How to Achieve Overnight Success

Jun 26, 2024

Jun 26, 2024

Jun 26, 2024

By Sam Szuchan

By Sam Szuchan

By Sam Szuchan

You can have overnight success…

…you just have to be willing to put in months and/or years of work first.

That’s a sacrifice most people aren’t willing to make, though; they want all of the reward and none of the work required to get it

And don’t get me wrong—I’m a very, very big “work smarter, not harder person.” There are just some things that don’t have shortcuts.

Overnight success is very achievable … it just requires tons of buildup.

A prime example is MrBeast, who, if you don’t know, is the largest YouTuber in the world.

I remember his rise to stardom around 2019 when he started stacking millions upon millions of subscribers like nobody’s business. To those not paying attention, it was a textbook overnight success.

But his “overnight” success was actually preceded by years upon years of buildup, of posting mostly dud videos until he gradually started to find a rhythm, and the results started coming in.

So, in this newsletter, I’m going to teach you how to create your own overnight success. Specifically, I’m going to teach you the patterns of behavior you need to adopt to become exceptional in any given pursuit.

If you want to excel in your studies, if you want to start a business, a YouTube channel, whatever—these principles are all universally applicable to the pursuit of greatness in any given medium.

1. Create an anti-goal

In whatever goal I’m pursuing, I’ve always found it very helpful to have an inverse version of it that emphasizes the negative outcome of failing to pursue it rather than just focusing on the positive outcome of achieving it.

For example, having an anti-goal for exercising is what finally got me to go to the gym consistently.

I never felt extremely compelled to build some sort of incredible Greek statue physique. But the lethargy, low self-esteem, and general health issues accompanying being out of shape DID motivate me.

I very much didn’t want those things, so I started showing up every day.

The reason this is so effective is the human mind naturally focuses on negative information much more intensely than positive information as a survival mechanism.

This is why putting yourself in a situation where you can’t afford to fail is so effective—because your mind is focused on what will happen if you DON’T succeed and works urgently to avoid that.

MrBeast—the person I cited earlier as an example of “overnight success,” had a very intense “no going back” attitude towards YouTube.

Around the time he started getting his first viral videos, he hadn’t been attending school because he was too busy making YouTube videos all day. It was literally his only tangible career prospect—he had to get it right.

And while I don’t recommend that sort of reckless behavior — the principle of the thing is undeniable.

When you have anti-goals — when you’re acutely aware of what happens to you if you DON’T succeed — you operate with a whole new level of urgency.

2. Curate your environment

Your environment may genuinely be the most significant factor in determining your success.

Specifically, there are two key environmental factors for growth:

  1. Living in an environment that nudges toward good decisions

  2. Surrounding oneself with people who normalize the new behavior

Because your environment shapes behavior in numerous small ways. For example:

Unhealthy food around the house makes you much more likely to eat unhealthy

A big, comfy couch in front of a big TV encourages watching/playing video games

A treadmill by the window encourages daily exercise

You get the picture—the ideal environment effortlessly supports your goals.

The litmus test for determining whether or not your environment is helping you is one simple question:

“Am I fighting my environment, or is it making it effortless to pursue my goals?”

An example from my life: I currently live in a quiet part of Bangkok, near an office park/mall hybrid that serves as an excellent co-working space.

It’s got just enough to do that I don’t go crazy but not too much that I get distracted.

I essentially wake up and work in different places in the mall all day, with the occasional trip here and there (I just got back from a five-day trip to Japan). There’s almost zero temptation to do otherwise.

3. Play to your strengths

This may seem somewhat obvious, but you should only commit your time to things you’re actually capable of succeeding in.

Your capacity to excel in a given area is generally defined by…

  1. Your physical or mental ability to succeed in it on a technical level

  2. Your actual interest in it as a concept

Your innate capacity to succeed in something gets you in the door, but your passion is what gives you room to excel. There could never be a Mozart who hated music or an Einstein who hated physics.

Lately, I’ve been investing a ton of time into my YouTube channel. I’m pleased to say that it’s beginning to bear fruit — I’ve just passed 1,000 subscribers, and one of my videos has over 20,000 views.

But what’s intriguing is that while YouTube has represented a massive amount of work for me, it’s not been a “grind.” Specifically, it hasn’t been a lot of work I’ve dreaded — I quite enjoy it.

This enjoyment for me is a strength, since it allows me to invest much more work into the project than others are realistically capable of. By playing into YouTube, I am playing into a strength of mine.

4. Relentlessly audit your life

Your life is like a bedroom: no matter how organized you are, it’ll inevitably require cleaning and re-organizing due to the natural chaos of being human.

And when you’re pursuing a specific long-goal, this principle is extra important. In order to enable consistent progress towards something, you have to have a lifestyle that compliments consistency.

The antidote to the chaos here is auditing:

  • Audit every activity you do and why — identify goals you unconsciously adopted from others

  • Any pursuit you can't justify as your own conscious choice in pursuit of the goal (and life as a whole) that you want to realize is a distraction draining your energy

  • Eliminate activities, relationships, and influences shaping a lifestyle you don't truly want

Intentionally eliminating interruptions like this is the most natural, sustainable solution to the chaotic nature of life and living. By paying close attention to bad habits as they appear, you can eliminate them before they gain critical mass in your life.

What overnight success actually looks like

Outside of winning the literal lottery, there are no true “overnight successes.” There are successful people whose journey you are aware of, and those you are not.

However, there can certainly be a short period of time in which the fruits of your labor start manifesting quickly. This can be your 50th YouTube video going viral, the 46th prospect you DM’d converting into a client or selling out a cohort to an audience you’ve built over years.

But no matter when or what the realization looks like, there’s one inevitable part of that happening you can’t escape from: hard work.

Hard work is the needle mover. Our goals may define our direction, but hard work takes us places.

I dearly hope you achieve “overnight success.”

But I equally hope you’re ready to put in the work necessary to do so.

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