“One step at a time
– from “One Step at a Time,” by Jordin Sparks
Perhaps it’s the lingering effects of the new year, but I seem to be thinking a lot about self-improvement as of late.
Of course, the exact context of these lyrics are in a song about a musical artist trying to make it big in the business, with all those dreams of wealth and glory and seeing one’s passions realized before an audience of millions. But nobody starts out like that, and the shining light of our dreams can fade to cold darkness remarkably quick, especially for those who grew up learning little of patience and learning much of instant gratification. So when, as with most things in life, one’s efforts do not meet with instant, overwhelming success, well, many simply give up.
That holds true in many aspects of life, for many of us.
Someone very wise and very experienced in overcoming difficulty once said that life does not change in a day. In changes step after step after step after step. I would add, success is not built in a day either, much like Rome. Every effort that is worth doing requires more than a moment of attention, more than a token effort. It may well require everything we have to give, and more, to improve ourselves, to better our circumstances, to build and maintain a happy marriage and a family, and to make our dreams come true. But most of all, they require patience and perseverance.
Pioneers of the American West spent generations turning the arid land into something not only livable but bounteous. They didn’t come in, plant some seeds, sprinkle some water, and five minutes later the desert is filled with fruit trees. That does not happen.
It can take years, even lifetimes, to build our successes, or overcome our own weaknesses, to transform into better versions of ourselves. In that time, it can be easy to forget that what we are striving for is worth all of the sweat, the tears, the pain, and the patience, indeed worth it a hundred times over. It is so easy to give up on the most important things that we need to do with our lives. We think that if we haven’t already succeeded, it must mean that we never will. But that is wrong, because even if we are doing everything right, it still takes time.
We don’t need to succeed now in order to succeed.
No one learns to fly a plane in a day. Or at least not in any way that you want to be a passenger on that particular flight!
No one truly falls in love instantly. Yes, there is instant attraction, an instant pull, but love is something we build, day after day.
No one becomes a master of any craft overnight. It requires countless hours of long, boring practice.
You do not plant a seed and then harvest the very next day. It doesn’t work.
Whatever we set out to do, we must have patience, both with the world and with ourselves. It’s not a bad thing to have to wait and work for awhile. Slow and steady wins the race.