I receive emails and Facebook messages weekly from people looking to improve their life asking for just a few tips on how to complete their lofty ambitions. The goal is usually a big one, and the question implies that if the person can just take a few steps over a short term, the goal will happen. Can I help them?

I do offer insights and resources, but here’s my issue with this thinking: Success is a process, and while a few steps in the short term add value, the real progress happens when you combine a series of small steps, often many steps outside your comfort zone, with an extended period of time. Yes, then you can experience success and gain some level of mastery.

All the masters know that success and achieving meaningful results is a process and takes time.

Mastery requires consistency and practice.
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And masters start as beginners. It is not overnight! We need to condition our mind to understand this is a process. The question is: How much time are you willing to invest, and do you have the determination, drive, focus, and staying power to stay the course? Anyone can get up at 5:00 a.m. to workout for a week, not eat sugar for two weeks, or visit clients for a month. But can you commit to talking to clients throughout the years to have the best customer service in the industry? That takes time and is more than a one-month project.

The media and society create the illusion that success or achieving what you want is a quick process with no obstacles. We see newly-crowned entrepreneurs, musicians, sports figures, CEOs, and tech whizzes pictured on the cover of Forbes, People, TIME, Sports Illustrated, and Fortune Magazine, but rarely is it emphasized that they worked on their project for years and countless hours. We see a business getting sold for a ridiculous amount of money (see Instagram and Tumblr).

More often than not, achieving a valued outcome is because of continuous effort, hard work, overcoming past failures, and the ability to think without obstacles and be resilient.

And by the way, David Karp, the founder of Tumblr, began learning HTML at age eleven and was designing websites for local businesses for years on his way to mastery.

If you want success, you need to first define what success means to you. This will vary for each of us depending on our values, age, and area of our life (relationships, health, finances, and career).

Success can’t be done for you.

Achieving your dreams doesn’t happen after a few quick steps.

There’s no seven-day formula either (sorry to break the news).

– If you want to be a better interviewer, then practice answering questions 100 times. 

– If you want to be a better public speaker, practice a two-minute speech in front of the mirror 100 times.

– If you want to improve your serve in tennis, serve a bucket of balls three times a week for twenty minutes for the year.

Are you willing to do these steps? I guarantee you will improve!

Overnight success is about effort, consistency, and focus. There is no quick way to become a master. The good news is it CAN be done.

Here are a few highlights for what the real process of overnight success looks like:

– You have an idea (maybe you want to start a business, run for congress, improve your speaking skills, complete a marathon, or improve your golf game).

– It’s hard for others to see your vision, and they think it sounds crazy.

– You start working on your idea, but the results are not coming as quickly as you had expected.

– You have self-doubt and contemplate quitting your project or taking up a different hobby because the process is harder than you thought.

– You have a small win, see a glimmer of hope, and start to think it’s possible (maybe I can improve my golf game or start this new website).

– You encounter a few obstacles and experience failure. Each time your passion and determination help you move forward and resolve any challenges.

– You invest a substantial amount of time and effort to get your idea/product/skill/website launched and ready for the world.

– People gradually start to see the possibilities you saw from day one.

– Repeat over and over.

The conversation around success needs to shift away from the short-term, profits-only focus and first-place finishes to significance, pursuing heartfelt goals, effort, and living in YOUR top 1% (as opposed to the THE top 1%). When we only see pictures of entrepreneurs who just sold their business and sports stars holding a trophy, it’s easy to forget how hard the person (and their team) worked over the years to make this top 1% moment a reality. We get conditioned to think that success is easy and an overnight process.

Yes, success is possible. We just need to condition our mind and teach our kids that the path for success looks much different than the media often leads us to believe.

Alissa Finerman is a Professional Business/Life Coach, motivational speaker, and author of Living in Your Top 1%. She works with individuals and organizations to help them think bigger, redefine what’s possible, and get results. Alissa has an MBA from the Wharton School and a BA from the University of California, Berkeley. She has appeared on national radio stations such as CBS and Clear Channel Radio and has worked with the Milken Institute, LA Business Journal, Prostate Cancer Foundation, and NBC Universal. To learn more about coaching with Alissa, please visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.