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The importance of small steps

Posted September 10, 2014 in Advice Column, Greene County

Many readers recall the song “High Hopes” sung by Frank Sinatra and written by J. Van Heusen, S. Cahn. The lyrics are about the need to have a vision and goal and to stick with it:

Next time you’re found
With your chin on the ground
There’s a lot to be learned,
So look around.

Just what makes that little old ant
Think he’ll move that rubber tree plant?
Anyone knows an ant, can’t
Move a rubber tree plant.
But he’s got high hopes.
He’s got high hopes.
He’s got high apple pie
In the sky hopes.
So any time you’re gettin’ low,
‘Stead of lettin’ go, just
remember that ant.
Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant.
Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant.
Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant

A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step — followed by several other steps. Regardless of how many steps the trip is, it begins with “one step.” We don’t know what may happen on the journey, so we tend to take that trip one step at a time. Like the ant, how do you move the rubber tree plant? How do you start the journey?

Even though the journey begins with one step, like the ant, we need to set goals — i.e. “high hopes” — what we want to get done, where we want to go, and generally how we will get the job done or how we will get there. Without a goal, how will you know if you ever get there or if you are even going in the right direction? Frequently things happen that affect the actual journey even if you have a clear goal and have begun the journey. Those “things” we normally can’t predict. The journey still begins with one step and, in case of the elephant, we tackle it one bite at a time.

Many times when we develop a project or have an idea — the end goal tends to overwhelm us.  As a result, we often back away from the project or idea and take a simpler and easier project that is less visionary, but that we know is predictable and relatively easy to obtain. We leave behind an idea or goal that may have become highly successful.

My suggestion for achieving these bigger “dreams” or “visions” is to have “high hopes.” Take the vision and break it down into smaller steps. Soon you will have achieved your vision.

Set your hopes high and begin with one step — you can move the rubber tree plant.

Information provided by Gerry Schnepf, Keep Iowa Beautiful executive director.

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