Lao Tzu tells us that every journey of 1000 miles begins with but a single step. This is of course true of every journey that we take. But have you ever considered that, having taken the first step, the rest of the journey still has to be made? This means that the next step is the first step of the rest of the journey. So every step is, in a way, the first step.

If that is so, every journey can be achieved by taking nothing more than the next step. In other words, every journey can be completed one step at a time. This is true of a journey of a few steps, as well as a journey lasting a lifetime.

Almost every self-help and goal-setting workshop tells you that you must keep your eyes on the ultimate goal at all times. By looking so far ahead, however, you are unlikely to see what is close at hand, and are more likely to trip over your own feet. You also miss out on all the roses they keep telling you to smell along the way.

On the other hand, looking down at the ground all the time means you can’t see where you’re going. It does have the advantage that you’re less likely to be overwhelmed by the size of the task ahead of you, but you miss out on seeing the goal gradually approaching you. It’s all a matter of how much attention you give to where you’re going, as opposed to what’s around you.

I made an interesting discovery years ago while walking through darkened scrubland at night. It was the night of the new moon, and I had only starlight to guide me. I found that I could see what was down by my feet and next to me much better by looking ahead than by looking down or around. It’s all a matter of using your peripheral vision, which is more sensitive to light differences than your central vision. In this way, I was aware of both where I was going and what was around me. I didn’t run into any trees or bushes, and the world was much more interesting because of my double awareness.

If you spend all your time looking at the goal, events and objects around you will constantly be getting in your way, and your progress will be very slow and disheartening. Spend all your time looking down or around, and before you know it, you’ve wandered off course and have ended up somewhere completely different. You must do both, switching back and forth from one to the other as necessary, but always being aware that the other exists. If you can, do both at the same time, keeping the two in balance with each other.

I can’t give you any advice on where the line of balance is; each of us must find their own balance point. But find that balance point you must, if you wish to achieve your goals.

PS Happy birthday to my Dad on his 79th birthday!

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