Last week, I wrote about what to do when you “hit the wall.” Just after finishing that article, I remembered a post that I wrote back in February 2012 on a similar theme. Now, four years later, it’s still a great reminder. So I’ve adapted and updated it for today in hopes that it may help you streamline your focus and, ultimately, avoid “hitting the wall!” Enjoy.
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“Just take one step at a time.” I remember my father saying those words to me so many times.
These days, as my life and work continue to evolve and expand, those words are taking on a greater meaning. I used to think that familiar adage simply meant to focus only on your next step and nothing more. And then once you had taken that step, you could focus on the one after that.
While that is certainly sage advice, more recently I’m finding out that there is more to this familiar saying than just taking “one step at a time.” It’s about focus and being present.
If I keep my focus on the step that I’m taking right now and nothing else, then I am also fully present right here, right now. As a result, I am likely to have greater awareness of my thoughts, feelings, motivations, intentions, and everything that is happening around me. And the quality of my work is likely to be higher.
I’m in one of those periods right now where there are so many things on my plate that I wonder how they will all get done. Pushing back deadlines will not help because interesting projects and assignments just keep coming. And for that, I am grateful.
And so I have a choice. I can choose to focus on everything that is on my plate at once and be anxious and overwhelmed, or I can focus on one thing at a time. With the second choice, I experience much less stress because all I am thinking about is what I am doing in that moment. And when that task is complete, I can have a short walk with my dogs and just be present with them and with the beautiful countryside around us, and then return to my desk. Often, I return with new inspiration and insight for the project I will work on next. Taking just “one step at a time” allows me to be fully present in what I’m doing. The added bonus is that I enjoy what I’m doing a lot more as well!
I fully admit that I’m not always 100% successful at this! Sometimes not even 75%. However, I don’t give up. I know that it’s a life-long practice. And I’ve learned that practicing this “one step at a time / one thing at a time” focus when my plate is not so full helps me be ready for times like now when my plate is piled high and overflowing.
“One step at a time.” Try it.
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