Josh Irby

Live from Sarajevo

A life of action (step out and start changing)

[This is the eight post in the series Plan2Change, about the possibility and process of personal growth. Check out parts  1 2345, 6, and 7]

“A journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one’s feet.” Laozi

Every journey, every project, every mission starts the same—the first step. A lift of the foot, the extension of the leg, the propulsion of the body forward. One step in the right direction.

No journey begins without it. No goal is reached apart from it. Many dreams die in its absence.

Now is the time to step out.

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I am an idea guy. I can postulate and theorize from sunrise to sunset. However, ideas don’t produce change. Ideas don’t feed my family. Ideas don’t make me the kind of person I want to be.

[tweet_quote]Ideas are cheap. Action is priceless.[/tweet_quote]

If you’ve followed this series, you have, by now, identified and clarified the problem, set goals, and developed a plan. Now is the time for action.

As you step out towards your goal there are two forces you will have to fight—fear and fog.

Fight the Fear

Imagine this scenario. A man works his whole life, fastidiously saving to ensure an enjoyable retirement. The day after his retirement party he moves to Miami and purchases a 60 foot sailboat. Every day he goes to the harbor, swabs the deck, checks the gauges and inspects his craft from bow to stern.

A year later, two work colleagues fly to Miami for a visit. After settling into the hotel, they head to the marina where the man awaits, smiling from the deck of his boat. The man gives his friends a tour, describing each element of his yacht with meticulous detail. Eventually, one of his former colleagues asks, “So when can we take her out for ride?”

The man stares back blankly. “What do you mean?”
“When can we sail this beautiful vessel? The sun is out and wind is just right.”
“Oh,” replied the man, “I don’t sail. There are too many dangers out there in the ocean. What if the boat is damaged or destroyed? I find it’s safer to keep her here in the harbor.”

The next morning the man returns to the marina to clean and inspect his ship and his friends return home confused and disappointed.

What do you think of this man? What do you think about his choices?

He is right about one thing: the yacht is safer in the harbor than it is out in the ocean. At sea there are rocks and barnacles, storms and waves. To leave the harbor is to face danger.

But what was a boat created to do? It was made to unfurl it’s sails, embrace the wind, and fly through the water. It was made for the sea.

So were you.

[tweet_quote]You weren’t made for safe harbor but for life’s adventure. Don’t let fear keep you anchored.[/tweet_quote]

Forget the Fog

Another force warring against action is lack of clarity. Often when we start to move in the direction of change we become aware of all the questions we have yet to answer. Maybe we can see two or three steps in front of us, but beyond that is a wall of fog. So, instead of moving towards the fog, we stay put.

Here’s the truth: there will always be fog. You will never see the end of the path from the beginning. But that does not mean you shouldn’t start walking.

If you have followed the steps laid out in this series you have enough clarity to start. There are unanswered questions. There are unseen twists and turns to the path. There are unknown dangers ahead. But you know enough to take the first step.

Walk towards the fog. Do what you know and don’t worry about what you don’t yet know. In my experience, the fog clears as you approach it.

What will you do?

Now that we’ve exposed our enemies, it is time to clarify action steps. You’ve thought about people to ask for help. You’ve considered areas of growth in learning. But these alone won’t get you to your goal. You need to act.

Write out your action steps. Will you . . .:

Write 500 words a day, five days a week.
Exercise 4 days a week for at least one hour.
Take my spouse on a date every week.
Create a detailed personal budget and review it every Sunday night.

Your goal will determine your actions, but your actions will determine your success. What do you need to do to reach your goal? Make a list.

Look back over your list. Are your tasks clear? achievable? Now you know where to start. It’s okay if you don’t know how to reach the finish line, just get started. Things will become clearer as you get moving.

And once you take that first step, there is no limit to where it can lead you.

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About Josh

  • Loved the post Josh. It’s easy to seek the comfort of the harbor and not sail out to an open sea. But when we push out from our moorings we can live a life that’s full. Sure they’ll be failures but they’re better than a boatload of regrets.

  • This is something to print off and keep in front of me, Josh. I am missing pieces of what you are suggesting we need in our action. I set goals, but neglect the action plan, or fail to review my goals. Or, change the goal without consenting the rest of myself. And, then the boat sits in the harbor – in the fog.

    Thank you, Josh. I have some rewriting of goals and action plans to do today.

    And, I loved the words you left for us to tweet. Perfect choices.

    Shari 🙂