I was out for a run (slash walk/jog/sprint depending on my mood) this morning, when another jogger overtook me. As she ran by, she complimented me on my pace. I answered with an, “Oh my, I am so SLOW”” because that’s exactly how I felt. Like a slug. And her response was, coupled with the pointing of her hand, “Forward is forward.” And I started thinking about her words as I continued on my way. That’s really the truth, isn’t it, no matter what part of our life we are discussing. As long as we are moving forward, we are making progress. And when we get stuck, all we need to do is take a step. One at a time, and we will get to where we want to go. For example:
What if you’re hating your career? You’ve been there for a long time, though, and you can’t leave. You’re stuck. Your 401K is building up, you have kids reaching college age, your wife and/or husband isn’t making enough money to carry the family. You are in a day-after-day swamp of drudgery and unhappiness and it’ll be years before you are ever in a spot to do something new.
Well, maybe so, but maybe not. Is there something specific you would like to do in the future? Is there another business that’s been nibbling around the edges of your mind? Have you always wanted to be a (fill in the blank)? But you’re sure you couldn’t make enough money doing that. Or for whatever other reason it simply won’t work.
What can it hurt to just take a step? That could be something as simple as doing some research to see if that business might work for you in the future. Buy a book at lunchtime today about the possible career. Call one person who does that job now, and make an appointment to pick their brain. Spend a half hour online tonight reading whatever you can about how to get started in that job. Pull up your financial records of your 401K and see how much is in there, and start tracking your expenses to see if maybe you could swing it. Just do one thing today. Then one thing tomorrow.
You might find out you really cannot do something now, but you can start planning for the future when it’s a better time. That will at least move you forward in terms of your excitement about the future. Or you might find out that what’s holding you back is not the 401K, family needs, college requirements, but your own fear of change, in which case that little step to move forward is actually a big one.
Or perhaps you are unhappy in a current relationship, whether it’s a relationship with a significant other or perhaps a family member. You’ve been putting off thinking about it, because doing anything at all will be so messy. Maybe things will straighten themselves out without any help from you. Perhaps the husband who doesn’t want to have children, while you do want to, will change his mind. Maybe the brother who has been pushing you away for years will all of a sudden come around. Or perhaps somehow the girlfriend who is totally driving you nuts and is really not right for you will change. If you just maintain the status quo, all will be well.
Well, I hate to point it out, but people don’t change unless they want to. If the status quo is making you unhappy now, it won’t just fix itself. And if the status quo is fine for the other person, they have no impetus to change. So you’re going to be in the exact same place five years from now. Except you will be even more frustrated with yourself. That doesn’t sound like a great use of your time.
The one forward movement today could be just to allow yourself to think about it. What would make YOUR life better? What do you really want? Do you want this specific person to still be in your life? If yes, do you know how to improve things? Maybe you need to think about how to have a heart-to-heart talk with that person. Or maybe you need to talk to some like-minded friends to see what kinds of suggestions they might have. Perhaps you need to grab a sheet of paper and pen and develop a pro/con list. If you’ve been thinking about this for ages anyway, and you know you need to move on but you’ve been afraid to do so, do it. Your one step could be moving in a direction that will make you happy.
I don’t think any of us will ever stop wanting to improve something about ourselves. Whether it’s our weight, health, knowledge, confidence, skills, or something else, there’s always “a thing.” The same as anything else, just move forward. Last year I decided to stop eating dessert for a short time frame. Well, the weird thing was I found out I no longer wanted sweets. And it’s more than a year later and I still haven’t had any. What does this have to do with moving forward? Everything! I wanted to lose weight. Cutting out sweets helped me do that. More than a year later, and I haven’t gained the weight back, and I still don’t want the sweets. I just took the first step, and other amazing things followed.
Do you want to go back to school but don’t know how you can squeeze it in? Or do you want to become a piano virtuoso but at the moment you just know how to play scales? Do you want to be able to go for a run without huffing and puffing? Maybe you want to quit smoking. Is there anything you have been thinking about but you haven’t made progress? Just go forward. Do one thing today. One thing tomorrow. If you don’t have success one day, that’s okay. Try again the next day. Moving is the important thing.
Obviously the comments of that jogger who zipped by me this morning got my brain going! As she said, “Forward is forward.” It’s really that simple. Anything we need to do with our lives, or want to do with our lives, will be a little bit closer if we just move forward. Today. Do it.