Hard Work – Defined

Last week, I introduced you to a new community — the Hard Work Network.  (You can read more here.)  We are putting ourselves out there to get the hard work done.  What exactly is hard work?  The traditional view involves heavy lifting and plenty of sweat or maybe long hours at the office.  While it’s possible that this is hard work, it misses the point.

Hard work is doing what you’ve been putting off.  In my case, some of these projects have been waiting for years to get done.  Hard work for a professional athlete is studying film or taking swings in the batting cage.  It’s producing when you’d rather be consuming.  It’s disciplining your children when you’d rather act like friends.  Most importantly, hard work puts you in a position where failure is a possibility.

Seth Godin describes hard work better than I just did in his blog post “Hard Work vs. Long Work.”

Here’s the first project I was able to cross off my Current Hard Work list:

Replacing the retaining wall in front of my house.  When we moved in 5+ years ago, this is what our front yard looked like.

Old retaining wall

It was pretty bad.  The wall wasn’t going to fall over but it had a distinct lean to it.  The caps were in bad shape and it was just plain ugly.  The stairs on the far side of the wall were wood and were structurally sound, but the ground under the concrete sidewalk at the top of the stairs was washing out causing the concrete to crack and fall apart.  This summer, we realized we really needed to do something about it so we had new stairs and sidewalk poured.  We had them remove the wall for us as well.  For what we were charged, we could have barely rented a dumpster and proper tools to remove it, so we feel like we got a great deal.

We were left with dirt sloping back at about a 45 degree angle.  It just seemed too steep to plant anything on so we decided to put in a new wall.

Here’s what we ended up with:

New retaining wall

At this point, we need to add some dirt, plants, and mulch.  I think it looks fantastic!

So, what makes this hard work?

First off, this was our first retaining wall so there was a real possibility that we would screw it up.  I have a tendency to lose patience and interest when things get tedious.  Rule #1 of building retaining walls is that the first row must be absolutely level or every course above that will amplify the problem.  It took a few hours, but we got the first course in place.  The second course went better but by this point, we were exhausted.  The blocks are about 80 pounds each.  We dumped about 1500 pounds of gravel behind the wall 50 pounds at a time.

Next, it was an absolutely gorgeous fall day.  Believe me, I would have much rather been relaxing in the back yard, visiting one of our many area apple orchards, or any number of other things.  We had 2 time constraints.  We needed to get the wall in place before the snow flies, which should be a month or so away. More importantly, we needed to get a wall in place before ran washed too much dirt off the slope and onto the sidewalk.

Last, I knew that the payoff for getting it done would far outweigh the cost of doing it (both financially and physically).  It’s only been a few days and it’s already been worth the effort in satisfaction several times over.

Will you join me as a part of the Hard Work Network?  What hard work do you need to get done?  Share it below.

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About Raun Lauterbach

Optimistic realist, life enthusiast, outdoor cook, Midwest traveler, husband, father... Follow me: Twitter | Facebook | Get updates in your email
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  • http://www.thebootstrapcoach.com/ Josh Bulloc

    Maybe part of making it meaningful hard work is to actually think about the work before.

  • http://www.backyardlifeblog.com Raun Lauterbach

    That’s an excellent point.  If it doesn’t take any advanced planning, it probably isn’t hard enough fit the definition.

  • http://www.thebootstrapcoach.com/ Josh Bulloc

    It is easy to sweat, it is not easy to plan the sweating

  • http://www.backyardlifeblog.com Raun Lauterbach

    That should be on a t-shirt!  It totally captures the thought.

  • http://www.thebootstrapcoach.com/ Josh Bulloc

    A sweaty t-shirt