Overcoming discouragement with slow progress

Are you discouraged about your goals?

Mud walk

Do you feel like it’s taking forever to reach your dreams?

I’ve heard it said that most people give up their dreams right when they’re on the edge of a breakthrough.  Why is that?

We get an idea that could change our life.  We roll that idea around in our minds for a while, and start designing a plan to get there.  We get excited.  We take the first steps, and we’re energized.

Then we take the next step.

Then the next.

Mud walkBut after a while, we get tired of just taking steps.  “This isn’t what I signed up for.”  We can’t see our goal any more – we can only see the next step, and another, and another.

Drudgery.

It’s hard to keep moving when we’re in the middle of a long journey.  When the end isn’t in sight, it’s hard to stay motivated.  Everything inside us feels like turning back.

But here’s the thing: Those steps are building momentum.

We’re familiar with momentum from common transportation examples:

  • When the space shuttle would launch into orbit, it would burn 90% of its fuel in the first few minutes to escape the earth’s gravity.   From that point forward, the fuel consumption dropped to a fraction of that original amount.
  • An airplane builds up speed to take off, then climbs steeply to reach “cruising altitude” – then the pilot backs of on the power, and “cruises” easily to the destination.
  • When an 8-car passenger train starts moving, it seems to take forever to get in motion.  But once it’s going 50 miles per hour, it takes over a mile for it to stop.

That’s momentum.

When we’re taking those small steps, it seems like they take forever.  It’s easy to focus on those steps, wondering if we’ll ever “take off.”

It applies to every part of life – our jobs, our relationships, our health, our finances, and our dreams.

So what should we do?

  1. Have a clear picture of where we’re headed.
  2. Determine the best steps to get there.
  3. Realize that each step is building momentum.
  4. Keep moving forward, one step at a time.
  5. Enjoy the journey.

That doesn’t mean we do all the work up front and never have to do anything else.  Once the momentum is there, we have to keep it moving.

But that’s a lot easier than getting it started.

A friend of mine says, “When you’re halfway through walking through a pile of manure, it’s easy to give up.  But when you’re in the middle, it’s just as far to the far edge as it is to where you started.”

So we might as well keep moving forward.