One foot in front of the other, repeat. Moving forward isn’t difficult to imagine but it can be hard to accomplish. When I head out for a run in the morning, I am full of enthusiasm and energy but after a few hundred feet, my brain starts telling my body all the reasons that I should turn around and go home. ” you are too tired” ” you didn’t eat breakfast yet”,” you don’t have water”,” Your knee is sore”, ” you are working too hard”. This goes on for about 3 kilometers. At about 12 minutes, the naysayer’s brain becomes quiet and I am in a rhythm that allows me to clock miles while disposing of unwanted and unneeded baggage in my head.
” The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, then starting on the first one.” ~ Mark Twain
If I have a project that isn’t literally bipedal motion, I still need to move it forward step by step. As a destination focused person, I struggle with the incrementalism of this approach but can attest to some monumental failures when I tried to get ahead of the next action without taking the previous. Even when I reverse engineer a plan, for myself or a client, I then need to begin at 1 and move through 2,3,4, … to 123,124 …
Following each measured step can be monotonous but I have learned that it is the most efficient and more often, I discover that there are multiple stems that could be tried and I get to make more informed decisions at each juncture. There have been many times that this one-step-after-another process has lead me to an as yet unimagined possibility and ultimately to a different and better destination.
This has occurred so often that I am now treating each stage of the journey as a mini destination. The running metaphor runs out of steam at this point but I confess that there have been times where I had gone too far and needed to coax myself along with the mantra ” you can stop and walk in 100 more steps” and then I have slowed and walked and said ” you will start running again in 100 steps”. Luckily I have never needed to go on full out repeat of that set but it is a good reminder that setting small goals that lead to bigger ones can be motivating and reduce the paralysis of being overwhelmed.
The final benefit of methodical forward motion is that you eventually reach the destination; maybe not where you thought you would be or on the schedule you expected, but you get there. Finishing a marathon in 3 hours is a whopping big goal but finishing a marathon is still an amazing accomplishment. And the best thing about reaching your destination is the feeling of achievement that goes with it.
Step up today and step out. Stretch out your leg and put your foot down, lift up your other leg and do it again. Who knows where you might end up.