How long would you give yourself to be successful?

I saw this question posted on the Wealthy Affiliate blog a while back and wanted to write an article about success and timing.

What is success?

I started thinking about what would constitute “success” in my eyes. Would it be making a lot of money? Is it being respected as being at the top of my field? Is it learning something new? I like to do all of those things. What about when you build something that is amazingly fulfilling but has no commercial success? (I have done a lot of those.) Is that a success or a failure? Did it prepare you for the next creative effort that might ultimately be a success?

When I was creating entertainment productions, I got better the more and more I did it. Now when I look back, I realize what a train wreck my earlier efforts actually were, and how much I have improved. I needed those train wrecks to learn what audiences wanted to see and how to motivate crowds of spectators.

My first software app crashed on the first day and was a considerable embarrassment. I look back at the user interface and ask myself what I was thinking. Now, I have a much better handle on software development and processes I would never have had if my first app wasn't an unmitigated disaster.

Success is personal. It is what you believe. It is the first step you take in physical therapy after an accident; it is learning how to conjugate a verb in a different language for the first time, or taking the leap to do something new.

Why the time limit?

Also, why the time limit? I know that time is your most valuable resource, and everyone's time decreases each day, but we don't know exactly how much time we have.

From the examples above, if you wanted to walk again, would you quit after one day? Two days? If you want to do something, the time it takes should not matter at all. You want to do it. Adding a time limit just adds a layer of stress and pressure on yourself that is completely manufactured.

If you want to start your own business and it is not making money yet, work a side job (or a full-time job) until your own business gets off of the ground. If you want to be your own boss, be your own boss. You are already your own boss in the enterprise of you – expand a bit into different enterprises.

The Psychology of “Get Rich Quick Schemes”

Why ask the question: “How Long would you give yourself to be successful?”? I read through a lot of the comments and saw that “success” was primarily equated with earning a lot of money quickly. There was a bill due or some other necessity for making money quickly, and that was the reason for the time limit. This business endeavor needs to produce money speedily, or it is not worth doing.

Preying on this mentality is the basis of all “get-rich-quick” schemes, from buying the hot stock tip to the latest “make-money-for-doing-nothing” business. It is not sexy when someone says that it took 20 years of working 16 hours a day, losing money, and taking tremendous risks all along the way to make your first million. It takes a lot of grit and mental toughness to keep plugging away when everyone is telling you that you are going to fail.

It is human nature to want a shortcut, whether it be making money, losing weight, or learning a new skill. Resist that temptation. Success doesn't happen overnight. Take a look at the lottery. If you win, you can make millions overnight, but the odds are astronomical against you winning. Look at who plays the lottery. Are they successful? Does Warren Buffett buy lottery tickets?

I touched on the psychology behind “get rich quick schemes” in my article “Run away from people marketing with Porsches“. Part of marketing is creating an image of what product “X” can do for you and creating that connection of success to the product being marketed. What you are trying to do is to create a very strong “IF – THEN” logic chain in the prospect's mind.

Here are some examples:

IF you borrow $200,000 for a college degree, THEN you will get a great job.

Nope. We can see the college and university marketing departments working overtime on that one. There are a lot of people with undergraduate, masters, and doctoral degrees that don't even work in their fields and cannot repay the debt they have taken on for their education.

IF you wear this type of shoe, THEN you can be an NBA star.

An incredible stretch, but shoe marketing companies have been able to sell this to the public. They have even made it go further into the belief that you can also emulate the NBA star's lifestyle by buying other things (like headphones, cars, fashion). It becomes the basis of what I call a “lifestyle fantasy” that enables you to sell virtually anything to the prospect. (The premise of the “influencer” concept.)

IF you buy this course, THEN you will make millions.

You see these all of the time. The commercials usually contain a private plane, Lamborghini, or a giant mansion in the background. Using luxury items in ads is done to subconsciously create that IF – THEN connection. IF you purchase this “buy real estate with no money down” course, THEN you will be successful (by getting the plane, Lamborghini, and mansion). Oh, there are typically a lot of bikini models in the commercials as well, so you get them too.

When you think about it, all of these marketing ploys are fake.

BUT they WORK.

Ignore the marketing – what is reality?

Ignore the marketing aimed at separating you from your money. Look for the actual value.

What education do you need for what you want to do? Is there a paid internship? I have found that I learn faster when I am dropped into the fire and have to produce. I've also found that what you one in their profession is not necessarily what they learned in school.

What about the $300 tennis shoes? Do they make you jump higher? Are you in a profession that you need to jump higher? Do they last longer than the 1-year that athletic shoes typically last? Is the price justified, or is it a marketing ploy?

The last example, the value of a “no money down” real estate business course, is most applicable in our instance, in that we evaluate the tools and business models on Levered Income.

What are they selling?

They are selling a “shortcut” of dubious value. Ask yourself if you know what you are doing.

How much do you know about real estate? (Probably nothing, if you are interested in the advertisement.)

Are there any free sources of information? (Yes – all over the internet. See articles on this website about real estate crowdfunding, REITs, and making money with rental property.)

What skills are you bringing to the table? (If you're bringing limited or no skills, why would a property owner finance your purchase of their building, or why would a lender lend you money for 100% of the purchase?)

Part of being resistant to these types of pitches is knowing yourself.

So, how long would you give yourself to be successful?

I don't like this question, and I think it ventures down the path of a poor mindset. You are applying several levers against yourself, and it will lead to frustration, self-doubt, and failure. Time will always work against you, and you will still perceive people that are “more successful” than you are (even if that perception is not accurate).

If you need money now, the quickest and safest way to achieve this goal is to get a job that pays you a salary or hourly. That has nothing to do with success. You just need money now. Get it.

I try to be successful every day. I try to learn something new each day focused on the direction I want to go and what I want to do.

  • Did I get a new perspective on something from my wife during morning coffee?
  • Was I able to learn something new while coding a new website?
  • Did I learn a different way to analyze a stock investment?
  • Did I find a quicker way to break down the profitability of a direct real estate investment?
  • Was I able to implement what I learned or use any of the new perspectives gained?
  • Did I help anyone today?

As I said earlier, the definition of “success” is a personal thing. It can be money, free time, health, relationships, family, saving an animal in need – virtually anything you can imagine.

That definition changes over time, depending on a person's needs or wants, self-understanding, and maturity. A successful day for one person might be making $1,000 using a new trading algorithm, or for another person, it could be rescuing a cat.

“Success” is rooted in an understanding of self. I learn something new about myself every day and try to be a little better every day.

If I had to answer the question of “how long would you give yourself to be successful“, I would say my entire life.