If you want a better life, you have to work hard.
At one point in time, it was a real possibility. You could put your head down, dedicate your life to a company, and reap the rewards of job security, a pension, and social security. The bargain worked.
More and more Americans are starting to realize the harsh truth: That bargain ended a long time ago, and workers are stuck holding the bag.
Working Hard No Longer Leads to A Better Life
A Reddit user posted a screenshot of a 2021 study showing that people no longer believe hard work is the key to prosperity.
The survey, which aimed for a global perspective, found that 56% of people think capitalism does more harm than good, 83% fear job loss due to new technologies, and less than half (47%) believe their families will be better off in five years.
Users of the popular antiwork subreddit had much to say, corroborating the study.
Gen X is Proof
One user pointed out that Gen X was the transitional generation. They embraced the idea that hard work and company loyalty would lead them to comfortable lives but entered the workforce just as pensions were fading out and companies shifted their policies to reflect shareholder primacy.
“Hearing of what companies USED to do and provide is almost a right of passage for young Gen X workers back in the day,” said one user.
“The American Dream was real, we all saw it. Some of us got a taste. For most of us, it was snatched out from underneath us, as it was being preached to us as what we are working for,” added another.
Not Just a Better Life – Survival In General!
Some users pointed out that working hard no longer guarantees survival, and working hard for a better life is merely a pipe dream.
It’s no surprise people feel this way. Stagnant wages refuse to keep pace with the rising cost of living, so more and more people opt out of the system that no longer works for them.
Hard Works Gets You…More Work
The adage that hard work breeds success may be untrue, but hard work does tend to get you something else: More work.
“Work hard, and they will just push more work on you,” stated one user.
“Why didn’t I get promoted at my last job?” asked another. “I was too good at it,” they answered, implying that companies won’t promote good employees because they won’t be able to replace them.
“The more of a hard worker you are, the more work companies expect of you,” added a third.
Work Hard for Yourself
Working hard for a company will only get you more work. If you’re lucky, you won’t get laid off, and you’ll be paid peanuts with a few benefits to keep you trapped in middle-class drudgery.
However, there are still some avenues where hard work does pay off.
Owning your own business is one of them.
“If you own your own business, then working hard can help to make that business successful and can lead to great improvements in your own quality of life,” said one user.
You can control your output and income if you’re the owner. Your hard work will benefit you and your family. It’s worth the sweat and tears.
However, if you work for a company, your hard work will only serve to enrich the CEO. They won’t return your loyalty or keep their end of the bargain by ensuring a golden retirement.
Busting your butt for a company is no longer worth it.
Work Hard On Yourself
You don’t need to own your own company to make hard work pay off. You can work hard on building your skillset and designing your own career.
Companies no longer show any loyalty to their employees. They consider human resources to be used and discarded as they see fit. The workers who see their hard work pay off know this harsh reality and make it work for them. They use positions to enhance their skills, then jump ship when a better offer comes along.
Those who constantly upgrade their skills and design their own careers around growth rather than company loyalty may find that this type of hard work pays off more than the traditional idea of hard work.
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.