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11 reasons why it's taking you so long to succeed in life

May 31, 2019, 20:59 IST


  • Success can take a long, long time.
  • If you have a business idea that isn't making any money, or a promotion that isn't happening just yet, there may be an answer to why your hard work isn't paying off.
  • Here are 11 answers from Quora users on why it's taking you so long to succeed.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Almost no one is an overnight success. Just because you haven't gotten your business up and running yet, or gotten the promotion you've been expecting, it doesn't mean you never will.

There are a number of possible explanations for a long-awaited pay-off that hasn't arrived. It could be because you haven't failed enough, or that your ego is in the way.

We compiled the best responses from Quora users to this question: "Why is it taking me so long to succeed?"

Here are their answers.


You're not doing the tasks that count.

Quora user Lukas Schwekendiek suggests that success comes after hard work, but only if that hard work is done properly. He writes:

"There are only ever a few tasks that really count, with the rest of the things supporting that core...In the same way, your business, relationships and finances are also not going to improve if you do not do the few tasks that matter!"

He compares running a business like going to the gym — you can read everything there is to know about the gym and go once a week, or you can know almost nothing about fitness and spend two hours a day at the gym. Chances are, if you spend two hours a day there, you'll be healthier.

You haven't failed enough.

According to Quora user Kane Harry, failure is a crucial step towards success. Anyone who hasn't succeeded probably hasn't failed enough. He writes:

"While you sit there leisurely, others are challenging themselves with successive failures, learning new things. Because only when you fail can you get the lesson for yourself, like steel [that] has been beaten through the red fire, and you are able to cope with life full of sharper swords than you."

By failing again and again, you'll sharpen your skills and your wits, leading you to make the right decisions the next time you're faced with a challenge.

There are no shortcuts.

Quora user Hector Quintanilla used an example from one of the most successful businessmen of all time, Walt Disney, to illustrate his point:

"Back in 1919, Walt Disney moved to Kansas City to pursue a career as a newspaper artist. He was fired because his editor felt he 'lacked imagination and had no good ideas.' After being fired, Walt made a deal with a local theater to screen his cartoons, which he called Laugh-O-Grams. Even though they were popular, by 1923, his studio was drowning in debt, and Disney was forced to declare bankruptcy. It took Disney nearly 20 years to succeed. It was not until December 1937, when Walt released Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which produced $1.5 million and won a total of eight Oscars, that he found substantial success. Because there are no shortcuts!"

Walt Disney would go on to be synonymous with children's entertainment, and his once-bankrupt company is now the fourth-richest media company in the world.

Everyone has their own time zone.

Quora user Zeeshan Ul Islam says that there shouldn't be so much pressure on finding success at a young age. It takes some people decades:

"Everyone has their own time zone: It means that some people succeed in their 20s, some do it in the 60s or 70s. It is because the situations are very different for both individuals. Facebook was a success for Zuckerberg in his 20s, whereas Colonel Sanders of KFC succeeded post 60."

Not everyone can be Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, or Jeff Bezos. Some CEOs don't become successful until they're well into their later years. We wouldn't have iconic companies like McDonald's (Ray Kroc, age 52), Walmart (Sam Walton, age 44), or even instant ramen maker Nissin Foods (Momofuku Ando, age 48) otherwise.

You're petrified of losing.

Failure is frightening. Losing your savings on a failed business is doubly frightening. Quora user Adam Fayed has some advice on losses:

"Being so petrified of losses, that in reality, you aren't trying to succeed. Most people want success, but they want it without the risks and sacrifices involved. Most people find losses and declines more hurtful than gains are pleasurable, so are more concerned with 'not losing' than winning. Not many people would take a commission-only job, for example, even if they are 21 and have nothing to lose. Most people are petrified of losses with investments, and so just put the money in the bank, even though that is a long-term losing strategy."

You're dwelling on negative events.

Quora user Elaine Sihera says that it's important to be hard on yourself, but don't focus on your mistakes to the point where they keep you from acting. She writes:

"Personal growth comes through a willingness to accept change from daily endeavours. But we are hampered by a fear of the consequences, a fear of taking risks, of creating opportunities and even a fear of handling success. In fact, some people's low opinion of themselves is so deep-rooted, and their resistance to change so strong, it would probably take years to show them that they are unique, talented human beings who can control their own future to great personal satisfaction."

You haven't looked at your goal in a while.

Sometimes, when pursuing our goals, we look too closely at the details and forget the big picture. Quora user Elizabeth Morrow has advice for anyone in this situation:

"Look at your goal. Is it still something that you're interested in? It's not unusual for a goal to need tweaks, or even be changed entirely. As time passes, we all change. We learn more about ourselves, more about opportunities out there, and become more realistic about our wants. This doesn't mean that your first goal was poorly chosen. It only underscores how much you've grown. So, sit back, reassess what you want, and set a new goal."

She also said that if you haven't met your goal yet, it doesn't necessarily mean you've failed yet. But if you look at your goal and realize that it's unrealistic, set a new one.

You're forgetting the law of incubation.

Quora user Zeeshan Ul Islam says there is a law of incubation for success. He writes:

"Everything in this universe has some incubation period. A chicken's egg hatches in 21 days, whereas a human fetus has roughly a nine-month gestation period. However, a human can be much more useful and impactful to society than a chicken. Incubation is the law of nature. Great things take time. Impossible takes a little longer."

Zeeshan is saying that great things take time, and greater things take longer. Perhaps your goal is so lofty, you'll need more time to meet it — unless your goal is to have a pet chicken.

You're too focused on your ego.

If you haven't seen success yet, it might not be the goal you set or the people keeping you from making it happen. The problem might be your own ego. Quora user Kane Harry's answer:

"Because you think you are more intelligent. Because intelligence does not show through what you have learned, but through the way you live."

Don't be afraid to ask for help from those around you. Just because the success is all yours, it doesn't mean you have to earn it on your own. Every entrepreneur, artist, or politician has dozens of people to thank for their success.

You're setting unrealistic goals for yourself.

Quora user Elaine Sihera also had some ideas on goal-setting. She writes that you could be setting unrealistic goals for yourself:

"Often, this is an attempt to seek approval and attain the unreachable. However, as you may not be quite ready for them, such actions mainly encourage you to procrastinate and to lower your achievement rate. They also increase your disappointment and confirm your negative fears."

By setting smaller goals, you'll find it easier to achieve them, giving you a sense of success. And little by little, those goals will get bigger. The biggest businesses had remarkably humble goals when they started out (Amazon was an online bookstore, and Facebook was a glorified college dating site).

Perhaps you're running out of inspiration.

Along similar lines, Quora user Zsolt Hermann says you might not be inspired anymore. He writes:

"All of these problems — finding worthy, realistic, all-important goals, receiving the necessary support, inspiration all the time, and finding the necessary mutually responsible, mutually complementing interconnections — can be solved in the right, purposeful, mutually supportive environment."

The reason you've run out of inspiration could be your environment, according to Hermann. Take another look at the people around you. Are they supportive? Do they believe in your big idea, career, or creative endeavor? If not, they may not be invested in your success. Instead, make lasting connections with people who are.

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