“To know how to wait is the great secret of success.”
– Joseph DeMaistre
A watched pot never boils.
That’s an easy lesson to learn when you’re doing something with a clear finish line. On a run, the less you check your progress — and the more you allow yourself to get distracted by the process of running — the easier it is to go long distances.
(This is why audiobooks make great running aids)
We go further when we measure less.
Unfortunately, technology and its toys have acquainted us with an entirely unrealistic sense of progress and satisfaction. Just pick up your phone, scroll a bit, and have a good laugh. Your next dopamine hit is never far off.
But there’s a reason you’re going to live for decades.
Because that’s the time it takes to do the meaningful stuff.
A lifetime — not a few weeks, a month, or even years.
As one article title from Inc. illustrates (Why Successful People Take 10 Years to ‘Succeed Overnight’), the success we see others achieve and the success we crave isn’t just around the corner. It’s often at least a decade away.
Measuring progress in days, weeks, or months is much like watching a pot boil. It starts to feel like nothing is ever going to happen.
So here are some tips for recalibrating how you measure your own progress…
Think in Decades — Use a longer measuring stick. Don’t think about what could happen if you keep striving for the next few months… think about what could happen if you keep striving for the next decade. Imagine if, for the next 10 years, you consistently worked on the thing you care about. And then ask yourself if you care enough about it to do that. If you do, success suddenly becomes inevitable.
Jog, Don’t Sprint — You can’t sprint at full speed when you’re running a marathon. You’ve got to find a sustainable pace. What are the key things you need to keep doing to move forward? Find your pace and keep doing those things.
Find Your Passion — If you’re going to do something for years or decades with meager meaningful results, you’ve got to care about what you’re doing. This is a good litmus test for if you’re doing something you’re passionate about (which is key). Are you willing to do it for the next few years or or even decades to get it where you want it to be?