How to Keep on Track


DSC_0012Biking to work this week revealed more insights for moving ahead.

My path to our new work office stretches over a variety of sections of roadway. I travel through a quiet residential area to a busy road, a roundabout, another street without a bike lane, a private, peaceful gravel road and finally a long highway with a wide biking path.

It was on that last stretch that I had an “ah-ha” moment.

At every quarter mile, written in spray paint on the asphalt path, were fractions marking off the measurements. I assume the mile markers were created by a surveyor.

And was I ever grateful.

Because when I rode over the first one, I felt a glimmer or hope. I had ridden a quarter of a mile on that long stretch of highway. I looked up, but the scenery held only trees–no hint of the buildings that would promise my destination.

But before I knew it, I’d passed the next marker.

Half a mile, then three quarters of a mile and finally a mile and a quarter. I kept my focus on the road just ahead and with each marker, encouragement grew in me and so did a sense of accomplishment.

The next time I looked up, I saw my office building in the distance.

It amazed me how much shorter that ride seemed when I looked at small increments of progress rather than keeping my focus in the distance hoping for a glimpse of my future goal.

Isn’t life like that?

I believe God gives us a vision for what he has planned for us. I believe he has good things he created for us and created us for. And he gives us a sense of what those plans are. Maybe a desire in our heart or a passion for a vocation, helping a group of people or creating a solution to a problem.

But in my experience, those plans rarely happen within my time frame.

More often, I end up in what seems like a detour in my life. Writing books has taken years. Speaking to groups has been sporadic. My financial business is on hold. I was forty-seven when I finally met my husband, the man my heart adores. And now it is taking far longer than I ever imagined to work out some issues in our marriage.

Taking my life forward has starts, stops and twisting roads.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ve heard God clearly. Or maybe I made a wrong turn and it’s taking longer because God is trying to get me back to where I took a path I thought was the only way to go.

Or maybe he’s developing me for the plans he has.

But what this week taught me, is that while it’s good to keep looking up and making sure I’m heading in the right direction to the vision or goal, I’ll make better progress if I’m focusing on what is right in front of me. One step at a time, one day at a time, one quarter of a mile at a time.

It’s the eating an elephant thing.

Tackling a five mile ride (okay, so I’m a little wimpy you pro-cyclists) happens each day in sections. When I get through one, I can focus on the next one. As I pass each marker, I’m that much closer to my destination.

Life is a journey.

Each plan or vision God has for us is tackled daily or sometimes hourly. Whether it’s a career choice, a relationship, or overcoming an addiction, each small step adds up to making it to our goal. And along the way, we’re being equipped to handle the challenges of that future vision.

Just like my wimpy muscles are getting stronger each day. Eventually five miles will seem like a ride around the block.

At least I hope so!

What’s a vision, goal or destination you feel is taking longer than you hoped? What can you focus on that will make the journey more hopeful and enjoyable? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below or email me at laurabennet14@gmail.com

 

Getting to the Destination


Change your perspective.

Nearly every day I walk at the beach near my house. From the top of the cliff I make my way down a staircase that boasts 151 steps. Naturally, when I finish my walk, I often take the same set of stairs back to the top. Some people, including my husband and his friend, run up and down them numerous times as part of their workout regime. I’m lucky to get back up them once.  I make it up the first three flights pretty easily, but when I hit that fourth one and see three more to go, I have to change my perspective. The only way I can manage is to not look at the top from where I am. From that point on, I only look at the next step, and then the next, and so on. Breathe deeply and finally I’ve reached the top.

Allow me another anecdote.

Today I attended a wedding at which we savored delectable food. As is usually the case, the bride and groom cut their wedding cake and plates were passed for the guests. I thanked the attendant who offered me cake, and after I took one bite, I turned over the remainder to my husband. The chocolate melted on my tongue with delicious temptation, but I simply didn’t feel compelled to finish it. One taste was enough. That’s because three weeks ago I decided to go without eating any added sugar for three weeks, and as a result I didn’t crave it any longer. I had been indulging a bit much in sweets for the past…uh…too many months (like since Christmas goodies), and the benefit of those extra sugar calories was only the rise of numbers on my scale. I could have said “I’m never eating sugar again” (highly unlikely!) or “Boy, I really need to lose weight” (ya think?), but thinking that way would not have been helpful.

I knew I had to set a concrete and drastic goal.

You may be wondering what these two seemingly unrelated stories have to do with writing…or maybe you’ve already experienced the ah-ha that I did recently. These stories describe two of the most important things I’m learning about writing:

  1. Don’t worry so much about the big picture (which only overwhelms you); focus on one step at a time
  2. Set concrete and somewhat drastic goals that will lead you to the desired outcome

For me, one step at a time is editing my book without worrying yet about where I will send it when I’m done; or developing a character for a book without having the whole story of his/her life mapped out within the novel yet.

A concrete goal has been writing 1,000 words per day; editing 20 pages in a day; or writing for two hours per day for the next fourteen days.

Combine the two revelations and each small, concrete goal is the next single step to focus on!

Suddenly, I find that I’ve written 4,ooo words in a week and my character’s life is unfolding on my computer screen! Editing a little each day has produced a book that is more than halfway finished. I think you get the picture. Small goals are the single stepping stones to our destination.

See you at the top!

What are some of the steps you’re taking? What goals have you set? What part of the big picture have you seen completed so far?