Independence is not granted. Independence is earned. Step by step and action by action, independence is a state of being one creates for him or herself by consistently choosing actions that enlarge his or her range of options. To paraphrase legendary college football coach Lou Holtz, âIf you know where you want to be, choose the option that will get you closer to your goal.â
When we take the time to discern our choices and make them in alignment with our ultimate goal, we earn our own independence. But independence seldom arrives in one fell swoop.
“This is the highest wisdom that I own; freedom and life are earned by those alone who conquer them each day anew.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
There are many programs and philosophies that teach âone day at a time,â or âjust for today…â. This makes sense, because the only personal time zone that remotely comes close to being under our control is right now. RIGHT NOW. The past is gone; the future has yet to arrive. Each day, when we commit to ourselves and our goals, we are taking steps to our independence.
Letâs assume, for the sake of discussion, that we really bungled a choice yesterday. In keeping with the âjust for todayâ philosophy, we can review yesterdayâs decision, glean the lesson from it and apply it to todayâs actions. Punishing ourselves for screwing up doesnât do anyone any good and keeps us from growing and changing. Therefore, dispassionately assess your choice, adjust your behavior and move forward. Easier said than done, but it must be done.
Thatâs why we get plenty of practice.
“Don’t be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Â Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones will tend to take care of themselves.” – Dale Carnegie
Itâs no accident that our âlittle jobsâ are little. We learn and hone our skills on âsmall jobs.â Furthermore, small hurdles are training grounds for bigger hurdles, quite frankly. As an aside, my youngest daughter is fortunate enough to usually get one mini-lecture from me en route to school every morning. Her sisters, who are both away at college, probably miss Momâs Life Lessonsâ¢ (actually, probably not – but they will, once they have a kid!). But I digress.
A recent mini-lecture that evolved into this post is that hurdles arenât there to punish you. They are there to see if youâre serious. If you throw up your hands and bail at the first hurdle, then you are certainly not going to be able to clear anything higher down the road to your goal. Sometimes hurdles are directions – indications that this particular goal is actually not for you. Your path lies/leads elsewhere. That said, persistence in continuing to grow into larger jobs is essential to achieving independence.
“A door opens to me. I go in and am faced with a hundred closed doors.” – Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by poet W.S. Merwin
I used this quote in a previous blogpost, “When is it okay to give up?” and I use it again here because it is so apt when discussing persistence. Oftentimes, we focus on achieving a goal, only to realize upon reaching it, that weâve just begun. Imagine setting climbing a mountainÂ as your goal. In anticipation of this feat, youâve set as your first goal achieving the fitness necessary to complete this task.
In preparation, youâve spent the previous 3 months at the gym, doing leg lifts and squats until you could bounce a quarter off your hamstrings. You’ve got the conditioning of the 1980 U.S. Olympics hockey team. The day of the climb, youâve got your gear packed; your Clif bars, dried fruit and Camelbak filled. Youâve packed your insanely expensive Sharper Image combo declination compass and Sherpa translator. You are ready.
At the crest of the first hill, you see a small wash before you, but it is backed by a craggy, narrow path that leads to the actual summit. You have two choices. Stay here or press on. Each time you reach a plateau (figuratively or literally), you are greeted by a bigger vista that reveals more possibilities. When you commit to your ultimate goal every day, keeping in mind your motivations for doing so, your independence is assured.
Hang in there. Youâre worth it.
Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establish Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter asÂ @mckra1g orÂ @WWDr1ve (Women With Drive Foundation)