I like driving by our old apartment every now and again. It’s a good reminder to me of the long, winding road Kim and I have traveled and the ridiculous faithfulness of God.
It’s funny how once you achieve a certain level of success, in retrospect, the road you took to get there never seems as bumpy.
Nowhere is this more evident than in having kids, by the way. The first month with a newborn is rough stuff. No one in their right mind would subject themselves to that again after having just gone through it. But given enough time, the tortuous sleep depravity and foul, sloppy diapers don’t seem nearly as formidable. Eventually, having another kid seems like a fine idea.
But I digress. (And no, this in no way should be construed as any sort of “announcement.”)
Back to the apartment.
We lived in that apartment for over eight years. While friends, family, and peers upgraded to bigger and better homes in the suburbs, started families, and enjoyed the finer things in life, we stuck it out in the apartment. We outlasted several management companies, and even though great promises were made when we signed our lease, the cracked and weed-ridden tennis court never was restored. While we’re pretty certain some people close to us figured we’d be there forever, we always saw it as an investment.
Putting up with the rust and grime that took over the shower? An investment.
The pounding death metal music that started up at 2 a.m.? An investment.
Years of sticky summer days with no air conditioning? An investment.
Coexisting with the losers up to no good on the corner? An investment.
The dents our car’s hood endured from the kids who thought it would be a good place to play? Yep, an investment.
We knew that the longer we stayed in that cheap apartment, the more time we’d be able to buy toward building our business and our future. It took WAY longer than we’d hoped to figure things out and make a real living at this. It was hard. Heart-wrenching. Scary. Discouraging. Frustrating. But our story isn’t much different than anyone else who has seen dreams come true (especially the “WAY longer” part).
If you’re not where you want to be in life, you need to be actively investing in getting there.
Sometimes that means money. Sometimes it means sacrifice. Practice. Doing the grunt work. Putting in your time.
Everyone is in search of some magic bullet, a secret formula that makes success easy and guaranteed. Lots of people make lots of money selling this false hope (especially on the Internet!).
Newsflash: There isn’t one. There just isn’t.
It takes a great number of years to create an “overnight success.”
We are often led to believe — by television, movies, tabloids — that success comes upon us one day like a fairy godmother waving her wand and washing our lives with pixie dust. And so we wait and we wish for that magic moment to arrive: If only we had enough money to get started. If only Seth Godin would write about us. If only we could get on Oprah.
To accomplish any dream, you WILL need help along the way. But you have to do a hell of a lot of investing in order to make that “big break” produce fruit.
But realizing that some flying fat lady with a wand isn’t going to swoop in and grant you success is actually good news. Instead of waiting for the stars to align and the time to be right, you can get busy investing.
The timing is never just right. The conditions are never perfect. The starting is never easy.
Get over it.
Now go. Do something amazing.
[This article was originally published over at Dumb Little Man. There are some great insights to be found in the comments over there as well.]
“If only we could get on Oprah”. Oh, that brings back memories; I guess I’ve been here from the get-go! It turns out you didn’t need her :) You’re right where you’re meant to be, and yes, it took hard work, but you get that that’s what it takes, stuck with it and made it. Congrats! ( I suggested to my elder son that he and wife are leading the good life, to which he replied, “Mom. We work 12 hours a day.” So they play hard, but they work hard. They get it too.)
Yes, I remember our “get on Oprah” campaign. Thanks for reminding me:) I’m just glad that we had a Plan B, and that we have demonstrated an ability to accumulate some wisdom along the way. (probably not as much as we should have, but still.)
Thanks for sharing all that you’ve been through in this post. We live in a world where keeping up with the Joneses is part of a lot of people’s philosophy. I realize a few years ago during the “good times” I might have been able to swing a loan for a house…after all, I was told by countless people that they’re giving out loans to anyone who has a job. Well I may have had a job, but I never had that cushion in case I lost my job or whatever emergency came up. Looking back, one of my greatest decisions was NOT to buy a house just because I could.
I know you and Kim have also taken the road less traveled on your way to success…and it was due to loads of hard work and keeping your dreams alive during the lean times. I commend the both of you and I can identify with some of your challenges.
I commend YOU for saying “no” even though the so-called “experts” wanted you to say yes. Creating our ideal lifestyle is often more likely achieved by what we say no to rather than what we say yes to.
Kristie Ryan says
I’m actually doing some investing right now , along with my boyfriend. We’re working on my Total Money Makeover, a book written by Dave Ramsey on how to get out of debt. I’m making sacrifices now to get out of debt so that in the future I (and we) will have the freedom to do what we want with our life.
Whether it’s changing our careers or traveling we’ll have the ability to do whatever we desire. In the meantime we are trying to work hard to establish our goals and work towards them. Sometimes it feels like I haven’t done enough (especially of my personal projects), but at least I like to think at least I’m working on SOMETHING!
So happy for you and Kim. You have such a great thing going on and I’m glad it’s paying off after all the hard work :)
Thanks, Kristie. In the day-to-day, those baby steps don’t seem like they’re adding up to much, but after a while, you won’t believe how far you’ve come! Kudos to you and your boyfriend for undergoing the Total Money Makeover; a little discipline now will reward you handsomely later!
Oh boy. It’s like I so needed to read this today.
See, I just “discovered” this place some days ago. You guys just struck a big chord with me – specially Jason since he’s like everything I want to become someday: An independent, profitable cartoonist, a lover, a father and above all, someone who refuses to be trapped by adulthood. Success, the way I see it, is not just about money but about your heart and soul .
So here I am realizing that after 15 years working with computers and programming I chose the wrong path. Scary thought. I majored in graphic design but bought into the “starving artist” BS. I switched to a new workplace closer to home sometime ago just to realize I’m tired of pretending to be someone I’m not. It’s so crystal clear for me what to do now but also daunting at the same time. I still owe some debt and I don’t have enough of a financial cushion to ditch this job yet, as much as I’d like to. However reading this is making me think of my current situation as an “investment”, and the time I’m saving on commutes now (the main reason why I switched jobs), I’m “investing” it to draw and paint as much as I can, in hopes to turn my true passion into profit rather soon.
Sometimes I get desperate because everything seems to move at a glacial pace, but such is real life I guess – you’re right, the “overnight success” stories are just made up myths. I’ll just need heaps of patience and encouragement along the way. Felt like sharing this with you, thanks. :)
First of all, thanks so much for the wonderful compliments. I am always thrilled to hear when a post strikes a chord, whether it’s in the form of entertainment, inspiration, or encouragement.
Although it may be scary to consider that you chose the wrong path after 15 years, it would be much worse if it were 35 years, right? Besides, I have a feeling that you’ve learned a lot in the past fifteen years, not only about computers but about yourself as well. That experience is crucial when it comes to adding depth to your art and for providing the wisdom, focus and determination required to really turn a passion into a profit.
I have to chuckle as the comment about things moving at a “glacial pace.” That’s a metaphor I can really relate to. There were so many times — even today sometimes — where I felt things were moving so slowly and there just never seemed any way for me to make it speed up. It often felt like we would take one step forward and two steps back. Although it may not seem like it, taking one step each day toward your dream does add up. Looking back now, after ten years of doing this, I am amazed at how far we’ve come. It’s crazy. But there weren’t really any big momentous “breaks” along the way, just a series of small steps and little victories that add up over time.
Sounds like you’re being pretty smart with your current “investments.” Good luck to you.