Life Hack: Working Smart at Something You Love is the Key to Ultimate Happiness

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO—Since embarking upon my adventure, I’ve been a staunch follower of Pareto’s Principle, or the 80/20 rule: 80% of your profits come from 20% of your clients, 80% of your problems come from 20% of your customers, 80% of your given output comes from a designated 20% of your inputs…the governing logic is that not all efforts will produce equal results. Work smarter; not harder, and eliminate waste that isn’t contributing to your bottom line.



This applies to traveling in a multitude of ways. From spending money wisely to choosing the most efficient mode of transportation, I’ve tried to approach things as smartly as possible, using my given resources in targeted fashions that will get me the most bang for my buck. This has applied to work as well—I’ve had the pleasure of working a half-dozen weird jobs requiring varying talents across a wide range of disciplines. It’s meant working as a front desk agent in Alaska to be able to see Denali—and making enough money to sustain myself while traveling until my next little adventure.


Pareto’s Principle is an effective method for getting what you want, but I’ve found that it contrasts starkly with the American ethos of hard work and reward. In our culture, we are taught that if we work hard at something, good things will come to us. Anything other than pushing your nose to the grindstone means that you’re lazy.


As someone that used to bemoan the drudgery of a 5-day workweek, a dose of perspective has let me see its merits. After working smartly for quite some time to do what I really want to do—travel—I feel like I’ve somehow cheated the system of hard work begets reward. There’s no slogging through five days of tedium, just to say that you’ve earned however you are going to spend your weekend, because what I’m doing during the week is what I’d be doing on my weekends—spending time on a ski mountain.


Other cultures have it differently. Bhutan famously measures their welfare by the National Happiness Index, which replaced Gross Domestic Product in the 1970’s. Europeans and Australians are given months of holiday every year in an effort to provide their citizens with a quality-of-life not found elsewhere. But in the U.S., we are taught to work hard for what we really want, and only when we do that will we taste the sweet nectar of reward.


It’s a weird conundrum, because even though I have worked hard for the past 3 years, it hasn’t exactly felt like work. Everything I’ve done has felt like a tool to get me where I want to be, and allow me to do what I want to do. I’ve changed places and landscapes more times than I can count, each move bringing with it a new set of challenges. Sure, it means I’ll have to work hard, but it also means that I’m doing what I want to do—traveling.


I’m looking to work hard at something, but approaching things from a “work smarter” method has given me some good perspective. The ultimate dream is to find something that you enjoy doing; that you enjoy working hard at, then building a life around that passion. The opportunity to work both smartly and hard at something you enjoy is the real formula for success, and ultimately, happiness.