Still Waiting for Your Breakthrough Moment? Author of The Happiness Project Says “Enjoy the Process”

Napoleon Hill, in his classic work, Think & Grow Rich, wrote that on the path to success, “Persistence is key. You will have temporary defeats. That’s a given. But don’t give up.”

He went on to say that,

“Most of us are good ‘starters’ but poor ‘finishers’ of everything we begin. The persistent person discovers that ‘Old Man Failure’ finally becomes tired and goes away. Failure cannot cope with persistence.

Good words.

But how do you persist? How do you overcome — or prevent — the fatigue and frustration that can derail your journey?

I asked Gretchen Rubin, author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller, The Happiness Project, about that on Friday afternoon… with emerging speakers and authors in mind (and even those who are established, but have their sights set on the “next level”).

The Happiness Project BookGretchen has achieved the success that many speakers and authors dream of:

  • her book hit #1 just weeks after its release
  • it remained at #1 for several weeks
  • it’s remained on the list in one form or another for roughly 25 weeks (the paperback version sits at #8 right now)
  • the book is now more than a book — it’s a global movement, with Happiness Project groups springing up around the world, hundreds of book discussion groups forming, and rights for more than 32 foreign editions being sold
  • she has over 55,000 people on her newsletter list, over 44,000 Facebook fans, and over 40,000 Twitter followers

Sounds great, right? Another story of overnight success. Right? Wrong.

You may have heard that it takes 10 years to become an overnight success…

Well, Gretchen’s first book was published in 2001. The Happiness Project, her fourth book, was published in late 2009 and hit #1 on the NYT bestseller list in January 2010. Pretty close.

And even that one book wasn’t born overnight. It was almost six years ago when Gretchen first got the idea to start her own happiness project, and a little bit later when the book idea was born.

So, needless to say, she persisted.

That’s why I wanted to ask her, “What advice would you give to other speakers or authors who are still waiting for their breakthrough moment?”

Here’s what she said:

“You can’t hold out for the big finish. Not all of my books found an audience like The Happiness Project, but all of my books were such a joy to write — for me — that I wouldn’t undo them. Enjoy the process. A lot of things are outside your control and you won’t always get what you want or even deserve. Banking your happiness on hitting the bestseller list or some of these other external goals is very risky.”

I’ll have more from Gretchen next week — about how she keeps up with her blog, newsletter, Facebook page and more — but for this week, I encourage you to persist, and perhaps to ask yourself:

Are you enjoying the process?

[sws_yellow_box box_size=”600″]Learn more about Gretchen Rubin and The Happiness Project by visiting, and if you’d like to bring some extra happiness into your life, I encourage you to buy her book, subscribe to her blog, or sign up for her monthly newsletter by emailing her with “newsletter” in the subject line. [/sws_yellow_box]

3 Comments on “Still Waiting for Your Breakthrough Moment? Author of The Happiness Project Says “Enjoy the Process”

John Zimmer
September 6, 2011 at 11:07 am

A nice post, Shawn, with some simple, concrete advice.


September 11, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Really great article, worth the read many times over !

September 15, 2011 at 11:44 am

Thanks, guys – glad you enjoyed it!

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