An ancient Chinese philosopher and writer, Lao-Tzu, known as the reputed author of the Tao Te Ching, and founder of philosophical Taoism, wrote these wise words: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
What exactly does this mean to me as a New Year has dawned? As I look at what lies ahead in the New Year, as I set my goals and ambitions, I feel overwhelmed with the mountains I anticipate climbing.
I sit down and ponder on all I wish to achieve, all the projects and milestones set for me at my place of work. I think about my personal goals. All of which appear, at the start, to be insurmountable. Then I remind myself of what Lao-Tzu said. Everything we wish to achieve in life begins with the first step.
That first step is the beginning of action. Without action we will never start moving towards our goals. It doesn’t matter how small the task or goal is, we have to take action. If we wish to drink a glass of water we must take action – walking to the tap is the start, is taking the first step.
Often I fall into the trap of analysis-paralysis. I become so overwhelmed with what lies ahead that I hesitate to take that first step. I’m afraid of the journey and what it may hold. But without taking that first step I will not start to move forward. Without taking that first step I will miss the opportunity to grow, to accomplish goals, to turn my dreams into tangible reality.
So what do I do?
I’ve come to the conclusion that by procrastinating that first step I immediately stop my growth, halt my action and doom myself to failure. What do I fear more – failure or the journey? I am terrified of failure thus my only alternative is to overcome my fear of the journey.
How do I overcome this fear?
Before I take the first step I need to know where my destination is. I write this down in a detailed and descriptive manner. It is not enough to say to myself I want to be successful this year. I need to describe how exactly I’m going measure what I consider “successful” to be. Once I have clearly defined my destination I need to plot the route I’m going to take in order to arrive at my destination. Unfortunately Google maps isn’t much help, nor is my standard GPS. I need to discover my own internal GPS. As I look at my destination I need to identify my waypoints, my landmarks, to help me navigate to my destination. These are the smaller goals and tasks I need to accomplish in order to arrive at my final destination. These landmarks make my journey less frightening and more manageable. As I identify my waypoints I am able to plot a more specific route to take in order to get to each marker on my journey. By breaking down my final goal into smaller chunks the final destination appears to be more attainable.
The end result is a clear map to follow on my journey. This aids me in not losing my way and getting lost on the journey. Should I stray from the path I have a map to refer back to so I can get back on track, gain perspective, and take the next step forward in the right direction.
Having said all of the above, my journey must still begin with that first, single step. I muster up the courage and take that step but firmly have my destination set before me.
Yours in lifelong learning,