The Problem with “Instant Success”

I thought I depleted my store of self-discipline early in life…

During those years, I spent hours and hours practicing the piano… and later the pipe organ. Practicing means “playing perfectly,” and so that’s what those hours were about.

I made mistakes, I fixed them. I made some more mistakes, I fixed those too.

I did this for about 18 years straight. Practice, practice, practice.

My First “Instant” Success

Around 1997, little old me won a national music competition where I competed against musicians probably twice my age.

From the outside, it looked like a little punk (as much of a punk as you can be when you play the pipe organ) from nowhere Pennsylvania just swooped in and stole the show. An instant success came out of the shadows.

It’s a nice story, but it’s not the truth.

The truth is that my success was hardly instant. It looked that way from the outside, but from the inside, getting there took forever.

My Second “Instant” Success

After a few years in the real world, I realized that life as a church musician wasn’t for me. It wasn’t really the music that was the problem, it was the people. Working in a church just wasn’t what I was cut out to do.

So I basically stopped practicing. I hadn’t depleted my store of self-discipline though. I had just lost interest in the goal I was pursuing.

A few years went by where I tried to figure things out. I worked as a banker, a car salesman and a tech consultant.

Eventually, I opened up a copywriting and marketing business. I made more money that first year than I’d ever made in a single year before in my life.

From the outside, it looked like another instant success.

But it wasn’t instant. It took me 30 years of my life to even figure out that’s what I liked to do.

The Most Important Thing I’ve Learned About Success

Over the years, I’ve come to some conclusions about success.

The most important one is that success never feels like you think it’s going to feel before you get there.

Before you get there, you only think you know what it’s going to feel like to reach that goal.

When I started my copywriting business, the largest salary I was every paid as a church musician was $31,500 a year.

So making $100,000 in a year was a bit outside my reality.

Before I made $100,000 dollars in a year, I thought that reaching that goal would make me feel awesome.

But once I got there, making $100,000 in a year… well, it didn’t feel too much different.

I was still the same person after as I was before.

Fast forward a few years and I’m finally beginning to wise up.

So What Does All of This Success Talk Have to Do With Blogging or Running a Business Online?

It has everything to do with both of those things.

And the reason is that we’re all pursuing something. We all have some goal for our business, our website, our subscriber list or our revenue numbers.

Everyone is extremely focused on measuring the progress towards a goal. But you don’t hear too much talk about the quality of your life during that pursuit. That matters because you’re not getting any of that time back. Once you spend it, it’s GONE.

In fact, much of what you hear in the business world gives you the idea that sacrificing the quality of your life in order to achieve a goal is a badge of honor.

I don’t consider that success at all.

Here’s the idea I want to keep in the forefront of my mind:

Getting there fast isn’t as important as getting there the right way.

But you don’t always know what that “right” way is, so it’s best to stop trying so hard to figure it out and just enjoy living your life.

This might sound silly but it’s not. Here’s the reason:

I spent 18 years of my life learning to be a musician. Believe it or not, those skills are what make me unique as a business owner, copywriter and marketer.

The seeds for my “instant success” as a copywriter were sown in those years of effort sitting on an organ bench.

If I had made it my goal to pursue success as quickly as possible, I wouldn’t have bothered to spend the time in the trenches like I did. It’s that struggle which built the foundation for my future. I just didn’t know it at the time.

The Problem With “Instant Success” Isn’t That It’s Impossible, the Problem Is That It’s Not a Goal Worth Pursuing

Chasing after instant success means you’re investing a ton of energy into something that can only be found in your future. In other words, you’re putting energy where it can’t do you any good right now.

When your only goal is to “get there as quickly as possible,” you fix your gaze on that imaginary point ahead of you and ignore everything else… including the huge opportunities that are right in front of you.

The worst part about this is that the pursuit of “instant success” can make you extremely unsatisfied with how things are… right now.

I don’t know about you, but my definition of success includes me actually being happy. And that will only ever happen if I’m OK with things right now, as they are.

There are great things in your future and you will reach them. But you never know how experiences, relationships and other major life events will play into your future.

Leave the chase for “instant success” to the other guy. You’ve got real places to go.

So take one step at a time building your business or working on your website or blog. Go forward with your eyes wide open, a single step at a time.

You never know what you might discover if you’re paying attention.

About the author: Jason Leister is the Editor of “The Client Letter,” the daily e-letter from ClientsSuck.net, where he helps independent professionals create success.