A few weeks ago, I noticed my apartment was running low on toilet paper. I picked up my phone, opened Amazon.com, and two days later, forty-eight rolls of TP arrived on the doorstep. Sure, I could have gone to the corner store like a normal person, but why waste five minutes purchasing a mundane commodity like toilet paper, when you can get borderline magical service via the Internet?
What I can do now amazes me every day. Everything from monitoring my social universe, sharing my activities in real time, tracking my health, ordering transportation, etc. has provided a level of instant gratification unlike anything the world has seen. With it, however comes one major drawback.
There are some things, that no matter how hard you try to speed up, you just can’t. Building lasting relationships, establishing a reputation of trust, cultivating a loyal audience, growing an investment portfolio, are a few examples. The big idea being that there are certain parts of life that by definition are immune to this particular trend.
Identify The Things
The first step to make this idea work for you, rather than against you, is to identify the things in your life that can’t be instantly gratified. Can you fall in love at first sight? Maybe, but my experience suggests otherwise. Does a day at the gym give you the body of Arnold Schwarzenegger? Not exactly, but knowing this isn’t bad, it’s actually beneficial to help manage your expectations.
Shakespeare said, “There is neither bad nor good, but thinking makes it so.” If you’re expecting someone to fall in love with you after one date, you’re probably going to be disappointed, similarly, if you invest in the stock market hoping to get rich quick, you’re going to lose more money than you make. Only until you’ve diagnosed the situation as requiring consistent work, rather than a quick fix, can you begin to build your foundation.
If you want to become very wealthy, my best advice for you is to begin your business ventures yesterday. If you don’t care about money, this principle still applies to you. Whatever your craft, you need to establish a foundation as early as possible. If you’ve ever seen a skyscraper built, the project spends a whole lot of time looking like nothing. Then, suddenly the entire thing’s finished. How do they do that?
The answer is the foundation provided a frame for growth. To begin your journey, regardless of where you want to go, you have to start somewhere. As billionaire Warren Buffet’s partner, Charlie Munger says, “don’t sit there sucking your thumb". Mistakes can be fixed, but real progress can’t just be fantasized. You only benefit from hindsight by moving forward.
There are things in life you should do quickly. Buying toilet paper is one of those things, the faster the better. There are other areas however, that must accumulate slowly. Your reputation, savings, relationships, audiences, etc. all require consistent little steps. Don’t be discouraged by the apparent lack of progress, rather see it as a sign that you’re fast on the trail. In time, your solid foundation will provide you more than the necessary support to touch the skies.