Achieving success is going to take you longer than you think it is.
Despite what you’ve heard from experts that want you to believe that if you follow a series of proven steps success is an easy outcome — nothing could be further from the truth.
And that’s absolutely not because you’re not dedicated or driven. It’s not because you’re lacking something or don’t care about achieving success.
Even if you are doing your best, the time it takes to do big things has little to do with you. It has everything to do with life. And reality.
And the hard truth about achieving legendary success is that it takes time. More time than you can ever imagine or want to know right now.
- It takes time to learn.
- It takes time to improve.
- It takes time for you to figure out exactly what you want.
- It takes time to do what it takes to get there.
Which is why you need to be prepared for that time.
You have to be ready to go to the extra distance.
I first realized that I wanted to try ultra-running in 2012. I had done some moderate distances like half marathons and I wanted to see if I could push of that.
Soon, I signed up for my first 50k, and then a 55K right behind it; I was surprised at my ability to get across the finish line at the front of the pack.
Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t running against elite athletes. I was testing myself against people who were running because they loved it.
I thought I special because I wasn’t at the back of the pack. For most everyone else there, being outside was enough. That was the real contest — enjoying the experience.
So I pushed a bit further.
My 100-miler was in Arkansas. It took me more than 19 hours of running to finish that race. I didn’t know how to “run”. I just knew that I probably shouldn’t stop moving. And so I did that — all the way to a 4th place finish.
But then, just when I was thought I was getting good at this “ultra-running thing”, I noticed something pretty alarming. In the more competitive races, I wasn’t coming out on top. I was finishing 4th or 3rd, sometimes 2nd place, and a bunch of top 10s. But winning — that wasn’t happening.
So, I hired a coach. Then a second one. Then a third.
I read books about running. I changed my diet. I lost weight and changed up my schedule. I started running hills and laps around a high school race track.
And none of it seemed to be really working. Day-to-day, I was still the same runner that started shuffling about in 2012.
Looking back I can see that something began to happen over the months of my focused training. That consistent effort turned into something meaningful — something that you could spot as improvement year over a year.
My body began to get stronger. I begin to realize the impact of different foods on my performance. I began to realize the warning signs of dehydration and lack of calories. The things that used to stop me cold didn’t stop me anymore.
And, it only took me 17,000 miles and more than 2,500 days of trying to figure it out.
I thought it might take me 25 days at first. Maybe 250. But 10 times that amount? I would have called you a liar had you told me that up front. I would have told you that I’m special. That I work harder than most people. That for me, it’s going to be a faster process.
But it wasn’t. And it won’t be for you.
Because greatness takes time. Progress of any sort takes time. So be ready to learn. Be prepared to be resilient. Develop your “get back up” muscles. Build your “rainy years” fund.
You’re going to make it. Let’s just be realistic about how long it’s going to take you.
So what can you do? What should you do? Here are a few suggestions for navigating the long journey to the finish line:
- Save way more money than you think is necessary. The number one reason why people give up on their dreams is that they run out of money and can’t afford to keep going.
- Develop friendships with people who’ve been there before. Don’t copy them. But it is smart to get their advice from time to time.
- Cultivate endless curiousness. Make reading books and learning new things your top priority. You’ll move faster if you know what you didn’t know.
- Don’t lie to yourself about failure. It makes no sense to cover up a mistake. Shorten the gap between when you learn and when you start to adapt.
- Be clear about what you really want. Surround yourself with pictures of your goal. Share your vision with as many people as possible. Put yourself in a position where you can only go forward.
- Get some sleep. There’s always another task to do. That fire that you’re putting out is going to restart itself again earlier than you expect. It makes no sense to burn out physically.
- Get hooked on exercise. Whether it’s squats, a boot camp, cycling, swimming, or just kicking a heavy bag — working up a sweat helps you handle stress and focus is your mind on what really matters.
- Make time on your schedule to do nothing. Your biggest breakthroughs will always come after a moment of quietness. That’s what your brain needs to work. So feed it what it wants.
You have probably heard the saying many times that: “Success is a marathon, not a sprint. “
That’s true, but here’s another truth you might not have considered — you don’t know what mile you’re on. Your journey doesn’t come with mile markers.
The most frustrating part about success is that you can’t predict exactly when you’re going to experience breakthrough.
You might be on mile 25 right now. Or mile 3.5. Either way, your mission is still the same, to keep moving forward.
Just don’t expect it to be easy. Don’t expect it to be fast. Don’t set your heart on unrealistic expectations for success.
- Be tough enough to realize that you’ll make it.
- Be smart enough to know that you’ll figure it out.
- Be determined enough to fight through every obstacle that stands in front of you.
I have every expectation that you’re going to get to exactly where you want to be. I believe in you.
Now you believe in you. No matter how bumpy the path ahead might be.