Freelancing,  Personal Growth

You Won’t Be an “Overnight Success” – But That’s a Good Thing

We freelancers and bloggers see it on Facebook, Instagram, and everywhere else on the internet every single day.

A news story about a 23-year old making six figures within months of launching their business.

Or a blogger in your Facebook group who made $1000 of passive income within a month of their website going live. 

These “overnight success” stories should be inspiring to us – and they are, to a point – but inevitably, they cause us to look at our own progress, or lack thereof, and start wondering what we’re doing wrong. 

Today, I’m here to tell you if you’re actively working towards your goal, then you’re not doing anything wrong at all.

Don’t skim this, okay? Listen to me:

Even if you’re making mistakes along the way and not progressing as fast as you’d like, you’re doing it right. 

In fact, I would go as far as to say that you shouldn’t be striving for overnight success at all. As someone who’s freelance business has been inching along like the proverbial tortoise for the past three years, I can attest that slow success is the best kind of success!

Don’t believe me? Here are 6 reasons it’s true.

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Stop trying to speed your way to success. It's not a race, and you won't win it, anyway. But believe it or not, that's a good thing! Whether it's your business or you're just looking for some career advice, your mindset towards goal setting should be the same. 1. An “Overnight Success” is pretty much never what you think it is

Most overnight successes are “overnight” in appearance only. You’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the time and energy that person put into preparing for that success. 

That blogger who is making $1000 after 30 days of launching their website? How much do you want to bet that it is not their first blog (or even their second)? Or, how much time do you think they spent preparing for the launch? 

How many times do you think they doubted themselves, or failed miserably, or had to start over before they found something that worked? How many hours do you think they put in to make it all happen? 

My favorite example of this is Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX. This is a company that spent a flippity-jillion dollars on rockets that kept exploding for a decade. Some of these explosions would have put the company under if it weren’t for outside investors.

But in 2017, SpaceX became the first to relaunch and land a used orbital rocket stage. Which, unless your a bit of a nerd, probably doesn’t sound that impressive, but trust me, it is. 

The moral of the story? Success is born from countless failures, not overnight miracles. 

Now, perhaps there are those that DO find success early and quickly, but understand that is the exception and not the norm. 

2. Slow progress means you’re being intentional 

I think it’s important that you work towards your goals with intention. You’re not just rushing to make money as quickly as possible no matter what the cost to your sanity or integrity. You have a chance to make each decision mindfully. 

In my case, it was being able to wait for the clients who were not only the best fit for me but I for them.

It means consciously deciding one day to the next what the best path for your business is.

3. You’re keeping overwhelm at bay

One of my favorite success quotes. There is no such thing as overnight success! There is only hard work, perseverance, and a positive mindset.
One of my favorite quotes about success!

Too much success too soon can lead to disaster if you don’t know how to handle it and you haven’t grown organically into that space yet. It doesn’t mean that whatever you achieved quickly will implode, but it can make for a rough transition.

When you build your business slowly, it’s an opportunity to learn at your own pace. Of course, you need to push past your comfort zone in order to grow, but you get to do it on your terms and in manageable chunks instead of jumping into the deep end (that may or may not have sharks in it.)

Sure, there will still be times when you feel overwhelmed, and that’s normal. But it will be a lot more manageable than suddenly having this massive business that you have no idea how to hold the reigns on. 

In other words, you get to grow with your business, and that’s a beautiful thing.

4. You’re working towards something you care about

In my opinion, building a business from the ground up is as much about the journey as it is about success. Showing up for your business day after day builds character and develops your emotional IQ. 

And as long as you are working towards something you really care about – especially if it’s something that you think can really help other people – then that is what really matters.

Don’t get me wrong, going into business to make money is important, definitely.

But equally so is going into business for something you really believe in. Because if it takes a long time to get to your destination, then so what? 

Life is a journey, not a destination!

5. You’re building resilience 

The more you experience setbacks, the better you get at dealing with them. The more often things go wrong, the less emotional you’ll get about it and the faster you’ll be able to bounce back. Or even if things don’t go wrong but just don’t go at all

I’m no stranger to setbacks when it comes to chasing any of my goals, whether it’s been fitness, my career, or my business. 

I lost out on opportunities.

I’ve had countless pitches rejected and ignored.

And thanks to Google and Pinterest algo updates, my hard-won website traffic has taken a nosedive on several occasions, and each time I had no idea when or if it would recover.

But I’m still going and growing. And each time I recover from a setback, it makes it that much easier to deal with the next one. 

And I think that resilience must be invaluable because it seems to me that the bigger the achievement, the bigger the challenges that come after them. You’re leveling up emotionally and mentally. 

6. Success will taste that much sweeter

When your business has grown slowly over months and years, each new milestone is a sweet victory, no matter how small! When you look back and see how far you’ve come, you’re able to appreciate everything you’ve achieved and it will motivate you to achieve even more. 

I’m on track to make more this month from my side business than I did for the entirety of 2018, and that’s such an awesome feeling. But it took three years to get to this point and I’m nowhere near done growing yet!

The Takeaway – Overnight Success is a Myth

Go ahead and be inspired and congratulate those who have found success – because chances are, they worked really hard to get to where they are and they will really appreciate your genuine encouragement and support. But don’t compare them to yourself for even one second, because they’re not on the same journey as you are. 

And that’s not just applicable to business endeavors, either. You should look at any journey towards any goal the exact same way!

Where are you in your freelancing or small business journey? Was there anything I forgot about the myth of overnight success in this list?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Corrie Alexander is a former ISSA-certified personal trainer, home fitness advocate, and founder of The Fit Careerist. A proponent of personal growth and a self-proclaimed fitness app-junkie, Corrie shares tips and product reviews with the goal of helping others on their own fitness journey.


  • Michelle

    Love this! It’s so encouraging. I have been moving rather slow and don’t always know the exact thing I’m doing to make money. I have ideas but nothing concrete. I’m walking dogs to earn money while I figure it out. I know I cannot go back to the hellish atmosphere of a corporate life that I just left so I’m moving slow and being intentional and observing how I can help others. I don’t have it all figured out but I’m hoping someday I’ll be closer. Right now I’m focusing on helping women with stress and making sure my message makes sense. Later I hope to offer something that I can potentially make money from but right now I’m enjoying learning more about my audience. It all takes time and going too fast will burn me out. Thank you for the reminders!

    • Corrie Alexander

      Thanks Michelle, I’m so glad you found this encouraging! Sounds like you have a great mindset about your budding business and for sure there are tons of women out there who are dealing with stress and will find value in your site and message! 😀

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