Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law. – Douglas Hofstader
People often ask what they’re doing wrong when they’re not getting the results they want. They usually haven’t considered that it’s not their work that they’re doing wrong, but rather the goals they’ve set that’s the problem.
Do you ever get frustrated about coming back to the ground after you jump? Probably not – we have a deep understanding of gravity and know we’ll come back down before we jump.
So many people try new things and don’t understand the gravity of the dimension they’re in.
Changing a habit that you’ve unconsciously cultivated for the last few decades is hard. Your brain is hardwired to repeat the same pathways – whether it’s an action or belief – until new pathways are formed. There’s gravity and inertia behind a stimulus triggering a certain response.
Launching a new offer to a small audience is unlikely to make you 6 figures. There’s a lot you can do to get better results – and it’s always possible – but the gravity of economics and business are always there.
New leaders and managers join an organization and expect to make a quick change. Sorry, there’s gravity there, too. Real change takes a while.
If you’re wondering what you’re doing wrong, perhaps it’s time to take a look at the results you expect. Perhaps what’s missing is clearer and more realistic goals and the patience to let your work bear fruit. Quite often, the missing ingredient is time.
Two questions to ponder:
- If it took you four times as long to get the results you expect, would you still want to continue what you’re doing?
- What good results are happening that you’re discounting? They’re always there, but, like the air, we’ve learned to look through them and instead focus on other things.
Susan Falcone says
Yes! I’ve learned to expect the wait having launched several projects. But, I admit, there’s still disappointment in the beginning when things start off slow. I just don’t let it get to me anymore because I know with time things will blossom. Thanks for the reminder.
Ruben Berenguel @mostlymaths.net says
Patinece is a virtue people don’t value anymore. The trend is on “how to do X in 21 days”, or “how to learn Y in 24 hours” (or 3 months). Which is impossible. There is almost nothing you can learn in any fixed amount of time: everything worthwhile takes a lifetime to master.
Extreme John says
Excellent, excellent article. I typically try to tell people that are first getting in to business to understand clearly that the reality of overnight success is non-existent. Forget about it and continue to work towards your goal and be willing to commit for a VERY long time if you intend to see any results.
Al Pittampalli says
Success can take time, it’s a frustrating but real truth. Your post reminds me of an Edison quote, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Thanks for the reminder, Charlie.
Tito Philips, Jnr. says
Thanks for this one Charlie, I have always believed that success is not a sprint race but rather a marathon. It takes a while for our seeds to blossom into fruits and this is the reality of life.
I don’t expect too much at first since I know success is more about building and sustaining momentum than anything else.
Your final questions are what I try to keep in mind, always asking myself; how long would I hang on till success comes? And what little success am I achieving while I wait for the big break?
Thanks once again for this. It did resonate deeply with me.
Claudia Hall Christian says
I struggle in the middle of the middle mostly because I feel stupid for investing so much time in something (writing) that ‘gives so little.’ Crazy because I enjoy every aspect of it so much. Then I ‘wake up’ and see I’m still financially struggling.
I don’t know if there’s a remedy for that. I think that’s why patience is said to be a virtue.
Stacey Hylen says
Thanks Charlie for a great reminder. We are in a “I want it yesterday culture” and as business owners we have big goals and high expectations sometimes it is hard to be patient. I have found that sometimes my biggest “Failures” have led me to even bigger things. http://businessoptimizercoach.com/leadstory/is-a-failure-always-a-failure/
Daniel M. Wood says
Sometimes you can make a quick change sometimes you cannot.
It depends on what you want to change. Habits take time to break; If you want to change your inner dialogue it will take time, if you want to change peoples work ethics it takes time.
The important thing is that you let it take time but still rush it. Make sure you keep moving forward towards your goal.
Your infinite wisdom has perfect timing Charlie.
This is so true yet so difficult to embrace when you’re so excited to make things happen. Thank you for the reminder.
I have to admit, if you told me BEFORE I started blogging that it would take me 2 years to get to this point, I’d probably be a bit hesitant to start. At the same time, now that I’ve put in the work, I feel a greater dedication to my site.
Some people get discouraged when they focus on how far they still need to get, but we also need to balance that perspective with how far we’ve ALREADY gone.
But you’re ultimately right – we need to be aware that most significant changes take work and time. The myth of overnight success is alluring, but de-motivating when we realize it isn’t actually true.
Archan Mehta says
Even virtuoso performers understand the value of practice.
In that context, there is no such thing as “success” and “failure.” You’ve got to get into the groove; remain engaged with the process; and align your mind, body and spirit.
There is no instant miracle, unless you win the lotto or get lucky and inherit a fortune. The rest of us just have to slog and wait with patience. You get results over time; it takes time.
So, you have to give yourself time. You cannot jump from nursery school and hope to earn a PhD from Harvard at the age of 4. It takes years of disciple to reach such a goal.
Sure, you will get there, eventually, but don’t kid yourself: just keep plugging away at whatever it is you do. The only guarantee is that there are no guarantees in life. Cheerio.
Anne Emberline says
Now that I think about this, I think my most enjoyable projects have been ones where I went in expecting a lengthy process.
When you know it’ll take a long time, you can appreciate the small accomplishments, the little victories in each baby step. But when you’re expecting overnight success, it makes everything else you do a failure in comparison to that huge expectation.
It’s all about the attitude!
Scott @ PSI Seminars says
While I believe that the possibilities for my future are infinite, I don’t believe that EVERY possibility for my future is possible. A future that violates universal law simply isn’t possible. Actions have consequences, and it doesn’t make a you a “victim” to recognize that.
You’re not going to wake up tomorrow morning 100 lbs. lighter or with an extra $10,000 in the bank. But you can wake up tomorrow morning and start having every single thought and action from that point forward focused on getting you there as quickly as possible. How long it will take, though, is outside of your control… it will take how long it takes.
Adela Rubio says
It ‘takes time’ to achieve mastery, no doubt. But I don’t know if time is the only element to be considered. Level of engagement also impacts results. It can certainly accelerate the learning curve. You need a big enough WHY to propel you into this deeper playground. The shift from outer to inner fuel then creates not only a sustainable, but a stellar, adventure.
The secret sauce is a really BIG vision that propels you from the inside out. Those bigger visions are brought into being through collaboration. The ‘result’ is a by product of your contribution to a deeper and bigger cause.