Last spring I attended a college seminar on creating a life plan. Actually the seminar was about creating several life plans, as the facilitators emphasized that sometimes getting too attached to one particular plan is counter productive, as life has a funny way of unfolding differently than we expect – and one’s dreams can crash and burn right alongside it.
I learned a couple things through attending that seminar. One was that even though I am older, there are still a lot of different ways my life could unfold that could be interesting and fulfilling. Another thing I learned – and this I discovered several months later – was that changing your life boils down to one important thing: making the first move.
We can spend time a lot of time studying our personality, strengths, and gifts. We can identify our passion and create a vision for our life. But if we don’t follow through and make the first shaky and imperfect step, nothing changes. Those of us who are perfectionists and like to spend time crafting the ideal life are particularly at a disadvantage. Actually taking a step will destroy the beauty of our plan, as when we take our first step we will bring our imperfect self along with us – the very person who we know struggles with uncertainty, fear, and the daunting shadow of potential failure.
Think about those of us who want to embark on a journey of physical wellness. We google eating plans and consult our friends. We look up recipes and download grocery lists. The pressure of choosing the right eating plan – let alone the energy and dedication required to implement it – keeps us stuck. We end up putting the decision off another week until that special occasion is past and we believe a more sensible time to tackle it will come around.
What if we stopped trying to choose the optimal path and decided the most important move was the very first one? Trying to figure out the best decision possible in any given situation becomes an impossibility anyway, because we don’t know all the facts – or what our future holds.
We want to get back in church, so we read all the reviews. We look at the church’s website and study it carefully. Will we fit in and be at home there? Nothing changes until we take the risk and venture out. Sometimes situations work out well and sometimes they don’t. Allowing ourselves a first imperfect step gives us permission to take a second imperfect step.
When one small thing changes it creates the energy for another small change. Before we know it we will have moved our life forward. Even though our lives may never look exactly like what we hope they will, we can feel the satisfaction that that we are slowly but surely changing things for the better.
My husband and I discovered the importance of taking a first step in budgeting. We chose a system without researching every available one and committed to it. Now, several years later, we don’t do our budget perfectly, but we still do it. And do you know what? Even though we wish we were better at budgeting, taking a first step and committing to it has made a big difference in our lives.
So what situation in your life are you needing to take a first shaky, imperfect step?