Your Life’s Work Will Probably Not Pay Off Immediately. And That’s Okay

Thomas Oppong
Jul 14, 2017 · 4 min read

The opposite of overnight success is overnight failure. Stop looking for shortcuts. They build weak and unstable foundations.

Some people have trained themselves to believe that the only kind of success worth having is overnight success. If you don’t have realistic expectations, you can quickly get into the wrong state of mind.

You cannot expect to wake up successful one morning.

It takes time and effort to achieve anything worthwhile in life. Success takes an investment in time, dedication, and sacrifice. It’s a process. True dreamers and achievers don’t get discouraged easily.

Every successful person painstakingly made progress until they became the next big thing.

In the book, “Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE, Phil Knight says “So that morning in 1962 I told myself: Let everyone else call your idea crazy . . . just keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and don’t give much thought to where “there” is. Whatever comes, just don’t stop.”

Progress is the greatest motivator. Don’t stop because it hasn’t paid off…yet. Persist because you are making progress.

Julius Caesar once said, “It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.”

If you are going through a difficult time, don’t stop. If you encounter a negative experience, don’t hold on to it.

Negative experiences have a purpose. They give you the context you need to appreciate positive experiences.

They build endurance and grit. “Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in,” says Bill Bradley.

An Apple can be devoured in a matter of seconds. But it requires time, growth, and even more time to become an edible fruit.

Epictetus once said in The Discourses (a free four sections book)

“No greater thing is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.”

Every project, invention, or works of art — take time and effort to produce. Patience is the ultimate virtue. And to do great things, you must couple it with unrelenting persistence.

People give up too soon because they have wrong expectations of themselves and the outcome. They expect the way to be easy, and they are surprised when they find the reality to be the opposite.

Their enthusiasm quickly melts and they lose heart.

Remember, there is no such thing as cheap success. Expect a hard way, not an easy one, and you will be mentally prepared when you encounter the reality.

If you are constantly moaning about how long it takes to achieve anything, you’ll get nothing done, you’ll never get anything.

You audience will pay you or engage with your content in direct proportion to the value they receive from you.

People pay for value, valuable people succeed.

The secret to finding fulfillment, in general, is to do something of value to yourself and/or others regularly.

Persist. It matters!

Calvin Coolidge once said “The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”. Talent and genius cannot take the place of persistence.

Start any project with baby goals. Small daily actions done consistently are less intimidating.

Don’t worry about getting healthy in a month. Just stick to the health plan, one day at a time. The results will manifest with time.

Don’t worry about writing a book. Just write one page at a time.

Don’t worry about building wealth.

Just save one dollar a time.

Focus on the process and the outcome will take care of itself.

The process is inherently satisfying if you are working on something that means the world to you.

Over time you will build up massive momentum that will give you the energy to become unstoppable at your craft.

Think for a moment. Names like Picasso, Mozart, Abraham Lincoln, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Elon Musk should remind you about long-term success and what it takes to get to the top. And why it pays to keep on trying.

Dale Carnegie said, “ Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”

Success takes time… so why not start now?

“The important thing is this: to be ready at any moment to sacrifice what you are for what you could become,” says Charles Dickens.

Everything has a price.

You can’t have an amazing lifestyle without sacrificing something. Every successful person you know today has a “price” story to tell. There is no substitute for sacrifice when it comes to success. The price is the way.

A relentless obsession with achieving outrageous results has everything to do with your success.

In the words of James Allen, “He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much; he who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.”

If you’re starting something new, expect a long and challenging journey. But it’s worth it if it’s something you deeply care about. Something that brings out the best in you. Time passes quickly in this mode.

And remember what Phil Knight said, “If you’re following your calling, the fatigue will be easier to bear, the disappointments will be fuel, the highs will be like nothing you’ve ever felt..”

The price of success is much lower than the price of failing to persist. How much is success worth to you?

Before you go…

If you enjoyed this post, you will love Postanly Weekly (my free digest of the best productivity, career and self-improvement posts). Subscribe and get a free copy of my new eBook, “The Power of One Percent Better: Small Gains, Maximum Results”. Join 23,000+ readers.

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Thomas Oppong

Written by

Founder @AllTopStartups | Featured at Forbes, Business Insider, Inc., etc. | I share life and career tools at

Personal Growth

Sharing our ideas and experiences.

Thomas Oppong

Written by

Founder @AllTopStartups | Featured at Forbes, Business Insider, Inc., etc. | I share life and career tools at

Personal Growth

Sharing our ideas and experiences.

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