Peace Comes Piece by Piece

Peace comes piece by piece. I read this bit of wisdom on a teabag and it made me ponder as I drank my tea. Whether it is personal goals one is trying to achieve or obstacles faced along the way, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the enormity of the undertaking. It is helpful and often necessary to have a big picture view- a vision of where we want to be-or at least know the general direction in which to go, but when it comes to actually getting there, achievement happens piece by piece. In the words of the philosopher Lao Tzu, “The journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step.”

I ran a half marathon with 2 of my daughters this past weekend. It has been over 5 years since I have run and while I did all of the requisite training and was excited about the race, I was also extremely nervous about this audacious goal. The event took place in Charlotte, NC and the morning was perfect for running. Spring was in full bloom with bright green grass, colorful azaleas and dogwoods as far as the eye could see. The sky was clear blue with just a few puffy white clouds providing the occasional shade. The 3 of us ran side by side the entire time and our collective goal was to enjoy the run. We did not intend to set any personal records, which was a good thing because it was an extremely hilly route. In fact, it seemed to be 13.1 miles entirely up hill. With several miles under our belt, we rounded a corner to see yet another extremely long uphill looming ahead. Suddenly my legs felt heavy. Doubt and excuses flooded my head- this hill is too long, I’ve already run 8 miles…I’m tired… I don’t think I can do this….

I decided to see how far I could make it- to take it piece by piece. I found that if I kept my eyes focused just a few feet ahead of my stride, the hill didn’t seem so insurmountable. In fact, if I concentrated on the pavement right in front of me and put one foot in front of the other, I couldn’t see the steep incline. It was difficult, but the hill was doable. With each stride I felt a mini sense of accomplishment and before I knew it, the excuses in my head were replaced by a voice saying, “I can do this, I am doing this.”

It was exhilarating to successfully tackle that long hill. The view from the top was glorious- a mini “Rocky moment”-moment being the operative word, for we barely enjoyed the bliss before we faced another incline. The truth is, there were several more hills to climb before we crossed the finish line. Reaching one goal simply led to another. Isn’t that true in life as well?

It is easy to set our focus on the final goal and overlook the necessary steps we need to take to get there. Whether it is running a race, weight loss, job transformation or something else, the big picture can be daunting. Sustainable behavior change occurs piece by piece. Taking small, achievable steps will help to increase self-confidence and build a momentum of success that will ultimately lead to accomplishing your goals.