You hear the term “overnight success” when an unknown author has a hugely popular book release and lands on a bestseller list or when a relatively unknown actor is suddenly in everything and winning awards or a singer you’ve never heard of is all over entertainment news.
Here’s the thing: It is NEVER overnight.
There is not one person who just woke up one day world-renowned and successful.
No matter what it looks like from the outside, success is a long-term project and usually a constant work in progress.
Success Takes Time
Success takes time. And a lot of really hard work, long hours, hustling, late nights, studying, learning, failing, then eventually hopefully failing enough to learn enough to become successful.
Every time an actor “just pops up out of nowhere,” it is preceded by hundred of auditions, hours upon hours of class and study, years of working small gigs and auditioning more to get to that point.
And once you become “successful” or known, then the harder work begins: Staying there.
Lately, I have been getting more attention and exposure for my writing. I’ve gotten more people contacting me through my website who are not referrals or people I have been marketing myself to.
I just got a publishing contract.
I reached 3000 followers here on Medium and continue to gain more.
If you are reading this and it is your first time reading a story of mine, know there are several hundred others I’ve written and posted here…not to mention the 6 years prior to Medium I blogged on Blogspot, or the 2 years before that on LiveJournal, or the 15 years before that in personal handwritten journals.
I have written articles under my own name for Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Lifehack, and more. I’ve published 2 books and am working on a third.
I’ve ghostwritten articles which have appeared in Inc and Entrepreneur Magazine.
I’ve had an entire 32-and-a-half year life before you found me, almost all of which I wanted to be a writer.
I feel no more “successful” now than I did 6 months or a year ago.
Every single day I am working toward my goal of being a successful writer. I am already profitable and have a business, but “success” can be defined in many ways — and the “success” of being known by the public is not something I truly strive for, though I will enjoy it as or IF it happens.
My “success” is also built on having an entire career prior to being a writer. I was in corporate sales and business development for 10 years! In fact, much of the success in my ability to run a profitable business came from everything I learned in my sales career: How to run a business, manage my time, what a good and bad boss looks like, P&L statements, quarterly budgets, business expenses, marketing, and so much more.
There is nothing sudden about success. It is a constant journey, an ever-changing one.
Why Does it Seem So Sudden?
Maybe it seems sudden or overnight to you simply because YOU have never heard of that person before. Doesn’t mean they didn’t exist or a lot of other people didn’t know of them.
Maybe it’s success (a.k.a. survivorship) bias, where you are only hearing about the success and never heard about all the time spent failing.
Maybe you just didn’t go looking for them and now they are suddenly thrust upon you (in your news feed, your Youtube suggestions, the news articles). That would certainly feel sudden.
Just remember — every overnight success you have ever heard of or thought about was anything but overnight.
Which, really, should be a comforting thought.
All YOUR hard work can pay off so that you, too, can one day be an “overnight” success.
You didn’t miss out on anything or miss the opportunity to become one — you’re simply still working your way there.