We are surrounded by promises of “effortless” success, with slogans and images offering ready-made solutions for every problem. For just a few dollars, we are told, excess pounds will fall off, our social media posts will reverberate around the world, our inbox will burst with new client offers, and best of all, this phenomenal change for the better will be EASY. A piece of cake.
If you’ve ever climbed a mountain, or even a hill, you know that achievement and effort go together. Although we intuitively understand how long it takes to master a skill, it can still be discouraging not to reach a goal in short order. Why can’t we learn to meditate or master those “10 easy” productivity strategies – NOW? Why isn’t a business attracting more clients right away?
Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t seem to change as fast as you would like. Here are a few thoughts on continued growth:
1. Who defines your success? There are so many ideas about “achievement” and “success” that it can be hard to discern which concepts are truly your own. We’ve been conditioned to think of success as showy and extravagant (as in clingy clothes and fast cars), but there really isn’t any uniform standard at all. If you are trying to accomplish something because you’ve been told you “should” or worse, because you feel that something is wrong with you for doing things your way, you are setting yourself up for a difficult struggle. The key to making the best use of your time is to focus on activities that are truly meaningful to you.
2. Think long-term. Don’t disparage the value of advancing in small increments. Depending on your mindset, moving ahead in steady steps can feel great or ridiculous. The same action, taken on two different days, can also produce vastly different results. We’d all much rather follow the “insanely effective” method that “melts abdominal fat in 10 days” or guarantees “150 leads a day”, but unfortunately it only exists in marketers’ minds. The (uncool) truth is that you will have to gradually acquire the skills to optimize your work methods or to balance your time.
If you are trying to accomplish something because you’ve been told you “should,” you are setting yourself up
for a difficult struggle.
3. Do the exercises. The good news is that greater productivity can be learned. When we’re in a rush, it can seem superfluous to work through detailed question catalogs, write essays, or develop new habits. “I’ve got this,” you think as you impatiently browse to the end of the book or fast-forward the video. That may be so, but engaging with a concept on a deeper level means buying into a detailed, step-by-step learning process. Accepting that you don’t know everything is part of that growth.
4. Reassess. Success is neither instant nor linear. As you take the occasional break to assess what is going well, give yourself credit for accomplishments over the past months instead of focusing on shortcomings or failures. It is absolutely normal for goals to change, and growth means having the insight and ability to adapt.
Don’t let the endless chatter about “successful people” and “instant success” diminish your own achievements. It takes vision, mapping, planning, and TIME to move toward the goals you find important. Enjoy the journey. Here’s to you.