‘G’ is for Go One Step at a Time

‘D’ for Decide: Fear or Excitement
July 14, 2021
‘E’ – Energize Yourself for the Long Run
July 28, 2021

‘G’ is for Go One Step at a Time

depicts someone tking one step at a time

This is the sixth in a series of seven posts in which I explore how to move forward when our journey is difficult. The series began with an introduction and has covered the first three of six TRUDGE practices for long-term resilience: Tell the Truth, Remember, Unpack Your History, and Decide: Excitement or Fear.

TRUDGE – being resilient as you move through a challenging time in your life.  In the midst of difficulties, things can feel overwhelming. This is a time to go one step at a time.  Decide what really needs to be done next and work on a plan to get that done.  It will not all happen at once.  The process can feel agonizing.  “I just want this to be over!” “I wish life would go back to normal.”  “I can’t take much more of this.”   

Trudge is not about gritting your teeth and slogging through. This is not the time to blaze out or keep yourself busy with frantic activity that does not move you forward.  Consider your next step(s).  Pace yourself.  Be patient with the process. 

Consider Your Next Step(s)

Difficult times generally include multiple areas of difficulty.  Or maybe it is one problem, but it is so huge it is overwhelming much of life.  These are not the kinds of problems we can solve all at once. Listing out the things that need to be taken care of and deciding on priorities can help.   

Once you have your list, choose one, or two, or three things start with. Focus on these alone and break them down into manageable steps.  When overwhelmed by the big picture, pause for a moment and look at the next step.   It can help to have signposts along the way.  Ticking off small things from your list can be encouraging and give you momentum to keep you moving.   

Pace Yourself

During a time of trudge, you are likely to have less energy as well. Do what you can. Do not expect yourself to be a superhero. You are not able to be all things to all people. You are not able to do all things all at once. Recognize what is within your control and what you do not have the ability to change. Outside forces will limit progress at times. Focus on the things within your circle of control, and let go of the rest.  

Focus on your short list, those one or two next steps. I can remember being in a time of trudge, with my head so full. I would write down all that was in my head, then choose a few things to work on. Toward the end of the day, I would run out of steam. I learned to say to myself, “I have done what I can for today.” I would pick a few things to work on for the next day and then quit for the day. I needed to be able to recharge to get through the long haul.  

Have Patience with the Process

Develop patience with yourself and the process. Notice your progress, no matter how small.  Write down what you have accomplished in a day.  What are three things that moved you forward?   What are some small wins or progress that you can celebrate?  Another helpful tool for going one step at time is to keep track of how far you have come.  I had a friend who had to have significant surgery on her nose due to cancer.  She took a photo of her nose – every single day.  When she felt discouraged about how “badly” her nose looked she would review all the photos.  Seeing the healing progress helped her realize that she was moving forward even though it was not at the pace she would have liked.  

Big problems often did not get created overnight; they will not be resolved in a day.  It can be hard to accept it will take time. Chances are you’ve been through something already in your life that took some time to resolve. Think about one of those times. Notice the good things that came of it because it took so long to resolve. Consider the possibility that this process, too, may contain hidden gifts.  

What is a small step you can take to move yourself forward?  How do you keep track of the progress you are making?  The truth is: this is hard.  Do your goals need to be adjusted?   Go one step at a time.  You will not uncomplicate this mess, solve this problem, or get it all done as quickly as you would like to.  You can step back and pick one step that is within your means and get it done.  Then stop to give yourself credit for having done it.  Stop and notice.  “I got _____done today. Well done.”   

To learn more, explore learnmodelteach.com for tools, videos, and coaching opportunities.


Laura A. Gaines