Back at Square One

As a technology dependent nerd who always has her power wheelchair cranked to the highest speed, I have become someone who expects instantaneous results. These are no longer just habits of mine but have become a way of life, and it's not something I'm necessarily proud to admit.
I'm driven by progress that is tangible, things that I can see and acknowledge so that I know what to do next in order to reach my goals. Those are often the day-to-day things that drive me to continue. When I have a great one-on-one session with a client I am energized to do follow-ups. When I do well on an exam in school I can factor that into my GPA and make note of the study tips. When I successfully talk my friend into buying me lunch I know what methods of persuasion will work for the next time. But what about the things that I have less patience with? What about the things that aren't so tangible and the progress I won't be able to see for years to come?

Slipping my wrists through the crutches I recalled to memory the crutch, step, crutch, step pattern that I had just gotten under my belt before the rod operation. It was now eight months later and my physical therapist had gotten the green light to have me walking again; she was excited, I was cautiously excited, and everyone seemed to expect the latest rod operation to do wonders. There was talk of me walking for longer distances, for longer periods of time, maybe even some day navigating stairs in the crutches. But at that moment I couldn't see the end result and was frustrated that I had to begin at what seemed like square negative eight before getting to even square one. I even thought to myself "why am I doing this when it's just so much easier and faster to zoom around in my chair?"
I sat on the foot plate of the chair, crutches dangling from my wrists and looked up at my physical therapist,
"I have to start ALL over again?! This is gonna take forever and be so slow and annoying."
"It's going to take time but you'll get there." She assured me, motioning to get a move on already.

So I took a few steps and walked for about 15 yards and every ten yards my P.T. would ask me "how do you feel?" I was focused on the floor, my brain had little else going on in it aside from the crutch, step, crutch pattern - remembering which foot to move when after which crutch had moved forward. Without ever looking up at her I kept my eyes trained on what I was doing, I told her I felt "fine" each time she asked. In my mind I was eager to get to meet the expectations everyone had about me walking further and longer, I wanted to do it on the first day back to walking. I wanted results and immediate progress.
After however many yards my legs started feeling weary, my arms trembled a bit in the crutches, my palms had become sweaty against the grip, and the next time my P.T. asked how I felt I gave in and said "tired now."
"Do you think you can walk back to your chair?" She asked me. Slowly, I turned around and looked at the distance I had covered, it was enough to make the chair look like a speck in the background. I could just barely make out the foot rest that I had sat on just twenty minutes before.
"We can sit on the carpet and rest for a few minutes before we head back" she suggested.

In my naivety to break expectations and shatter standards on DAY ONE, I have slowly come to realize that there is a huge gap between day one and the eventual realization of my goals. What fills this gap? Persistence. Focus. Determination. But above anything else, most of that gap is going to consist of your energy to keep the urge to quit at bay.

Fight the Good Fight:

  • Don't get lost in translation. When you think about step one and how it will ever get you to your goal, it's easy to get intimidated by that distance. But don't feel warped by the distance! Translating step one to meeting your goal means taking just one step. And that's all that it means. 
  • Be realistic. Goals are goals because they require a plan and a time frame. Tasks are things that take less than a day to complete or require fewer steps. Ask yourself, are you completing a task or a goal?
  • Don't miss out on anything. Despite the thousands of ways that we can now record and share our lives, it's still easy to miss out on opportunities and people if you're always rushing to complete a goal for the sake of completing a goal. Look around every now and then, evaluate, recommend, or maybe take a few steps back. 
  • Look back. When you do take that first step remember how great it feels. The thrill, the excitement, the uncertainty, maybe even the terror of it - so that as you're moving on towards your goal you can strive to create more of those moments or relish in the progress you are already making! 

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