leaders and businesses to better work together and solve this oil leak crisis?
  • Who are the experts needed to fix the oil leak?
  • What is the complete cost to fix the oil leak for a given plan?

My first thought is to contain the leak with a dome ala the movie, “Monsters Inc”. What I mean is that one of the monsters in the movie had a sock stuck on his back from a child it was scaring. The monster was tackled, cleaned, and shaved. The sock was then isolated by taking a dome and drilling it into the ground around the sock. The sock was now contained and then a blast of electricity was shot in the dome, incinerating the sock. I’m suggesting a containment dome that is drilled into the earth over the leak. Of course this is merely my first thought and someone may have already thought of this and deemed it not a workable solution, not to mention there may be problems, such as an uneven surface and equipment in the way.

As a problem solver, you ask as many tough and detailed questions as possible. But you always have an end goal: solve the problem. You aren’t interested in blaming others. You aren’t interested in getting on a soap box and complaining. You ask the tough questions and then work to find answers. This is higher learning – deep level thinking for success, influence and creating value. I believe were someone to have the answers to these above questions, that they could sufficiently lead an effort to solve the oil leak problem in the gulf.

Look for opportunities at your place of employment (or your own business). I can guarantee you that the processes, procedures, hardware, software, and more are not working at full capacity. There is room for improvement if a problem solver can step in and create solutions. You’ll find yourself more capable by being a problem solver and this will lead you to make more progress and complete more of your own ideas in turn.

Higher income potential

Many people are cogs in a machine – they are working parts of a whole. They follow instructions to the tee every time and their capacity is limited. I know, I was once like this. At work, I clocked in work and clocked out, just happy to be done for the day. I looked forward to weekends with a passion. But by changing this way of thinking, I’ve been able to increase my salary every year since graduating college. I’m now having more opportunity than ever due to working on myself more than my job. Pretty interesting.

I’m serious about the income potential. I’m not making millions of dollars right now. But I started in my very early 20’s making $7.50 an hour. At my job now, I am over $40.00 an hour now (in a salaried position, taking the hourly equivalent at 8 hours a day). This is simply because my value to the market place has increased. The market place is the place where people and organizations are willing to pay people for the value they bring to them and their business.

When will I gain the reward for working harder on myself than on my job?

You can expect a steady increase over time. Beyond that, do not focus on what you will get or you will focus on the wrong thing. If you maintain a focus on increasing your value instead of what you get for that value, you will remain consistent. Your foundation will be stronger. If your foundation is financial reward, you will have a rickety foundation and not be able to maintain consistent growth over a long period of time.

I remember when I was in college. I would get jealous when I would hear how much professor’s or other people were making. I was doing work study – working at the college for $7.50 an hour. My focus was on money. I was jealous. As a consequence, I was stagnant in my growth because I focused on money alone. When I started investing in myself and taking the time to increase my skills and ability, my income proportionately increased.

Who has worked harder on their self than on their job?

There are plenty of people to look at as examples. Whether or not you agree with them is irrelevant – for they have shown the ability to greatly increase their fortunes. They are constantly learning and improving. They are (and have been) leaders in the world today.

  • Jim Rohn
  • Anthony Robbins
  • Seth Godin
  • Les Brown
  • Robin Sharma
  • Tim Ferris
  • Gary Vaynerchuk

My hope for those of you reading is that you will take something and add it to your skills. That you will continue to seek to improve and add value. If you work full time, look for ways beyond your standard duties to help your company grow, add value, save money, and more.

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12 thoughts on “How To Work Harder On Yourself Than On Your Job

    1. Hi Sam – with you there. I think no matter where we end up in life, if we gave it our all we’ll be just fine whenever our life ends.

  1. Hi Jeremy, wow thanks for this in-depth article on how to work harder on yourself rather tha on your job. I think worker harder about yourself is a big part of self-improvement and personal development. Any success, whether it’s having a successful full time job or losing weight, starts with within and not from trying to be successful at the “outside factors” first. When you get your inner problems handled, the everything else outside just comes naturally. Great post!
    .-= Hulbert Lee´s last blog ..Kim Maglinti – Blogger and Creator of Mindset Success Coaching (Interview) =-.

    1. Hi Hubert. I enjoyed your interview with Kim. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I particularly like that you mentioned getting inner problems handled first. It really does start from within and the philosophy we each have.

  2. Great Jim Rohn principle! This is one of the key ideas to transforming a life. Once a person begins to develop themselves, the sky’s the limit.

    1. Hi Ralph. It really is a great principle. I think self development is really the key to unlocking many doors in life.

  3. Hi Jeremy, thanks for sharing.

    Actually, the greatest enemy you faced in life could possibly be yourself!

    Well I think it all starts with having a right mindset and determination to go through the process. I’ll make a change today!

    1. I think you are right bbq. What greater obstacle is there than self mastery to accomplishment. Because we are all smart and creative in the end I believe.

  4. I just had another re-read of this article. Good stuff!

    Jim Rohn said it best, “We must all feel one of two pains: the pain of regret, or the pain of discipline. Discipline weighs ounces. Regret weighs tons.”

    I feel I’m having problems navigating a little and finding the latest articles though… is clicking “Get Going” the right or wrong way to go? Sorry for being slow.

    1. Sam, it’s no problem – in the sidebar on the right, you’ll see ‘Recent Articles’ and that lists the latest 10. Or you can click the ‘Archives’ main link at the top navigation of my website. ‘Get Going’ is just a name for the page that helps people begin making progress. Let me know if that helps!

  5. I wanted to understand what Jim Rohn meant by the phrase “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” I was confused, does he mean do less work at job and do work that benefit yourself. After reading your post and examples, I can better understand it now.

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