Taking the First Step: Accomplishing Big Goals with Tiny Steps
Posted Apr 24 2009 11:14pm
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
~ Lao-tzu, Chinese philosopher
Last week I announced that I had joined Weight Watchers (again) and the very first meeting was just the inspirational boost I needed. Our topic at the meeting was setting goals for increased movement in our lives. We were all given a sheet of paper on which we were to list an exercise goal that we wanted to achieve. The facilitator called that goal our “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!” moment. She sang the “Ahhhhhhhhh” out like an opera star! She explained that she wanted us to think of something that we would really love to shout out that we had achieved. Something that would make us feel like singing! Some put down things like “I want to walk in a 10K walk” or “I want to exercise in some form every day.” Then she asked us to think of 10 smaller steps that we would have to go through to actually get to that “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh” goal. People shared their steps to success, and some of the beginning steps seemed very small, almost insignificant. For instance, our facilitator said she ultimately wanted to change up her exercise routine by using the many videos she had bought for variety but had never taken the cellophane wrapper off them! So, her first step was get the new video off the shelf. Her second step was take the wrapper off the case. Then she stated she would put the video in the player. We all laughed as she broke it down that way, but honestly she admitted, “So far, I have gotten it off the shelf and put it closer to the TV.” She’s one step closer to her ultimate goal. The video won’t ever just magically get off the shelf, unwrap itself and jump into her video player on its own. They’re all little steps to making a change, and each one is important and invaluable!
That’s what Lao Tzu meant when he said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. We can’t magically jump from where we are a thousand miles to where we want to be. We have to do it step by step. There is no other way. And the first step is always to just begin. I have been thinking about, first of all, not gaining back all the weight I lost two years ago. Thinking about it doesn’t get me very far, though. In fact, just thinking about it has allowed me time to gain some of that lost weight back again! And even though I began a hundred different times to get started on losing more weight, I found that I can’t just stop with the first beginning step. I have to take the second step and the third and the thousandth. I have to keep on, step by step, on the journey to my goal. I’d like to stick with Weight Watchers this time until I actually reach my goal weight and become a life time member. Wow. That seems so far away, so many pounds away. But I’ve taken the first step: I joined Weight Watchers again. I can’t reach my life time membership if I never join! What’s the saying? You can’t win if you don’t play the game. So, that’s great. I took the first step, and then each and every day since last Thursday, I have taken the next step and the next on my journey by eating less and moving more. And if I keep stepping along one by one, eventually I’ll get there. The only way I can’t get there is if I quit stepping.
So, on the journey of a thousand miles to becoming a lifetime member of Weight Watchers should I focus on the end result? Yes, to an extent. I need to know where I’m going or I’ll get off the path and end up somewhere else. However, I also need to focus most of my attention on taking each step along the way. If I get too focused on the end result, I’m liable to think the journey is too long and give up. But one step at a time, it’s more easily done. All I have to do is just keep stepping.