One Step at a Time
You are positioned at the bottom of a remarkable slope. Up the mountain you can see fully shaped trees with leaves bathed in sunshine, edges of stone looking to be held onto and birds soaring about admiring the horizon. You think to yourself how lovely it would be to find yourself on top of that landscape looking out at the world and soaking in all its beauty. The feeling of such an accomplishment becomes overwhelmingly positive and you’re feeling inspired.
Suddenly your brain starts to switch its thought from inspiration of achieving something great to the fear of failure. The work to climb such a substantial peak seems unbearable and out of reach. “That looks like a lot of steps.” “ It’s pretty high.” “What if the sun sets before I get to the top.” “They’re might be obstacles in the way.”
At first glance these questions appear overwhelming and ultimately unattainable. But they’re actually designed to help us. What if we change the narrative a bit? “How does one train to take so many steps?” “How should I prepare my journey in order to finish during daylight?” “What plans can I put in place to overcome obstacles?” Now we can develop a plan to break down this goal into smaller attainable ones.
These mountains, challenges, obstacles and moments of adversity are there to help us grow to be even stronger, smarter, more adaptable and ultimately the best version of ourselves. I want to remind you that instead of letting our goals scare us, we need to plan them out and take one step at a time in order to enjoy their benefits.
Let’s make this a little more practical in our daily lives. As a physical therapist, I am frequently challenging patients to practice their home exercise program outside of the clinic. After demonstrating selected exercises, I educate them on the purpose of the chosen exercises and the benefits of performing them regularly. At their next visit I ask how they’ve done with their exercises since I saw them last and their responses are usually something to the effect of “I didn’t have time,” “It was painful,” “I lost my instructions,” etc. If you’ve been to physical therapy in the past this may all sound familiar.
I’m here to say, these comments are all OKAY. This stimulates a great discussion and reminds me that we need to start with the first step. Identifying barriers to our goals is part of the process. In this example, we will stick with “lack of time” as our barrier.
Once we identify the barrier we can move on to the next step. Step two is brain storming solutions. This might look like, waking up 10 minutes early to practice. Or setting an alarm for the same time each day as a reminder to work toward our goal. Breaking the task up into smaller time components and scattering them throughout the day can also be helpful when negotiating time management. These are all examples of ideas we can try to overcome time as an obstacle for working toward our goal.
Third step: implementing solutions. Just like that, we are already three steps into our journey. Once we’ve started using some of the solutions we identified, it is time to reflect on whether those choices have been effective. Boom! Step four! Then once we’ve discovered a solution that works it’s time to make it a habit. Make sure this solution is addressed each day and remember that each time it is performed, it counts as another step forward. Most goals are not achieved over night and it takes deliberate steps and consistent effort to accomplish them. So be patient with yourself and congratulate each step forward.
One thing I would like to remind you of, is the more often you pursue things that are difficult the stronger you become and the easier each challenge will start to seem. In other words, although life might throw obstacles in your way that appear challenging you will develop strength and strategies over time to help you endure them. Take one step at a time. This reassurance can help motivate you when finding it difficult to continue to work to meet your goal. Remember that each journey to a new accomplishment will make you stronger and more prepared for the next one. I hope this helps and inspires you to start a new challenge or keep making progress toward your current one.