With Focus 2/25/21

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

Has it ever struck you how much easier things are with goals? I don’t mean large goals, but small ones. It’s an interesting phenomenon and can be manipulated to help.

Sometimes these are called “baby steps”. My friend, after many years off, has returned to school for a degree in psychology. She didn’t have a great start, though. She went to college right after high school, just like we were all told we’re supposed to, and she basically partied her GPA to almost zero. It’s easier to go to school when you’re younger. Today she has her own business, seven children (if you count her husband, which I do), dogs, cats, ducks, charities, and needy friends like me to contend with, and yet, here she is…a couple of semesters away from her degree and considering graduate school. And how did she do it? By thinking about giving up her evenings for six years to take night classes?

No. She did it one step at a time. Just one. First, she had to find a program that she could take completely online. That was her goal; just finding a program that could work, and she was fortunate to find one from a state college making it more affordable. Once she found it, she didn’t just start taking classes. The next step was to apply. Just apply. That’s all. Forget everything else that has to follow; it’s just that one simple step.

Then came the practicality of affording the classes. Then it was registering for her first courses. There were many steps to follow, but she took them all as they came. And the hardest? The first step. Just one step at a time.

It’s human nature to get bogged down in everything. How often have people given up on their dreams because they just seem overwhelming? I want to build a workbench in the basement, a custom workbench into the wall to make it a part of the house, but rather than think about every nut and bolt, I’m just thinking about 4x4s for the legs. What heights should they be? All the same, or maybe longer for the back so I can out on a pegboard? Four, six or eight legs? This will be simple enough, but this step does have a complication. How can I cut them to size? I’m not doing it yet as I am waiting for the spring, but I’m already in the process.

Although I’ve never belonged, my understanding is that this is a technique used by Alcoholics Anonymous. Their members are taught not to try to give up alcohol forever. It’s just too overwhelming. Instead, just don’t drink now. For now, avoid drinking this hour, or today. Seven “just todays” add up to no alcohol for a week. Four weeks of “just todays” yield a month, and so on. Just for now, right now, the first baby step is how you start.

The Masons have a tradition that I love. They tap the floor with a walking stick before walking to another part of the lodge room. (I hope I’m not giving away any Masonic secrets here.) I never understood this tradition, until I asked a good friend of mine what the reason. His answer was simple; a man should always mark the beginning of any journey.

I suppose, a little over two years ago sitting in the basement in a room offered by my friend so I wouldn’t have to live under a bridge, I marked the beginning of this journey with my very first blog post. I’ve written one every day for over eight hundred days now. It’s not my whole life, but this has been a journey nonetheless. It’s been a transformation of my life, as I’ve been directionless, I’ve lost my focus, I’ve struggled and today I feel as if I’ve overcome. And it was one step at a time, often with the critical help of my great friends. Today, the journey continues, but I have to admit that it feels as if it is again beginning to feel like a journey worth taking. This has been missing for so very long in my life, but it’s time for me to move forward and I feel as if I’m off to a good start.

It couldn’t have happened without my friends, so I feel like I have to thank them. Never believe that I’ve forgotten any of you. I’m only here to continue my journey because of you, and I want to thank my readers as well for joining me on this trek. You’re all the best.

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