One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I don’t know how many times I’ve either said or thought, “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.” I know every time I have, it was not a positive thing.

But yesterday that changed.

You see, I was having lunch with my friend, Leah Crichton and we were talking about various things. Leah said those very words and I had an epiphany. I realized right then that feeling that way was actually a very good thing.

I suppose it may have been the context of the conversation that did it. So here is my rationale.

When you take a step forward, you are making progress. Maybe you have been trying to find a publisher or agent or a new job. When you take that step you are feeling positive; the world is your oyster and the possibilities are limitless.

Except things don’t always work out exactly like you hoped. Maybe the results you were expecting were delayed or different than you imagined. The optimism you had been feeling comes crashing down around your ears.

That is the two steps back. You think you have lost ground.

The thing is, usually that step forward has meant your horizons have expanded. What is possible after the step forward is much more than before. When things don’t happen exactly as planned and you look toward the horizon it seems further off.

That’s only because there is more of it to explore.

And that was the epiphany for me.

Let me illustrate with this example:

  1. you want to become a published author so you write a book and begin to pitch it to various agents and publishers.
  2. You pitch the book and get a few nibbles of interest. None of the nibbles pan out. You get a comment or two (maybe). It knocks you down a peg but you keep trying.
  3. You eventually land a publisher. Once again, excitement reigns!
  4. You find out it will be 2+ years to see your book in print. You are knocked down a couple more pegs. Feels like you have lost ground when in reality you still have a book coming out in 2+ years. You are further ahead than ever before.
  5. Book (finally) comes out. You watch Amazon eagerly to see it skyrocket up the charts and…nothing. All your promotion and work to get people interested hasn’t paid off. You think you are a failure. How many pegs were you knocked down this time? Still, you are now a published author; something not many people can claim (at least as a percentage of the population). You really are further ahead because you have gone through the process and know how it works.
  6. and so on.

At each step your expectations grow because there is more potential. You only think you are taking two steps back when things don’t exactly work out.

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