The Power of Time: What 5 Years Can Accomplish

The Power of 5 Years

When I first joined my company as employee #3, we had pipe dreams for the future of our business:

  • We imagined crushing the next year or two and selling our company for big bucks.
  • We imagined becoming such a well known brand that everyone on the street knew our name.
  • We imagined how quick and easy our path would be.

Boy, were we imagining! Absolutely none of that happened.

As an entrepreneur, it’s very easy dream up a rosy future. Your imagination runs wild, and you dream of building something bigger than yourself. You literally warp reality in your head to survive the day-to-day.

But nothing good is ever as easy as you imagine. It’s always harder. And it always takes longer.

Yet, it is not impossible. The main issue with these dreams are that you envision it on a shortened time scale.

Great things don’t take 1 year to build. They don’t take 2 years. No, most great things take 5 year to build!

Hard Work Does Pay Off, But It’ll Take Longer Than You Think

So no, none of the above dreams of success happened with my company in the first few years.

We tried selling the business after just a few short years, but we had no real profit to sell on.

Unlike the movies and the media’s portrayal of silicon valley, overnight success doesn’t happen.

  • We grinded.
  • We kept at it.
  • We built slowly.
  • Very slowly.

Brick by brick we laid the groundwork for what would eventually be a successful exit.

And it took 5 years.

Then I stayed on in corporate America for another 5 years.

I had envisioned us continuing to grow the business and grow it 10x. And we did!

But it took 5 more years.

So you see. A lot can happen in 5 years.

Let’s explore some other examples…

5 Years of Investing

5 years of investing $10K per year will build a portfolio of $57,507.

It doesn’t sounds like much at first.

But if you didn’t invest a penny more, and left your $57,507 for 30 years, you’ll end up with $437,757 (at 7% annual return).

THAT is the power of 5.

5 Years of 401(k)

This goes for your 401(k) -> especially your 401(k).

Because maxing out your 401(k) for 5 years is a wealth hack.

I know, because I’ve done it!

I didn’t have a retirement account until we sold our business. But from that point on, I wanted to supercharge my future.

I maxed it out, taking advantage of the company match too.

In 5 years, I went from a 401(k) with $0 to $250K.

THAT is the power of 5.

5 Years of Blogging

We’ve already talked about this a bit above.

Even knowing what I know, I still thought in my head that I could build a huge personal finance blog in a year.

Well, I just celebrated 2 years of blogging.

I think I’ve done a pretty dang good job, but I am nowhere near a top personal finance blog in terms of traffic.

But how could I? Financial Samurai start in 2009. Mr. Money Mustache and JL Collins have both been blogging since 2011.

It takes time to build an audience.

1 year is only enough to just get going. But 5 years on the other hand, is enough to really build something meaningful .

THAT is the power of 5.

5 Years of Career

When you first start your career, you are green as can be.

You probably no absolutely nothing (even if you think you do).

Early on, you want to say “yes” to as much as possible.

When your boss asks if you know how to build a website. You say “yes,” and then you go and figure it out.

When a fellow employee asks for help on a project, you say “yes,” no matter how busy you are.

In 5 years you’ll have developed a reputation for being a team player, you’ll have gotten raises, and most likely a promotion.

But most of all, you’ll have gone from someone who knows near nothing, to someone who knows a ton about your industry and job.

THAT is the power of 5.

5 Years of Business

We already talked a bit about my business.

But this applies to any business.

When you start a business, you can, and should have pipe dreams and believe that you can build your business in a year or two.

But the reality is that it going to take 5 years at least -> probably even 10 years.

So you should think to yourself. Am I willing to commit 5 year to this? Do I love this business enough to keep it going for 5 years?

I think that can also help ensure that it is something you are truly passionate about working on.

And yet, if you stick with your business for 5 years, and power through the various ups and downs, I can guarantee you’ll have built something great.

THAT is the power of 5.


As you can see by now, 1 years isn’t the right time frame to measure any success by.

It takes time to build great things. Years of effort with many failures along the way.

And it might even take more than 5 years. But that is ok too. Let it marinate.

No matter what you are trying to accomplish financially or professionally…just remember: give it time.

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  1. I always knew you were twice as good as me! It took me the better part of ten years to get my first big time promotion and another ten after that to be running the company. I’m just a power of ten guy, but I admire you power of fives! And I love your point, one year isn’t enough for a meaningful metric. Five, or in my case, ten years is when you can look back and really see your progress. And that is very hard to understand when you are in your twenties.

    1. Agreed. Heck even in the things I accomplished in 5 years, you’re right the major impact was truly after 10 years.

      And this is also very, very hard to see when you are in your twenties, and especially nowadays when you can see people becoming “successful” in what seems like no time if they go viral online.

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