The phrase “Rome was not built in a day” is fine and actually helpful when it’s used to promote patience and long-term thinking. That’s innocent enough and I have no issues saying it or hearing it.
But where this phrase is used incorrectly is when people throw it around to promote laziness and procrastination. In this context, it’s misleading and debilitating to productivity.
For example, when you’re writing with a day job, your self-talk may often reference this phrase because you’re tired and want to push off writing for tomorrow. That would make sense, right?
It took time to build Rome, and it takes time to write your book, so you might as well take the day off. But let’s consider the other part of building the Roman Empire.
Sure it took not days but centuries to build the Roman Empire to its entirety. However, the Romans were expanding the empire and laying bricks every single day. The Roman Empire didn’t get to its legendary status by being passive and agreeing that good things take time, so they sat and waited for time to catch up to their goals.
Instead they did the opposite. The military actively conquered cities, the government developed laws and regulations, workers laid bricks to build structures, and the Romans continued to progress from small, to medium size, to arguably the greatest empire the world’s ever known.
The next time someone adds to the procrastinator mentality that you can do it tomorrow or next week with the misinterpretation of the phrase, “Rome was not built in a day,” please punch them in the face for me.
Just kidding. But do tell them that the Romans worked every day to build the empire, so they’re misusing that phrase.
Take Small Actions For Your Book
Good things, like the Roman Empire and your book, do take time. But this doesn’t give you a free pass to procrastinate.
Don’t go months telling people, “I’m writing a book,” when you’ve never sat down to dedicate consistent time and energy to make progress.
You don’t learn how to get rid of writer’s block, how to write a book, how to edit a book, and how to self publish a book by saying, “Oh, I don’t feel like it today. I’ll do it tomorrow. Rome wasn’t built in a day after all.”
You make progress and improve by saying, “I’m going to do what I can today, with the hope that I’ll get better tomorrow and the next day, until I eventually become an author.”
And over time your words turn into sentences, sentences transform into paragraphs, and paragraphs become chapters. And with enough chapters, you have a book to your name.
People reach goals, especially writing goals, through small actions day after day.
From a daily viewpoint, each writing session won’t look like much in the grand scheme of things.
But when you continue to write each day, eventually you’ll have a book to show for your hard work. And becoming an author can help you accomplish other feats like building a six-figure online business. And then who knows where your empire expands to after that.
But all this potential isn’t possible if you’re not faithful in the daily actions over time.
So to stop procrastinating and take small actions each day to write your book, follow these three steps:
- Pick a specific time to write for 60 minutes each day, no matter if you have to wake up early, write during lunch, or write before bed.
- Actually write during that hour and don’t let a phrase about Rome or anything else stop you.
- Get a friend, significant other, or family member to ask you if you met your reading goals each week.
Dreams don’t come to you. And they can seem impossible from a distance.
But when you take daily actions toward your dreams by continuing to do what’s next, anything is possible—including building your own Roman empire.
Do you agree or disagree with me that “Rome was not built in a day” is misused for procrastination? What self-talk do you say that increases or decreases your motivation to write?