As we grow older and enjoy (or suffer through) more life experiences, it seems that the occasions for us to take a moment and think about what we’ve learned and how we learned it come more often. Father’s Day is certainly one such occasion and it makes me think about one of the most important life lessons I learned from my father. That lesson was about putting fear and discouragement aside and staying focused on moving ahead towards my goal – whatever it was – a step at a time.
There are many, many clichés for this lesson or related ideas, from the “every journey begins with a single step” to “don’t bite off more than you can chew” and on to having “eyes too big for your stomach”. The idea is, of course, that there are limits on what we can handle and trying to overdo or being put off from doing are both undesirable ends.
In life there are many times when what you feel you need to get done or handle seems overwhelmingly difficult, large, uncontrollable, painful or otherwise just too much. You consider the job ahead, and if you’ve had some experience with the idea, you might either think that it will be easy because, after all, you’ve done it before or that it will be difficult because you’ve learned how tough it can be. In most cases it is likely neither of these and is doable with sufficient time, effort, and luck. Sure, we want it – whatever “it” is – to be easy and done quickly, but that is not how life usually works. (Now, there’s a life lesson for you).
The incremental approach, taking each step as it comes and making sure we do it right, will move us forward a lot faster than we might think. All too often, folks look at the task ahead and the size and distance of that ending goal is so large and far away that we just put it off and do not get started. You know what that means: you never get there. The approach that I learned was to get some perspective on what I wanted to get done and to take manageable steps to get there. You can, too.