The way I see it, there are only two directions– up and down.
I used to say that it didn’t matter how fast you were going, as long as the direction you were going was up. Keep moving up, as slowly as you want, and you’ll get to a good place in your life. Don’t rush past people, don’t get greedy… just be that tortoise, taking one step at a time.
Up means fitter, more successful, more focused, or anything you want it to. (Down is just opposite of those.) But as I think about this I realize that it might not be enough. People can stay in their job for years, waiting for that next promotion, thinking they’re on their way up so it’s ok. But that isn’t up– it’s flatlining.
I used to rock climb a lot with my roommate. We did bouldering— the kind with no rope that requires a lot of strength. One of the things you learn while doing it is that there is a huge energy cost to just sitting there, wondering what the next move is. It’s better to plan ahead– or to try and fail– than to hang there, your energy being sapped away.
I think there’s a lot to be said here about deluding yourself, thinking you’re going up when you’re really not. You think your position is stable, but it isn’t. Momentum is important.
The thing is, we wait for the right time– the perfect time– to take the next step, just like we did bouldering. But there is no perfect time, except for right now. Just like people say there’s never a perfect time to have kids, and if you wait for it, it’ll never happen.
The circumstances will never be perfect. It’ll always be a little harder than you want it to be. But it doesn’t mean you can’t do it. It just means you’ll have to make yourself… a bit uncomfortable.