The First Step
One of the biggest differences between people that have big dreams and people that achieve big things is the ability to break it down into small steps and find joy in the process.
This month I will begin my relay run across the country with 7 teammates. Most people’s initial reaction when I say that I am running from Baltimore, MD to San Francisco, CA is a look that says ‘that is impossible’ or ‘you are joking.’ My usual response is to begin with why I am taking on this challenge. By explaining that I am running to connect and build support
for young adults fighting cancer the logistics of the challenge suddenly seem less of a barrier. After I explain the why, I usually explain to people how we break the run into 49 days with each person running an average of 12-16 miles a day split into 2-3 mile legs. I get joy from seeing the look on people’s face change as they start to understand but more importantly, begin to believe in my dream too.
We all have the capacity to dream big. I am reminded of this when I spend time with young children. I just graduated college a few weeks ago where I developed valuable analytical skills, but I had to make a conscious effort to make sure these skills never made me cynical. Often when we dream big, the initial dream, like any first idea, might never work. But if we stop at that point, then we never develop the skill to think through small steps of how we could begin working towards our seemingly impossible goals.
I have spent the better part of two years taking small steps closer towards my goal of running across the country. I haven’t even begun the first mile of my 4,000 mile relay but there is so much more to a dream than what everyone else sees. And often, people forget the process when looking at the outcomes. The very early morning runs all year long, fundraising efforts, calls to fire departments to see if my team can sleep on their floor, hours spent on Google maps, studying gear, and the mental preparation for this 49 day run are parts of the dream that most people will never see. However, the process and time devoted to this goal has been one of the best gifts I could give myself. I have gained self confidence, learned more about how I think, discovered some weaknesses, verbalized what support I need, and shown what Sydney Beason brings to a team while working towards this goal. I have also seen the impact of investing in other people’s dreams as relationships have formed and strengthened in my own life by other people joining in even if most of them will never take a
physical step on this run. In some capacity, they have each enabled me to take another step forward. This means we could all go much further if we continue to join in on other people’s goals.
The world would look different if we each gave ourselves the time to invest in our biggest goals. So what is it for you? Is it a story you’ve always wanted to make a book, a language you have always wanted to learn, an organization you’ve always admired from afar but never gotten involved in, a class you’ve always wanted to take, or a talent you know you have that you’ve never been vulnerable enough to share? I refuse to accept the narrative that “it’s not a good time in my life.” If that is what you truly believe then I hope you leave that dream behind and keep searching for a goal that you want to work towards regardless of what is going on around you. Your current life doesn’t stop when you take the time to invest in and work towards things that bring you joy. Start thinking about how you could take a small step towards that big goal that has always seemed unachievable.
Sometimes the first step is to simply say this dream out loud to someone as it creates a little more accountability than letting it stay just in your own head between your own two ears. And while you are busy working on your own goals, don’t forget to use these next four words as they can encourage someone to take their first step on a journey that could change their life. I believe in you.