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.]