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Here's an Alternative to Quick Success: Go Slow

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

"If you look closely, most overnight successes took a really long time."

It’s not about speed

I sometimes feel discouraged by the number of articles I read about bloggers who got 1000 followers in 30 days. Or how they made thousands of dollars in the first four months. Or what it was like when their post went viral and had 10,000 views in a few days.

Just yesterday, I got snarky with my friend because she made the comment that her business had grown so fast and become so lucrative in just a few months because she worked hard. I snapped like a high-school girl in heat. I, too, have worked hard. Very hard.

But she got to “success” much, much faster than I have.

Hard work does not equate to the speed of success.

Today, I apologized to her. Some people just get to their destination faster than others. My speed to success is a slow burn, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to get there. . . eventually.

No matter how hard I work, how many hours a day I work, how many times I post, my growth is slow and my income is small. (I’d like to write one of those articles that frustrate me with a headline that screams, “QUADRUPLE Your Income On Medium In Six Short Months,” but I don’t think going from $5.00 to $20.00 would impress anybody.)

Mine is not a flashy race; it’s the slow, laborious, tortured-turtle walk, one step small step at a time.

It’s not about publishing every day

I wish I could publish every day, and I am envious of people who dash out posts in twenty minutes and crank out multiple pieces of writing every day. The gene for speed-writing is not included in my DNA. For me, I do research. I put in links. I anguish over pictures. Dozens of headline possibilities are run through an analyzer before I develop one that works. It takes me several hours to write anything worth posting — sometimes several days — to complete an article.

I’m a slow writer.

But I’m steady, plodding, and persistent. And that’s how I’m going to get to success, not in the quick flash of an exploding skyrocket, but in the guise of a plodding turtle. Not like the ambitious, young, self-assured, rising stars, but like the sure-footed, steady-in-the-boat, sixty-two-year-old woman I am.

Doing continual, daily, consistent work is the way to achieve success, whatever your definition of it is. While a lucky few may catapult to the top, the vast majority of us are determined “plodders” making slow progress on our ascent to success. We’re taking consistent, small, mundane steps in a forward direction.

It comes one slow step at a time

No matter what you do, whether you’re a writer, an artist, an entrepreneur, a manufacturer, or an accountant, you can do something to move your career forward one small step at a time.

  • Do something to your website every day. Upload a blog, a new photo, a quote, or a new reference. Fresh content gives you more credibility and improves Google rankings.

  • Do research for future projects. For me, this means finding sources, taking notes, creating outlines…. For you, that might mean networking with colleagues, contacting experts, gathering data, doing sketches….. No matter what the task, you’re moving ahead.

  • Gather inspiration by reading, listening to music, and looking at picture books.

  • Prepare rough drafts, reports, charts, infographics, or materials for upcoming jobs.

  • Market yourself. No matter what your business is, you can never stop looking for future work or prospective clients. Do some kind of outreach every day: make phone calls, send emails, search job posting sites.

  • No one ever knows enough. Each and every day — workday or play day — you can at least read blogs, trade journals, or industry newsletters.

  • Listen to a podcast, take a course, or attend a webinar to build your knowledge base. A short period of time reaps huge benefits to spotting new trends, gaining new perspectives, and finding industry thought-leaders.

One small step per day; one giant leap toward success in the future.

It’s different for everyone

Part of understanding “success” is knowing that I’m not like other people. I’m marching to the beat of my own drummer — a drummer who taps out an exaggerated adagio rhythm.

I don’t have unrealistic expectations of making six figures from blogging. My goal is much less lofty. I simply want to make enough money from various writing jobs that I can make $18,000 a year. I’m not expecting high-powered corporations to search me out for some lucrative contract, but if it happened, I’d be thrilled. I’d be ecstatic if some agent out there would ask to see my book manuscript because they’ve liked some of the pieces I’ve written here. But even finding the elusive agent isn’t a success by itself.

Success for me is to give hope, share information, and spark inspiration with my words. Success for me is a modest income, feeling satisfied in the occupation of my choosing, and finding joy in living my own dream.

I may not set any speed records, but fable-like, I’ll be the slow and steady tortoise that wins the race, tottering over the finish line into the promised land of success late in life — but very, very happy.

As Steve Jobs says,

“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.”

Feel it. Dream it. Read about it Heartfelt Stories.

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