Isn’t It Easier to Read About a Success Story Than Do It?

I’ve been asked a lot about paying off $70k, quitting my job even though I made two thirds of the income, or getting national media attention. It’s easy to talk about because it’s done. I worked hard when we were getting our finances under control. I was out of my comfort zone when I quit my job or went on national television. It was hard when I was doing it. But it feels much better on the other side!

When we read success stories, they serve as inspiration and motivation. It also sounds a lot easier than it might have been. Why?

Memory fades, and things are always easier when someone else does them.

Memory Fades

We don’t remember everything. I’m a mom so I have to relate this to having a baby. It’s ridiculously hard to do. It’s painful and miserable.

Then a few years later I did it again. Mothers do it again because the pain was temporary and the results were worth it.

I remember a couple points of struggle in my journey so far, but otherwise though it didn’t seem that hard. Was the problem not that hard or did my memory fade?

When I’m asked questions about my success story in paying off debt and quitting my job, it’s easy to take out the hard parts.

  • Spending hours researching health insurance for self employed people and realizing what ever I choose it will cost way more than I thought.
  • Working ridiculous hours each week in a different state while I was 7 months pregnant, because I was paid more when I worked on-site.
  • Never seeing my husband because he was working so much too.
  • The insane first three months of my sons life filled with colic and milk allergies. Did I want to quit my job?
  • The immediate fear I felt before and after telling my boss I quit. (what if it doesn’t work out?)
  • The thought of my husband breaking an arm and not being able to work. (he’s a performer – Audiobody)

I can give tips on how to get through these things, but I really don’t talk about the struggles a lot. When I’m interviewed we always touch on how hard it was, then talk about how great it is on the other side.

So next time you listen to or read a success story, keep in mind that it’s not the whole story. 🙂

Hearing It Is Easier Than Doing it

Listening to a successful person struggling or starting from zero is easy.

First, you already know the ending. You know they become successful in the end. You don’t doubt that they are going to push through and become incredibly successful.

Second, you weren’t there. The months and months of struggle or being broke can be summed up in a few sentences. A few sentences is extremely different than living it with emotions, and obstacles in your way. Since you don’t live in their head you really don’t know what happened during that time. They might be going through the EXACT same thing you are right now.

Third, we give successful people super powers. When people are successful, we assume they have something that we don’t. Since we haven’t achieved as much as them we must be missing something.

Three Things You Can Do To Become A Success Story

Know Your Ending. Since I was little I “knewâ€? I would be a millionaire. I’m not yet, but I still know my ending. I knew that no matter what it took I would quit my job. Even if it took a long period of time, eventually my ending would come true.

What would it be like if you really knew your ending? Would you make different decisions today?

Accept Struggle. Every business owner I talk to has some sort of problem they are trying to solve. That’s why they are in the business! They are problem solvers. Problems aren’t always fun. Many times they come with struggle.

You may even feel like everything sucks one day, and everything is great the next. Even when nothing actually changes. That happens, and accepting it will allow you to move forward anyway.

No One Has Super Powers. We are all human. As much as I would love to have super powers, I don’t. But guess what? Successful people don’t either. They are just human beings living with fear, embracing it and moving forward towards their dreams anyway.

I’ve heard over and over from very successful people, that they can look around a room and see people smarter, more talented or qualified then they are. They aren’t super human. They are just like you, but they have been able to create better opportunities for themselves.

Whenever I read success stories, I get wrapped up in the inspiration and motivation. That’s what they are for. Let me tell you from experience it’s a whole lot easier talking about it from the other side.

So remember if it feels hard right now, that’s normal! Successful people have gone through really hard times too. Actually living it will hurt more than reading about it in a book, or listening to it in a podcast. 🙂

It can suck to accomplish difficult goals. It can be very uncomfortable. But it’s temporary, you are growing and it really is easier on the other side.

Never wish life was easier, wish that you were better. – Jim Rohn

Do you have anything to add?

(I just came back from vacation in the Caribbean with my entire family. Controlling your money to get what you really want out of life is an amazing thing!)

 

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Hi I’m Jaime. Each and every week I bring you the top business advice from the people who know best.

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8 responses

  • Wonderful analogy–changing careers really is a lot like giving birth. Everyone wants a magic pill to success. I think it’s important to acknowledge that the tradtional measures of success aren’t satisfying in and of themselves. It’s why lottery winners are still miserable. So the that struggle that we’re all so eager to avoid? That’s the thing that makes it. When we overcome our obstacles ourselves (and not with the magic pill), we can honestly say we’ve earned something. What we’ve earned is self-confidence and new skill sets that allow to be effective in life. And as the saying goes, that’s priceless. 🙂

    Enjoyed this post a lot, Jamie. Shine on!

  • It strikes me that successful people accept a struggle, learn from that struggle and then move forward; it’s the foundation of why they are a success.

    I’m trying to decide if giving birth was easier or harder than paying off my £45k of debt?! It was quicker, but I’m not sure that it was easier! I’ll let you know 😉

  • Success requires hard work! Most successful people fail before they succeed. You have to be willing to try and be well prepared.

  • I recently realized I spent so much time reading and researching other people’s success than focusing on my own. Also, focused a lot on the end result of the success stories and felt like I couldn’t measure up.

    This post, along with advice I read to just take the first step and then just keep on stepping is right on. Not always roses. I think I will be able to quit a job once and for all in the future, but at this point in my life, I wasn’t ready to go it alone. So I got a new job with a thought out side plan of action.

  • Go Jaime!!! I’m cheering you on!

    I haven’t had the experience of giving birth to a baby. Congratulations on your success in giving birth.

    Here’s what I want to add:

    I’m taking an 8-week MBSR Training (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) developed by Jon Kabot-Zinn and highly researched as effective in actually changing people’s brains in that 8-week period.

    The teacher, Christiane Wolf, is the mother of three young children (all under 7 or 8, I believe) and she is an MD (OB-GYN), so has a lot of expereince with childbirth. As she was teaching the class two weeks ago, she was talking about pain and distractions from the mindfulness training practices she was teaching. She analogized to the contractions that a woman experiences as the precursor to giving birth. She drew a horizontal line across the middle of the white-board, and then drew a series of waves across the board from left to right. The top of the wave representing the most intense moment of the contraction. (It would be easier with the visual, but I think you can still get this potent principle which your “success story” illustraits). She went on to explain that the contraction lasted an average of a minute, and that there was an average of a 5 min. pause between contractions. So in an hour of contractions, there would be a total of 10 minutes of contractions and 50 minutes of pause where there were no contractions. And then she went on to say that the contraction itself had a rising from baseline (no pain) to the top intensity and then lowering back to baseline, and the top intensity lasted seconds (I forget how long she said). It doesn’t really matter if I have my numbers right. The point she was making was that the fear and anticipation of the seconds of intense pain would typically overshadow the reality that most of the contraction period leading up to birth is not at the intense level and you get frequent pauses to recover.

    I hope I did justice to her analogy. I think it applies to any challenge. There’s going to be problems and difficulties with any goal worth reaching for, and if the fear and anticipation of the difficulties (the pain) overshadows the reality of the little successes (pauses from the challenges) along the way, you’ll never “go for it” and never “birth” a “success story” to share with and inspire the world!

    Thanks for your inspiration (and if you want to contact Christiane to get the details of that principle, you could reach her at insightla.org

    Wish you continued success,

    Tom

  • Having six kids having just finished building our second full custom home, I have found that home building and child birth are very similar. You forget the pain — just long enough to get entrenched in it again. Then it comes rushing back to you in waves.

    To celebrate my 40th birthday, I ran a marathon. Hardest thing I’ve ever done. But I am so glad I finished it!

    Push through!

  • Great points, Jaime. Memory fades when you’re on the other side of a difficult path, but it’s equally true to say that rocky terrain can look easier when you haven’t started crossing it yet. It’s just as well we don’t know *all* that’s coming to us when we set off on a journey towards what I call our “vital vocation”. If we did, we might not get started, and then we’d miss the good as well as the bad…
    Thanks for the inspiration!
    Brian
    http://www.vitalvocation.com

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