Have you ever been impatient because you aren’t seeing the success you want to see?
That’s the feeling I felt when I started a website. I thought with a bit of basic social media knowledge, a product and a simple cart, I could start making money.
Of course, things weren’t that simple. I only made one sale because of my supportive ex-girlfriend and that was it.
I knew it wasn’t going to be so simple, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t frustrated. I wanted change to come quickly because I really wanted to see change happen. I wanted to see that I was close to making my dreams come true.
It was discouraging to see the lack of progress and to be honest, I actually gave up. Change wasn’t coming fast enough and I was frustrated. Looking back on it now, I actually regret doing that.
Any worthwhile change never happens immediately. Change is the result of small actions that contribute to a result over time. Just because you don’t see anything happen doesn’t mean that nothing is happening.
Once you realize change doesn’t happen overnight, you are actually able to make a positive change faster.
Overnight Successes Are Myths
I have a confession to make: I tell myself that there are no such things as overnight successes, but I always dream of being one.
That’s the attitude I had when I started my public speaking website. While I subconsciously knew that my website wasn’t going to be popular overnight, I had delusions of grandeur that the website was going to be an overnight success.
I was sharply brought back to earth within a week when I realized that nothing was happening and that I needed more than a website for people to find it.
I wondered what I was doing wrong, but then I started reading some business books and the same recurring theme popped up. Almost no company became a success overnight.
The same was said in a juggling book that I bought. Just owning the book wasn’t going to make me better. I had to put in years of work to make even the simplest tricks look effortless.
It took four years, but I finally understood the message. If I was going to make any serious change, it wasn’t going to happen overnight. The sooner I abandoned the overnight success myth, the sooner I was ready to actually make a change.
Understand That Change Is A Long Term Process
How long does it take for change to happen?
Honestly, there’s no clear answer.
It really depends on what you are trying to change and the results that you want to see. There may be more that needs to change than you initially thought!
For example, I want to be a speaking coach that not only gives amazing presentations but also helps other people reach their desired speaking potential.
In 2013, I thought I could this by experimenting with different speaking techniques and making a website. I thought that would be enough change.
It turns out that I needed more change and time than I initially planned for.
I had less speaking experience than I thought, so my skills degraded. I had to learn, refine and practice my skills again. I had to open my mind and get past my arrogance that I knew everything. I had to learn how to actually make a decent website.
When I realized how much I had to change, I felt silly. But I also felt determined to get started and actually start the process of change.
It’s been four years since then and I’m not done yet. My change is an ongoing process.
Of course, this isn’t going to be the same for everyone. Goals are different, with different objectives and timelines.
What I do know is that change is going to take some time. Depending on what needs to be changed, it could take days or weeks, maybe months or years. But it won’t happen now or really soon. It will take some time.
Just Because You Don’t See Change Doesn’t Mean It’s Not Happening
I’m a sucker for instant gratitude. I love seeing success happen quickly.
That leads to my frustration when I try something new and nothing happens. I write articles differently, but people still don’t see them. I use a few new jokes but the audience still doesn’t laugh. I make a few changes on the website but no one is visiting.
The lack of visible progress led to me giving up a fair number of times. I would always tell myself that I would get it right later, but deep down I knew I was giving up and wouldn’t try again for a while.
But just because I wasn’t seeing anything didn’t mean nothing was changing.
Every article I wrote helped me get used to putting my writing in front of audiences. Every joke I tried would later help me refine future jokes. Every change on a website taught me a little bit more about website design.
It might not have been the big change that I was looking for, but it was only a few years later did I realize how valuable those small changes were.
My abilities grew as well as my confidence. I wouldn’t be nervous and feeling like I knew nothing. I knew a little bit more and that would always spur me on to learn something new.
I would only realize that after I tried again and realized that writing more articles didn’t intimidate me. Telling failed jokes let me know what would fail in advance. I knew how to make website designs happen.
Did I see the change I wanted? Not yet. Did something happen? Yes, it did.
Change happened because I did something, and it was still there even when I didn’t see it. That small change would eventually become the foundation for the big change that I wanted to see. All I needed to do was keep going.
Don’t Stop And Don’t Give Up
One of the most important ingredients for change is momentum.
I realized that the hard way three years after I started my website, almost nothing had changed. My skills hadn’t gotten better and my website was still a mess.
While I won’t necessarily say that I wasted all my time, I know that if I put some of that time towards the change I wanted to see, I might have made more progress. Instead, I gave up because I didn’t see change happen right away.
If I could dispel the overnight myth from my head entirely, if I knew change was going to be a long process and if I knew change really was happening, I might be more successful.
Thankfully, I’m not going to let invisible change stop me from making the change I want to see.
Now I know it’s okay if change doesn’t happen right away. Every step I take now is a step closer to making the change I want to see become a reality.
That’s enough to keep me motivated and enough to not give up again.
Victor Tan writes to helps people overcome their weaknesses to be a better public speaker. He does this by helping people with self-improvement and teaching them proper speaking techniques. You can find him at his website, Spirit On Stage, Facebook and Twitter.
Image courtesy of Lindsay Henwood.April 23, 2017