We live in a culture that prioritizes results and reveres what many might dub an overnight success story. How could someone be that lucky? That gifted and favored by a higher power? All achievements must be fast to be noteworthy, work must be efficient, and meeting your goals in an arbitrarily short amount of time will hasten the approach of your newest upcoming stage of life, right? 

Nope. That’s wrong. So very, very wrong.

Here’s a secret that only reveals itself to be more and more true each time you experience it: nothing long lasting or worth having happens instantaneously. If it comes quickly, chances are it’ll leave quickly as well. There’s also a good reason we celebrate those who manage to “make it” with lists like Forbes 30 Under 30: it’s news. It’s not normal for someone that young to achieve that level of success in such a short amount of time. Furthermore, nearly every overnight success story is actually a story that’s been many years in the making.

Exceptionalism has proven itself to be a sort of disease in our culture. If you can’t do it faster, better, and bigger than the next person, why even bother doing it all? This is fine if you’re competing in the Olympics on the global stage, but this is not a competition, you are quite literally making a smart investment with your hard earned money, so why all of this extra pressure to out-perform some arbitrary standard that you’ve set for yourself?

By all means, set your goals. Buying a house is not nothing, it’s an achievement, a testament to your investment acumen, and for many buying a home is a lifelong dream and represents so much more than a house. But, this should be a regular occurrence. Housing is a fundamental right. I hate to break it to you, but Forbes magazine isn’t coming to your house to take a picture of you standing in your empty living room, triumphant because it’s bigger and better than everyone else’s living room.

Much like these alleged overnight success stories, you didn’t start believing these fallacies overnight either, they’re baked into the world we live in. The main culprit behind this all or nothing philosophy is closely tied into the element of that non-existent competition you’ve set up between yourself, your peer group, and everyone else in your life, so here’s a hard truth you can start mulling over: you don’t have to see immediate results for your work to be worthwhile. Doing diligent, thoughtful work over a period of time in order to achieve a long term goal is worth celebrating and considered as much a part of the “win” you’ll inevitably experience when you do purchase that piece of real estate. There’s no shame in the waiting game. In fact, your ability to wait it out in a space of delayed gratification is the exact element that separates people who accomplish their goals and people who are just looking for a quick fix and some gold stars.

The competition isn’t real! There’s no race, so stop and catch your breath. Have we learned nothing from the fable of the tortoise and the hare? You don’t need to win anything, but you do need to do the thing you said you were going to do: put the work in and set yourself up for success in real estate. All of the “go, go, go, faster, do it now” advice is setting yourself up for failure and disappointment and is usually peddled by people who have ulterior motives that have little to nothing to do with actually helping you. There are no instant fixes or miracle cures in life.

The fact of the matter is that you’re still on the right path even if you can’t see the destination on the horizon just yet. You know where you’re going. You don’t need the receipts to prove anything to anyone, because there’s nothing to prove. It’s none of anyone’s business what you do or do not have right this minute. Even if you desperately wanted to show off the work you’ve been doing, no one else will be able to appreciate the feeling behind it; they can’t see that dream house in your head you’re working towards and saving for. But, that’s fine! Other people don’t have to live in it or believe it exists, but you do, and yours is the only opinion that matters.

It’s not flashy, exciting, or cute to be doing years worth of work with no tangible results to flash around. That’s fine. Flashiness does not hold value, act as equity, appreciate in value, or put a roof over your head, whereas a home can do that. So, don’t be afraid of being regular. Your home isn’t magically worth more if you do it by a certain date, age, or at either end of a major life’s milestone. Even if it makes your skin crawl with impatience, the work is always worth it, especially when it comes to investing in your overall quality of life.

Your work is worthy, your work is working, and one day your work will speak for itself.

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