Reality Check: The Satisfaction of Small Steps

Ups and downs are a part of life. When life goes well, activities tend to fall in to place; you know what you need and want to do.

It’s during those down times that it can be difficult to figure out what, if anything, to do. What do you do when you are feeling stuck?

Jason has worked at a low-skill job since high school. While he makes barely enough to get by, he still counts himself lucky, considering his friends who have no work at all. However, at this rate, he knows that he’ll never be able to afford to raise a family, own a house, or even buy a decent truck. He’s at a dead end.

Jason has often thought he’d like to be a welder, and he has some talent. However, his buddy told him he’ll never get in because there’s a waiting list, then there’s all that time in school, followed by apprenticeship.

He’d be almost 30 before he could start making the big bucks! Good grief, he’ll be an old man and just getting started! It’s discouraging.

In his book, People Can’t Drive You Crazy if You Don’t Give Them the Keys, Mike Bechtle suggests ways to repair or improve relationships. Those suggestions apply to other situations, even to Jason’s.

The first suggestion is, “Develop an honest perspective.” It can be disconcerting to take an honest look at one’s life. So far, Jason has avoided doing that by spending his free time playing video games and hanging out.

However, if Jason were to take some of that free time to look honestly at his situation, what would he see? What you and I already know—that unless he takes some action, he will still get older, but without education or better prospects. Time does march on, regardless.

So, it’s time to buck up and recognize—life has already started. If Jason wants to be in charge of his, waiting for later will not make it better.

The second suggestion is, “Value tiny steps.” The question, “What am I going to do with my life?” can be overwhelming. If Jason doesn’t take any action, then he runs the risk of finding himself an old man, still in the same situation, still confused about his career, life, and purpose.

A more effective outlook is to figure out one small step that leads in the right direction. What is a small step Jason could take? Look up jobs he wants and see what qualifications he needs. Pick up the college program calendar. Look at the apprenticeship website. Get the facts, rather than relying on your buddy’s hearsay.

Taking that first step in the right direction can make the next step clearer. Continuing with regular small steps that are consistent with your goal will lead you to the goal. One step does lead to another.

An added benefit is that taking action helps us to feel positive. When you know that you are making progress, it’s easier to continue through the tough times.

Have you ever felt stuck? How did you get out?

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