Climbing Stairs, Climbing Mountains
A few days ago, a client and I were discussing the magic of breaking big, scary tasks into bite-sized, manageable actions.
She said something that was so profoundly articulate in that moment:
“I just need to keep making decisions.”
That simple statement took a series of files in my brain and organized them all into a concise and accurate sentence. It brought two major concepts into the light.
1. Climbing stairs
When it comes to getting ‘big’ things done, we see the enormous staircase in front of us. But we don’t seem to notice the first step or two laying at our feet.
Just like climbing a giant set of stairs, attacking major projects or life events can be daunting.
But here’s the kicker:
You do not ‘do’ a project. You complete a series of Action Steps–one at a time, until you make significant and sufficient progress on the greater task at hand.
How do you ‘climb’ a set of stairs? You place one foot onto the first step. Then you use that leg to propel yourself forward so you can land on the next step with your other foot. Repeat.
2. Climbing mountains
No matter how much time, effort, or energy we pour into our objectives, the work is never done. We are about to hit a milestone where we can sit and relax, until we are smacked with the reality that there’s always more work to be done.
More conversations to have. More adjustments to make. More decisions to be made.
We often think, “Once I do/get x, then I’ll be set.”
Once you get that awesome new job, you’ll also have to: develop a new schedule, learn new skills, cultivate new relationships, organize new work/life harmony…
Once you make the amount of money you want to make, you’ll also have to: reallocate your spending, update your taxes, reflect on your lifestyle…
Once you move to that city you’ve been dreaming of, you’ll also have to: make new friends, learn your way around, acclimate to the new culture and structure, rework your new routine…
I’m not saying to never pursue goals or milestones. I’m also not advocating that we never feel a sense of accomplishment when we get things done.
The point is: once you reach these goals and milestones, you must understand that your work is not over. It is never over. This realization will save you from the heartache as you climb without a feeling of satisfaction.
A man looked up at the mountain before him, and embarked. He spent a year trodding up its hills, fighting the elements. He reached the top, feeling invincible and relieved. Then he looked up. He noticed that next to the mountain he had been climbing, stood another mountain twice as tall. With an accepting sigh and a smile, the man continued on his trek and began walking up the second mountain.