When I was around ten years old, I went to the mountains with my YMCA group. There had been a heavy snow and we could not drive all the way to our cabins. We had to park off the highway and load our bags onto the inner tubes and sleds we had brought. As we each grabbed our load and headed down the road it began to snow and the temperature dropped. We hadn’t walked half a mile before I was cold and miserable and began to complain and demand to know when we would get to the cabin. I was not happy with the answer.
As the wind and snow began to whip up, Fritz (a friend of mine) came cruising by me with his head down and a determined look on his face. He didn’t appear as miserable as I was and I didn’t hear him complain. I was impressed that he seemed to take the whole event in stride without complaining. I wondered if he knew how much longer we had to walk?I followed his lead and put my head down to keep the snow from hitting my face. I stared at my feet, focusing on putting one ahead of the other and listening to the sound of the snow crunch with each step. Though I wasn’t aware of it at the time, we walked more than another mile before we reached the cabin. It seemed like the last mile and a half lasted five minutes while the first half mile seemed to last an hour. Not only that, I forgot how cold I was and didn’t even noticed that the weather got worse the whole time we were walking. I was amazed to look up and find out we had arrived. I was a bit proud of myself too.
There are many versions of the statement “The longest journey begins with a single step.” If we were to break down all of our journeys into single steps we might find them far less intimidating. It’s much easier to get overwhelmed with all the things we can think of doing than it is to be overwhelmed by only what is in front of us at any moment. When we break down our problems/challenges to simple steps and then focus only on what we can do at that moment, we will find ourselves far more effective. If you do this you will find that inevitably you will get where you are going.
It is about making sure you are making the best use of your time without feeling overwhelmed with all the things you can think of doing, but in fact, cannot be doing at that moment anyway. Whenever you feel yourself with more to do than you can keep up with simply ask yourself the question “What’s the first step?” When it comes to complex problems you can use the same question “What’s the first step?” You can even arrange your schedule to reflect the answer to this question.