Why Your Dream Will Probably Take Forever, and Why That’s Good

Let’s face it – as men, we can be pretty impatient at times. We want what we want and we want it as soon as possible, especially for those of us who are highly driven.

So it makes sense why we get frustrated when the dreams and goals we have aren’t accomplished as quickly as we want. Then we typically get fed up with the whole process and resign ourselves to going through the motions because, well, we don’t have time to wait and work for what we truly want.

The bad news is, there isn’t a shortcut. The good news is, there isn’t a shortcut. Let me explain.

The book The Self-Made Billionaire Effect talks about how one of the character traits of successful people is “patient urgency”. Successful people tend to have the ability to wait for the right time, but they can’t wait to work on and perfect their idea until it is the right time. But waiting until the right time is the key to that equation. 

Most men would probably say that they have the urgency part down, it’s just the waiting for the right time part that they get hung up on.

Look at some of the most successful people around:

Seth Godin, one of the world’s leading voices on marketing and entrepreneurship, spent years at a software company and other jobs before he saved enough money to start his first business. 

Mark Cuban, one of the most successful business investors in the world, worked at odd jobs in college and sold software as a salesman before he finally went out and did his thing on his own years later. 

Dave Ramsey, America’s leading voice on personal finance, sold his books out of the trunk of his car and had a small-time radio show for years before he ever caught real traction. 

Gary Vaynerchuk, one of the leading experts on digital marketing and personal branding, spent 12 years working his tail off before he started really building his personal brand. He was only able to build his personal brand because he spent those 12 years in the trenches.

All throughout history you can find example after example of people who were successful only after years of hard work. You’ll have to look hard for that part of the story though, because that’s not the sexy part and therefore it’s the part that gets skipped in most success stories.

The truth is, if you want to do anything of any significance it’s going to take time. Once you look around the world and start examining what anything truly impactful looks like, you’ll start to see that there really is no such thing as overnight success. Not in work, not with your kids, not with your marriage, not with your money, not with your friendships. It all takes a grueling amount of work.

But in the end, the process works for our good because it prepares us for when it’s time to step up and do the thing we’ve been waiting impatiently to do.

It’s very hard for men to keep that in mind, especially in this generation. With guys like Mark Zuckerberg and other tech entrepreneurs that seem to change the world overnight, it’s tough to keep hard work and persistence in mind. 

But you can’t use them as models. Their stories are one in a billion. 99.99% of the time, hard work and dedication is what pays off, not swinging for the fences.

Consider the 10,000-hour rule. Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours of practice before you can be truly great at any one skill. If you spent two hours a day working on your skill, it would take you over 13 years to be truly great at that skill. Even if you spent 10 hours a day working on it, it would still take you nearly 3 years to achieve expertise.

So, what does that mean for you? 

Keep your head down, be consistent, and don’t get discouraged. Don’t obsess over something for the sake of achieving your goals faster. Slow down and enjoy life and take every experience as it comes. Don’t look past the here and now, because you’re right where you are for a reason. Learn today’s lessons so you’re ready for tomorrow’s tests.

Rick Warren, author of the book Purpose Driven Life calls this “life’s waiting room”. If you’re in the waiting room right now, waiting for something eagerly, it’s understandable to get antsy. But there’s a necessary process that must take place before anything of any significance can happen. So, stay balanced, carry the load a little at a time, and don’t give up.

Let me tell you a quick story to illustrate this point:

There was once a psychology professor who taught stress management principles to students, and one day she stepped in front of the class, filled a glass full of water, and raised it where everyone could see. All of the students expected they’d be asked the typical “glass half empty or glass half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, the professor asked, “How heavy is this glass of water I’m holding?”

Students shouted out answers ranging from eight ounces to a couple pounds. The professor then replied, “From my perspective, the absolute weight of this glass doesn’t matter. It all depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute or two, it’s fairly light. If I hold it for an hour straight, its weight might make my arm ache a little. If I hold it for a day straight, my arm will likely cramp up and feel completely numb and paralyzed, forcing me to drop the glass to the floor. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels to me.”

As the class shook their heads in agreement, she continued, “Stresses and worries in life are very much like this glass of water. When carried for short periods of time, they have relatively no effect. However, the longer you try to hold them without balance and rest, the more they can hurt you. At first, you begin to ache a little, but after a while, that same amount of relatively small weight can make you feel completely numb and paralyzed – incapable of doing anything else until you drop them.”

The truth is, you can carry a lot more than you think you can, you just have to do it a little at a time. I know it’s frustrating and I know you want so badly to immediately be where you envision yourself going. But give yourself a break, choose to back up and gain perspective, and baby-step your way to your goals. 

Your wife, kids, family, friends, co-workers, and community need all of you right now, not sometime in the future. So next time you feel like your dream is taking forever, try to remember that’s a good thing. You’ll be all-the-better for it when the time comes.