3 Reasons Why Your Hard Work Isn’t Paying Off and How You Can Change It.

3 Reasons Why Your Hard Work Isn’t Paying Off and How You Can Change It.
Carly Jacobs

One of the most boring words in the English language is ‘consistent’. It’s dull, it’s sensible, it’s monotonous. It’s bland, reeking of filing cabinets and sensible shoes.

However, in all of my infinite and grown up wisdom, I’ve decided that I like this word. It’s a strong word, it’s a determined word. This word ‘consistent’ might also be the reason that your hard work isn’t paying off. Here’s why.

There is No Such Thing as An Overnight Success

Successful people get all bashful once they’ve hit the big time. They play down their success by saying things like ‘Oh and I just auditioned and got the part, I didn’t even really try’ or ‘Well I’d been there the longest so I was the obvious choice for the promotion’. Successful people don’t just sit around waiting to be discovered, as much as they would like for you to think that. People who are top designers, elite athletes, CEOs, famous singers, accomplished writers or award-winning scientists didn’t just stick their hand up when the Career Gods were handing out awesome jobs. They quietly and consistently honed their appropriate skills and then they put their hand up. Don’t spend weeks working on your resume, spend years working on the stuff you put on your resume.

You Work in Short Bursts

Short bursts have their time and place but they need to be an increase of existing activity, not a flash of hard labour when you started at zero. The point is that you can’t ever completely stop what you are doing. You can cut back to the bare minimum, but every time you stop dead you’re losing all the valuable momentum that you gained in your last short burst. If you own a small business and you went hell for leather for 3 months stocking your online store, designing stationery and gaining a customer base, all your hard work becomes completely null and void when you lose motivation and your shop is sitting there empty for months. Do little bits, consistently. No amount of short bursts will lead you to success, I can promise you that.

You Only Work When Other People Succeed

How many times have you been inspired to get fit when your friend is flaunting a new banging bod? Or decided to ‘get back into writing’ when someone you know nabs a book deal? If you care enough about your goal you need to be consistent. Work at it every day. Don’t let the success of others be your motivation reminder. Let the daily habit of working towards your goal be your motivation reminder.

So what are you going to be consistent with? Singing practice? Exercise? Eating well? Being on time to work? Cleaning your house? Persuing your dream job? Do share! I’ll hold you accountable.


  1. Erin 8 years ago

    This is such good advise. I run my own business and I have found the key is to contribute something to it every day that gets you in the public eye, whether it be a blog post, updating my business Facebook page, sharing on Twitter etc. While the gains aren’t always obvious, nobody is going to find you if you don’t do anything! Love your work Carly.

  2. Claire Suellentrop 8 years ago

    Loved your thoughts on overnight success. I recently won an award within the field I’m hoping to enter soon, and definitely played it down out of shyness. But looking back, I put years of work and long, sleepless hours of dedication into that. Never thought about the fact that I might deserve some credit 🙂

    Not at all trying to be braggy or pretentious. Just realizing that yes, the people who are great at what they do are great *because* they spend so much time doing it.

    Lovely post.

  3. Alex 8 years ago

    Writing, writing, writing. I try and stay focused, if I slip up I try and forgive myself for the days I have not written and get back into it. I find that if I give myself a hard time about it I shy away even more.

    Great post.

  4. sarah 8 years ago

    Love it.

  5. Silvara 8 years ago

    Loved this – it is such a timely reminder for me not to lose focus and motivation for the things that I want to do and achieve.

    For some reason I destest the word consistency, only because it conjures up images of doing boring repititive things, but you are totally right about it. Consistency hones your talent and passion and gets you successful.

  6. Bek 8 years ago

    Awesome post. x

  7. Anonymous 8 years ago

    This is such a timely reminder for me! I have been slowly building my photography business for about eighteen months now, and sometimes I get discouraged and lose motivation. Yet the moment i snap back into it and consistently shoot, even for free, and market myself jobs come my way. Consistency feeds success and success feeds more success. 

    Now, to be consistent with blogging, I’ll get there right? 🙂

  8. dempster 8 years ago

    Thanks for this: again, Lady Smaggle to the rescue!
    This easy to forget because we never hear about someone’s ten years of boring work amongst the washing, shopping and bill paying… we only hear about their glittering success. Consistency is the best and friendliest way to make it happen.
    A friend of mine had her book published amongst some fanfare and they asked her in a press interview how long it took, and she said “twelve years” and the journalist said, no really. And so they wrote that it took her 6 months, when really it took 6 months for her publisher to call her back!! Twelve years of work just wasn’t glamorous…
    Currently I am being consistent doing this:
    and a slow, steady and consistent input is yielding much less stress – and satisfaction – than other years which were all about the mad dash.

  9. Nikki Parkinson 8 years ago

    Love a Lady Smaggle butt kicking!

  10. Karen Marie 8 years ago

    The most valuable thing I’ve read in a long time. I’m printing this out and keeping it close at hand. Thank you, thank you <3

  11. JessB 8 years ago

    Motivation is important for consistency too – I wasn’t loving my job, and was about 5-10 minutes late every day for a week. Then, I had to take 3 weeks off to do a placement for my course at the most amazing place, and I’ve been 20 minutes early every day.

    I agree that consistency is amazing, and it’s something I aspire to. I’ve already achieved it in my emotional life. I struggled for years to find my emotional balance, and finally cracked it. Now, I try to live my life from a place of balance, where my rest state is ‘pleasant’. I don’t have to be delighted all the time, but nor should I be devastated all the time. Just being pleasant is lovely.

    For me, I want to be more consistent at moving more. I don’t like to call it exercise, because that makes me feel discouraged right from the start. But if it’s just moving more, that could be a hardcore house cleaning session, or a crazy dance session to my Best of the 80’s soundtrack, as well as a workout.

  12. Yael Santo 8 years ago

    i am SO glad i read this today. i have this problem with remembering that success comes with hard work – i often find myself wondering how certain people got certain places in their lives… i never saw the effort they put in, only the results.

    this is something i need to remember when i feel jealousy springing up for other peoples’ “lucky” breaks, and for my own life.

  13. Anonymous 8 years ago

    Short bursts, that’s me. I like to tell myself that it’s because I have a lot of crap to juggle, but it’s not so. I do have a reasonably large amount of crap to juggle, but I can definitely set out an hour a day to things that I want to be most successful at.

    Hold me accountable for acting and blogging, please.

    Additionally, I’m so glad I’ve rediscovered your blog.  It’s crackin’. I’m in love with your no BS approach.

  14. CamelsAndChocolate 8 years ago

    As someone who has a job that people think is a “dream job” (and also “that anyone can do”) I cannot like this post hard enough. I’ve been working in journalism since I was 14–over half my life now!–and the benefits did not start paying off until a couple years ago. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like today’s generation thinks everything should be awarded to them by a quick click of a button and is less inclined to work hard for success like previous generations.

  15. Fiona Phillips 8 years ago

    “Let the daily habit of working towards your goal be your motivation reminder.” 
    This is a truly brilliant line!  For me, starting up my business, even the definition of success is wrapped up in that line.   Success for me is not necessarily an ‘end point’ as such but having the passion and motiviation daily to work hard at it (one step at a time), do my best, kick goals, climb mountains, enjoy it and above all feel proud for all that.  It’s an internal yardstick, and motivator not external and I genuinely believe the rest will naturally follow. 
    You summed it up in that fantastic one-liner!  Absolutely love it!
    I think when you love what you do, when you’re genuinely driven and motivated because of that, you’re well equipped for the curly drawing! 
    p.s. Love those images – they really do say it all! 
    Thanks for a great article!

  16. Mary Joy Sanchez 7 years ago

    I am always motivated… i know success is the result of everything i did and will do.. and therefore I can say… i am succeeding every time i fulfilled a task no matter how simple or little it was….   

  17. Emma 6 years ago

    I’m the queen of short bursts. I actually got a break this year and will be doing what I love for 3 months full time. I never practise enough, I don’t work every day at being a singer but I have been handed an opportunity and better late than never to start working the way I should have worked my whole life. I work really hard but not consistently. I need to find ways to motivate myself.

  18. Melissa Walker Horn 6 years ago

    Over the past couple of years consistent has become my middle name. GREAT post lady. I love it very much.

  19. Simon 3 years ago

    I find you have to keep all the plates spinning – even if they’re only spinning slowly…
    Social media accounts seem to increase workload as they all need maintaining and can take considerable thought to keep interesting and relevant to readers.

    I’ve started to section my work into allotted sessions to get the most out of my time – ie. an hour on something I loathe, like accounts, before I get to do something more interesting for a bit. It seems to keep me motivated.


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