How to be an overnight success 

 October 11, 2018

We live in a world where we want instant gratification, and we are bombarded with images and articles of people who are successful. When we see the images, ads, and articles, we get the idea that we can be an overnight success. We are given the idea that these people achieved high levels of success in a short time

This is a dangerous path to go down....if we think high levels of success come with relatively little effort or in a short amount of time, we then expect the same for ourselves. And because these expectations are false, when we don't live up to them, we feel like we've failed and we quit.


True success in any endeavor is the result of small, simple things done diligently, repeatedly, and consistently. Being an "overnight success" comes after years of dedicated work and effort. The key, then, is to decide what you want, then decide what habits you need to get you there. It's who you will become in the process that brings the success.

This deceptively simple process is all about the compound effect.

What is the compound effect?

The compound effect is what we see in action when we think someone has become an overnight success. Let's use a well-known example to illustrate this point. Suppose you have two choices. You can receive $3 million dollars today, or you can wait 31 days and receive $0.01 doubled every day. Which would you choose?

This graph shows what the penny, doubled every day, would give you after 31 days.

compound effect overnight success

That's $10,737,418.20! Don't you wish you'd waited? But here's the kicker - it wasn't even until Day 30 that you would surpass the $3 million dollar mark!

This is what overnight success looks like

It's simply the compound effect, with that big jump coming after years of dedicated, consistent action. 

Determine which habits and actions will help you achieve your goals, and do them every day, without fail. It's this simple pattern of living that distinguishes those who truly succeed at what they want in life from those who don't.

As it's been so aptly said many times, "What is easy to do is also easy not to do."

There are some key steps you can take to implement the compound effect in your life to achieve the results you want. If you want to go into more detail, I highly recommend getting The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy.

What do you want?

If you want to be highly successful, you first have to decide what you want. What one thing, what one area of life, do you want to be known for? Yes, you can be a great father, husband, son, friend, and business owner. But you cannot be a highly successful golfer, cellist, tailor, and chef.

All great endeavors require a commitment of your time. If you're content with just being good at many things, and not great at one thing, that's ok. The key is to decide what truly matters to you in life and how you want to spend your time. 

Ask yourself some key questions to get you started and help you focus:

  • When you are 100 years old and you reflect back on your life, what do you want to have accomplished? What do you want to be known for?
  • What makes your heart happy? What do you love to do?
  • What impact do you want to have on others? Do you want to focus on your family, your community, a particular organization?

Here are some other activities to help you decide what you want.

Once you have a good idea of what you want, write it out in as much detail as possible.

  • What does this dream of yours look like? 
  • What does it feel like?
  • How are you spending your days now that you've accomplished it?
  • Who do you work with or spend the most time with?
  • What do you need to learn, what habits must you form, to accomplish this goal?

Your goals must be written down if you want to achieve them. Many people have goals, but only the top 3% of the population achieves their goals. Why? Because they've written them down.

Create the habits for success

Once you decide on your goals, take an honest assessment of how you're spending your time. How much time do you spend doing things that will move your forward? How much time do you spend doing things that don't move you toward your goals?

Take a look at the various things you do with your time, and categorize them into "bad, good, better, best." Bad things would be those that take you away from your goals.

Other things in life fall under the "good, better, best" categories. It can be difficult to determine where something goes. Again, relate the activities to your goals.

If you're the type of person who has many talents and enjoys trying many different things, you might have to let go of some activities if you truly want to be highly successful at something.

About three years ago, I gave up a few habits and hobbies that I enjoyed, but that took a lot of time away from things I decided were "better." I got some resistance from others about my decisions. YOU are the only one who knows and can decide what activities to keep and which to let go of as you move forward.

What habits do you need to adopt?

Now that you've taken an honest assessment of your time and activities, go back to you goals again and determine what habits you'll need to strengthen or develop. If you're not sure, take a look at someone who is already success doing what you want to do and study their behavior.

Creating the habit of right thought is one of the most important things you will need to develop to achieve your goals. The nature of life is that our thoughts tend to wander and be negative unless and until we train ourselves to focus on what we want. This is why having clear goals is so important.

To create the habit of right thought, train yourself to think of good, uplifting, positive things throughout the day. Repeat your goal to yourself throughout the day. Create affirmations of who you want to become and repeat them over and over. Sing uplifting songs. Create images of things that you want and call them to mind.

Become an overnight success

  • Come to truly understand the compound effect and how it impacts all areas of your life
  • Decide what you want, and write it down
  • Determine what habits you need to create and what habits you need to get rid of, and make a plan to change

How have you seen the compound effect, or overnight success, in your life?

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About the author

Jen Bessire, PhD, is a Christian medium, author, and healer. After 23 years as a physical therapist, God called her to her current path in 2014. She delights in helping others come unto Christ, heal generational trauma, and create a life of freedom. God is calling you - are you listening?

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