First Step

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

–Chinese Proverb

Throughout our lives, we will experience and undertake various journeys.  Some of these journeys are good, like undertaking a new career venture, starting a new exercise regimen, or moving to a new state or country to pursue a goal.  Some of them are frightening, like moving away from home for the first time, entering the military, or undertaking a new martial art. No matter what that journey is going to look like, it has two things that make it a journey: a starting point, and a final goal or outcome.

When undertaking a journey, it can be overwhelming.  You don’t know how long it will take, in most cases, and you don’t know how much effort it’s going to take to reach the goal.  In fact, you’re almost guaranteed to underestimate the amount of effort that will be required to achieve that goal by a full order of magnitude.  It is for this reason that people are often reluctant to set goals or start journeys in the first place; and then later in life they feel like failures.

Many people avoid setting goals too high, for fear of never being able to attain them.  This is ultimately self-destructive, as it leads to people allowing themselves to “settle” for what they can get, rather than going for what they can achieve.  Looking at the population as a whole, how many people do you think are actually achieving at their maximum level? Five percent? It’s doubtful that it’s above one percent, although it’s impossible to truly calculate the numbers on this.  Part of the reason we never achieve our true potential is because there is no scientific way to calculate what percentage of our potential we have reached; as a society we like to have measurability.

In the end, however, wanting measurability is nothing but an excuse.  The only way you’re going to achieve your goal is to take that first step.  So take a deep breath, write down where the journey you’re about to embark upon is going to take you, and take that first step.

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