One Big Mistake a Whole Lot of People Make

by Henrik Edberg

This mistake is one I have made many times (and sometimes still do).

It’s also a mistake I’ve seen a whole lot of others do a lot.

What’s the mistake?

Basically, misjudging how long time it will take to get the desired results.

This problem is actually two problems. Either you underestimate the time it will take to lose that weight, earn that money or find that audience for your blog. And then quit too early.

Or you may overestimate how much time it will take to get the results you desire. So you feel overwhelmed as you look at – what in your mind – looks like years of work. And never get started.

It’s obvious that people would have more success if they just got started. But I also think that if people kept going for a little while longer they would have a lot more success. I think that one of the biggest reasons people don´t achieve their goals is because they underestimate the time it will take to get there. And give up before the visible, uplifting results really start coming in.

Society, TV and advertising tells us that there is an almost instant solution to any of our problems. You can easily lose 30 pounds within a month. Or with little work and time invested have another extra 20 000 dollars in the bank.

But I think there is also an idea that if you haven’t succeeded pretty quickly then you might as well give up and do something else. But the most successful people have a different definition of failure. One that serves them better. They have an abundance-mentality. They know that if their first business-venture fails it feels like crap for a while but it’s ok in the long run. They learn from it and then they try again.

If they are rejected for date, do they give up? Probably not. They know that next week or the week after they might find someone else that’s interesting and ask them out.

They know that there are a lot of good people out there. That there are a lot of good business opportunities out there. But they have also learned that to become successful at anything you have to fail perhaps 5, 10, 20 times or more. You have to keep going.

A solution to early quitting time

It´s hard to know how much time something will take before you have accomplished it. But I still think that you can guesstimate pretty well. You can read about how long time things took for other people that are were you want to be. You may not be able to directly apply their life and path to success to yours. But there are often good insights to take away.

And that has been my solution to the problems of quitting too early or being afraid/unsure of even getting started. What has worked is to educate myself.

When I for instance started blogging I read a lot from the archives of Problogger.net. Over a few weeks I read about what you should do as a beginner. What common mistakes people did and you should try to avoid. I also read about how long it took for a blog to become reasonably popular. This is not something that’s easy to calculate, since blogs and the people creating them differ a lot (and definitions of popularity may vary).

But from reading Problogger and other sources about blogging and entrepreneurship in general I got a rough picture of the path to success. I learned that the first 6-12 months were often just a starting phase where things may sometimes appear to almost be at a standstill. I learned that real success and popularity might not come before something like 12-18 months had passed.

This is, of course, still a rough estimate but educating myself in this way helped me adjust my image of how things would happen into a more realistic one. This also makes it easier to handle the possible slump in motivation and interest that can hit after the initial enthusiasm has evaporated.

You may find accounts from others on blogs and websites, in forums or on mailing-lists, in books or magazines or in documentaries. I think that we today – with all the resources easily available online – have a pretty good chance of finding others that have been in a similar situation that we are facing.

Readjusting and reinforcing to less instant gratification

By educating yourself about how things work, by reading accounts of others that have been there you can counter-program some of the social programming that tells us that we should and will have the success we desire with our weight loss, finances or blogs before this or the next month is up.

If you learn and adjust the image to a more realistic one you won’t feel the same need to give up before you have even started to explore the real potential of your endeavour. Expectations will become less unreasonable (which sometimes means that we discover that things are easier and less time-consuming than we imagine/fear). It will be easier to keep yourself motivated along the way.

And simply by keeping on reading about people who are where you want to be you can not only find inspiration in your day to day life. You can also, with the added help of your experiences, reinforce and refine the new image – one with less need for instant gratification – of your world.

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{ 9 comments }

Shirley September 15, 2007 at 12:03 am

I think your point about giving up too early is a very good one. I know it’s happened to me before, and after I’ve quit, I think “I should have stuck it out a little longer, I bet I could have done it.”

Thanks for reminding us to research and be realistic in our goals. TV and magazines make things look so easy, but real life is full of little setbacks. However long you think it will take, add twice that. If you still don’t have the results you want by then, re-evaluate.

Van Savell September 15, 2007 at 3:34 pm

Good word! Certainly fits the Biblical admonition, “And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.” (Galatians 6:9)

Bob September 16, 2007 at 9:53 pm

Hello there! I am inviting members of Priscilla Palmer’s Personal Development List to participate in a blog series based on the Desiderata. I hope you’ll consider participating. Here is a link describing the project: Help Wanted: Desiderata Series. Thank you and have a great day.

Helen September 18, 2007 at 5:51 am

So true. We shouldn’t expect too much or too little from the results. It will only lead us to the wrong path if we continue to ignore this problem.

Henrik Edberg September 18, 2007 at 1:23 pm

Thank you all for your comments.

Pamela September 19, 2007 at 3:40 am

This is a good reminder.
Most of the time we underestimate our tasks, especially if we’ve done it many times. We can’t be sure that it’ll be the same because certain situations might arise and change everything.

Henrik Edberg September 21, 2007 at 4:44 pm

Thanks for your comment, Pamela.

Doug Woods June 5, 2008 at 6:57 pm

I feel you address an important issue here, about giving up too soon.
Maybe the answer could lie in breaking our goals down into smaller steps. Yes, I know this is something we should already be doing but maybe the steps aren’t quite small enough and need to be broken down even further. Then we can focus upon the small steps without, hopefully, losing sight of the bigger picture.
It is always hard to maintain motivation and perseverance while working toward a big goal. So we can always try to give ourselves small rewards along the way for achieving smaller goals.

Tim Smith October 13, 2008 at 9:40 pm

Henrik,,

What a great article on a subject that no one writes nearly enough about.

In a world of instant gratification,this really hits home.

Persist and persist some more!!

Timothy Smith(Smile-Therapy.com)

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