Chapter by Chapter (Vita. Consilio. 02.02.17)

Someone once described life to be like the chapters of a book. I can’t disagree with that assessment. Every chapter is dedicated to a scene. And a series of chapters make up the whole story. Without those scenes, there would be no interesting story to read.

Life is the same way. Life doesn’t happen all at once. It has a rhythm and reason to it. One event follows after another event. There is a sequence, a chain of actions, which afford us order, logical, and sense. As much as we’d like for there to be no timeline, there is.

Instead, it comes to us in stages that are often very different from each other. Being twenty-six is not the same thing as being sixteen or even being thirty-six. As we age, we change in many ways. There would be no interesting life if we didn’t move through stages.

We don’t reach our goals all in a day’s work either. Goals are reached in stages. If you want to graduate from college, it will take approximately four years of perseverance. If you want to get married, it’s unlikely you will be walking down the aisle tomorrow.

Some of us do not progress smoothly through various stages in life for several reasons. For one, we let fear settle in. Since the next stage is often hidden from us, we allow what we don’t know to overpower what we should be doing with the knowledge we have.

We set BIG goals but somewhere along the line, we get scared because it’s all out of order, we’re stuck, the path ahead looks foggy at best, and nothing is happening the way we want. Yes, there is an element of uncertainty in goal setting but “the unknown” is not permission for fear.

Another reason is that we get discouraged. When it’s not happening all at once or as quickly and as much as we would like, we consider it a setback instead of an opportunity to learn. Murray Smith, co-author of The Answer, writes “You will either achieve your goals as you imagined or receive the insights into what may be necessary to reach your goals.”

We set goals so specific and methodical that they’re impossible to reach. We mess ourselves up in a way. Because when we have set these hugely precise goals and we don’t live up to them, we feel like we’ve failed and that leads to throwing in the towel and giving up.

Master Certified Life Coach Cassi Christiansen said, “When I talk about goals with clients, there’s a heaviness and a feeling of ‘This is what I’m supposed to do. If I’m not doing it, I’m not successful or normal.’ Goals come from your head and dictate what you think you ‘should’ be doing.”

And then, there is the sharp dagger of time and those nagging supposed-to’s. We think, ‘If I had known it would take this long, I would have never started’ or ‘The time elapsing for this isn’t worth it.’ Positive, lasting results are never produced overnight.

It takes nine months for a baby to be born. Twelve years to become a teenager. Eighteen years to learn how to drive. Sixty-five years to qualify for “over 65 status”. Six months to build a Rolls-Royce. And as long as you want to change a habit or to change your mind.

We have a chronic tendency to underestimate the stages we must go through and grow through. The stages our goals must go through are no different. You will only know what the next chapter holds for you if you live the chapter you’re in. You won’t understand why chapter ten happened the way it did until you have read and understood the previous nine chapters.

Sequence. Order. Pattern. Flow. Progression. Embrace the stages so you can live and thrive according to the requirements of that stage. Not stuck in what was. Nor worried about what is next. Just making good progress in the chapter you’re in with all your heart until you reach the end of the story.

Until next time, Vita. Consilio.
(Life. Intentionally.)

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