The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu says, ” the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. ” It takes great courage to take that first step, to embark on a new adventure where the destination is not guaranteed, but you know what else takes a whole lot of chutzpah? Continuing on the journey when you’re tired, when you’re discouraged, when you’re fearful, when you doubt, when you messed up, when you wonder if all the hard work will pay off. Any of this sound familiar?
Although the initial step is a leap into the great unknown, a lot of people can start, but who has the fortitude to finish? A matter of fact, we may even be able to keep going at a good pace for a while, but journey’s can be lengthy, they may even have detours along the way. What happens then? Do you throw in the towel and call it quits? Perhaps, sabotage your progress? Sit down and throw a fit? Berate yourself for not doing it better, faster, smarter? All options for your choosing and I believe I have tried each one multiple times. Guess what? Not a good way to go. Here is what I’ve been learning…
1. The way you talk to you matters. That tape that plays in your head, make sure its stating truth and encouragement. I have never been inspired to change my ways, improve myself or become more, by hating myself, putting myself down or telling myself what I was not capable of. If you can’t begin by speaking truth and life-giving words to yourself, at least tell the negative committee that meets in your head to sit down and shut up. The more you train your mind to focus on truth, the old tapes will be erased and some beautiful new tunes will begin to play in your heart and mind.
2. Failure is inevitable. Uugghh, I don’t like this one. I still struggle with it. I want life to be pretty, not messy. I want things to go according to plan. I want smooth sailing and to arrive at my destination unscathed. But, what I’ve found is I’m not living in reality! Life is not perfect and I am certainly not perfect, so the combination will most certainly involve some failure. What I do with that failure along the journey says more about me than the fact that I’m not perfect. Failure is not final, unless you and I choose to stay there.
3. Break it down. Sometimes the mountain in front of us seems too big and the road too long. I find from time to time I can get so overwhelmed that I just want to sit down and give up. So, instead, of letting the bigness of the end goal paralyze me, I try to always have a goal marker in front of me. Another milestone I can check off along the journey. It may take a while to reach my final destination, but being able to break it down and take note of the progress along the way is encouraging and keeps me focused on one step at a time instead of the whole kitandkaboodle at once. It helps what may seem insurmountable start to feel doable.
4. Intense focus is required. A half-hearted committment to anything does not yield ideal results. Razor sharp focus is required to reach the end zone. Obstacles may get in your way, but your eyes must remained fixed on the prize. Remind yourself often, why you wanted this. What are the benefits? Why will it be worth all the sacrifice when you cross the finish line and grab the trophy? We all have obligations, I would love to quit my job and focus full-time on reaching my goals, however, my bill collectors may not understand. There, however, are many “obligations” we have taken on in life that are not required commitments. Strip away the things that take your focus off your dreams and goals. This may involve letting go of who you spend your time with and what you spend your time doing. Some of these changes may be hard to make, but it takes immense energy to maintain sustained focus and effort in one direction. Don’t let side bar distractions and drainers keep you from moving toward your desired destination. Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, those that will fight with you and for you when you feel weak. You must be willing to make decisions that support your need to focus on the goal in front of you. Keep your eye on the prize!
5. Enjoy the journey. This is another toughy for me. Simply getting the job done is usually at the forefront of my mind and I don’t tend to pause long enough to look around and enjoy the moment. Only problem is, I am missing out on the life God has given me, when I live in this mindset. If it’s all about the final outcome then I am failing to live today, to feel today, with all of its blessings. What am I learning along the way? Who am I meeting along the way? I am beginning to realize that once I reach the “final destination”, there will be another mountain to climb, so why not begin learning how to enjoy the climb itself. It’s alright to party along the way as well as at the grand finale, a matter of fact it makes the ride a lot more enjoyable!
I recently had a friend share a quote, that for me, spoke right to the heart of the perseverance required on a life changing journey.
“Success – it’s a little like wrestling a gorilla. You don’t quit when you’re tired. You quit when the gorilla is tired.” – Robert Strauss
So to all of you weary wrestlers, one step in front of the other. If you have a dream in your heart, keep moving. If you have an addiction you are trying to kick and it keeps holding on, give freedom another go. If you are wanting to transform your life, keep plugging away. Each step in the right direction adds up and pretty soon, we look back and see how far we’ve come. Keep moving. don’t give up when victory is right around the corner. Just take another step and another step and another step…You got this!