How is it going to work? What are the odds? Look how far I have to go! I’ve done so much and it’s not working. It shouldn’t be this hard. I’ll never get there.

Do you get stuck in the past or the future? Do you despair that it won’t work out? Do you feel like you’ll never get there? Do you look at all you’ve done and think “it’s just not meant to be”?

If you read my last post, you’ll know that I recently started an indoor climbing class. For a bookworm it’s a challenge. I took it up because I thought I would learn from it. I was right.

I’m learning that: Looking ahead is only for the beginning. Looking back is pointless. You need to keep up the momentum. Stop only when you need to. It only pays to focus on what you’re doing right now.

The next step

With climbing, when I focus only on the moment, I forget to be afraid. My over-active brain empties. I stop calculating the odds. I focus only on the task at hand. I may look up occasionally. Usually I am surprised by how far I’ve come. I don’t begrudge the difficulty of getting this far.

When I focus on each step, I forget be scared. I forget that I am way too far off the ground. I forget to freeze in fear. I forget that stopping is an option.

The feeling of the process

So far I have little technique but a little goes a long way. When I focus fully on what I am doing, I stop thinking about fear and odds and even the result. I am fully occupied in this moment, right now. That feels good. It feels really good.

Step by step focus gets results

When I focus on the present moment, the results matter less to me. Right now matters. Add together all those “right nows” and you find yourself at the top.

You got there one step at a time. Each step was valuable. Each step added to the last was exactly what it took to get here.

It takes what it takes

With this climbing exercise, I understand that it takes what it takes to get there. You can’t argue with it. It’s pointless to wish it were easier; it is what it is. Some steps are easy. Some steps are tricky.

  • Choose a goal
  • Start
  • Take a first step
  • Take more steps
  • Check your progress occasionally
  • Keep going
  • Don’t look back

Much of what my over-active brain does is storytelling. Action doesn’t need the story. Action just needs doing and then doing some more. My brain can find meaning later.

But in the moment of doing, all you need is the next step. Keep going. Don’t fall off the rock. If you do fall you have to start again. It’s still not wasted effort but it might feel that way.

How far have you come? What are you aiming for? What’s the next step. Stay on the rock.

One day I’ll climb with the ease of a monkey, and maybe think less. I look forward to it.