Small steps for a grand plan

First day of school: definitely a small step in a grand plan!

Today I had one of those come-to-insert-higher-power-of-choice moments. It started as a slight scolding from someone who is looking out for me in more than one way (which I deserved), twisted and turned into “I’ve been where you are” stories, and ended on a positive, action-oriented note.

“Help me help you” isn’t just a memorable line from Jerry Maguire — it’s something we have each heard at least once in our lives, maybe more often when we feel like we’re at a crossing in the woods, in the road, or whatever your path is in life. And in order to to help someone help you, you have to listen, and you have to be willing to take small steps to get to your grand plan – your “grander version of you.”

When you’re just not sure what to do next in your career, in a relationship, heck, in your week, it helps to think about things in two points of reference: 1) what is your big, long-term life goal for yourself; and 2) what are the daily steps you can do to get you to #1.

And most important to remember in all of this is to stop comparing yourself to everyone else. Easier said than done of course. This is probably one of my biggest challenges. I’m constantly wondering why I can’t be the one that wakes up at 6am and runs 5 miles and instead I beat myself up for working too long and therefore missing a workout. For several months leading into my breakup and after last year, I watched many friends and acquaintances get engaged and pitifully said to myself that it was supposed to be me. And when I see other people get promoted or move on to a bigger and better job, or take a great vacation around the world, I am envious that they made something happen for themselves while I seem stuck in a rut.

But it’s not about them. It’s about me. And my grand plan. And my small steps for getting there.

So what’s my grand plan, you might ask? Each day that I think about it, I become more sure and more in love with it: my grand version of me is to own a bookstore cafe where I am one of the cooks, but where I also hold writing workshops and classes for teens and young adults. Many dogs allowed. Sinatra, James Taylor, and Sam Cooke are always singing, and trails are near for running.

But how to get there, I ask myself? It probably won’t be in the next five years, the next 10, or maybe even the next 20. And in the meantime, there is lots of life to be lived, and part of that is taking the little steps here and there to get me to my end goal, such as:

  • Signing up to be a mentor for a teen girl or teaching English as a second language as a local organization
  • Traveling to countries on my wish list, one at a time (like my trip to Costa Rica coming in May)
  • Training for more races my way — not anyone else’s way
  • Making the right connections to help me grow in my career
  • Taking another cooking class

Each day is chock full of decisions. And some days, we’re going to have frustrated moments, and we’ll go through unhappy times when we feel like the clock has stopped for us while everyone around us keeps moving. So when that happens, take a moment and visualize your grand plan, and then start the clock again and complete the next small step to get you that much closer to happiness.


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