One step at a time

Visitors climb the Cahokia Indian Mounds near St. Louis, Missouri, April 2008

Visitors climb the Cahokia Indian Mounds near St. Louis, Missouri, April 2008

“The elevator to success is out of order. You’ll have to use the stairs…one step at a time.” —  Joe Girard

Years ago when I wanted to lose about 5 pounds, I was able to accomplish that goal by making just one small change.  I worked on the third floor of a large building, and I began walking the two flights of stairs instead of using the elevator.  Since my job involved some errands, I frequently made more than one trip up and down per day, but it was never unduly difficult or time consuming.  In fact, I came to see that taking the stairs for just a couple of flights can often be quicker than an elevator, especially going down.  In just a week or two, my weight had come down.  I don’t think I ever took the elevator in that building again, even when I was pregnant.

Now when I’m with Jeff someplace and he wants to take the elevator, I take the stairs and see who gets there first.  It’s a fun game for me, and a fairly painless way to get some exercise.

It’s tempting to look for shortcuts in life, but often we actually lose time by cutting corners.  More importantly, being in a hurry adds immeasurably to our stress.  No matter what I’m doing — driving, cooking, cleaning, or anything else — the amount of stress I feel is directly proportional to how quickly I’m trying to get finished.  I think that principle applies to long range goals as well.  When I start dwelling on all the goals I had hoped to accomplish by my mid-fifties, it can be downright depressing until I pay attention to what I have already done, and the direction in which I’m heading.

Next time you get impatient with your progress, whether it’s a big project or a small daily task, it might help to remind yourself that taking one step at a time will almost always get you there– and often, you’ll arrive in better shape for having allowed yourself to skip the shortcuts.


  1. We were discussing something similar the other day. Life has become so easy and we are paying for it dear. I have started free yoga classes for the ladies in our compound. We gather on the terrace five days a week. I have benefitted more – lost one kg in two weeks probably because of climbing all the way up the four floors (no elevators here and our apartment is on the ground floor).
    interesting picture! Where does it lead to?

    • Hi Bindu, the steps simply lead to the top of the Indian Mounds, from where you can get a nice view of the city. There is a nearby museum that tells about Cahokia culture and has some interesting displays. You can read more about it here. I wish I could come to your Yoga class! I have been thinking of learning Yoga to help with joint pain. I can imagine that climbing four floors would definitely be good exercise!

  2. Bobby Harris

    Sometimes the challenge of getting a thing done quickly is good, but the scenic route is nearly always more delightful.

    • I agree! I am also way more relaxed if I am not in a hurry. I try to build in enough time to allow me not to be rushed, but sometimes that’s not possible. Nice to hear from you; I was just thinking of you the other day and wondering how you are doing.

      • Bobby Harris

        Doing fine. I am trying to hold back the jungle in my flower beds. Learning to garden in Indiana is a challenge, but then we all need challenges. Keeping you all in my prayers.

  3. Needed this! THANKS!

    • You’re welcome, Barb…I need it too, especially lately! Thanks for being here!

  4. Carolyn

    Yes, one step and one day at a time. Love you all.

    • Thank you Carolyn. I badly needed a day to go right today after two very difficult days, but today was SQUANDERED on a computer problem that should never have happened and is still not resolved, despite Norton’s “senior” technicians spending about 5 hours on it. Please keep praying we’ll have a good one tomorrow! Love you!

  5. For years my grandmother had the words to a song by Christy Lane posted on the wall by her bedroom door. It was “One day at a time sweet Jesus, That’s all I’m asking of you. Just give me the strength do every day what I have to do.” I thought it was lovely but it was probably some years before I appreciated it the way she obviously did. Now I think of it ALL the time. I also hear the song by Alabama in my head frequently, “I’m in a hurry to get things done, I rush and rush until life’s no fun.” I try to slow down when things are moving so fast that I am singing those words. I too take the steps at work and try to park far away. Unfortunately it hasn’t taken any weight off but it might help give the ol’ ticker a year or two. Thinking of you dear friend. God bless. Love ya.

    • I think I need to start parking far away too. Drew does that to save time, but I need to do it to incorporate steps for those times I don’t drive. Today was another one of those “fish I’d throw back” days so far, but a more petty irritation in the great scheme of things (see my comment to Carolyn). Sorry I missed your call earlier, I was on the phone with computer technicians in India who I could not have called back :-).

      • Interestingly enough the one who was helping me at the last (who knew a lot about computers) was in Chennai, where our friends live. Of course Chennai is a HUGE city, but still…

  6. Sheila

    Julia, although the going is tough right now, I know that you are tougher. I am thinking of you, knowing your steps are going to lead to a good place. Always, Sheila

    • Sheila, I am so grateful to have your comforting presence with me here every day! I really appreciate your thoughts and prayers, they mean so much!

  7. Beth

    When in a hurry move slower. A Korean lady told me this when I returned moments after smearing a pedicure. I’ve applied that wise saying to many a situation. Love and prayers to you and your family.

    • Thanks, Beth, that’s definitely one to remember. We appreciate your kind thoughts and prayers! Thanks for being here.

  8. That’s such a perfectly true observation, HA. Admittedly, most of my days just breeze by but I try and do too many errands when I have to use the car and it’s a gong show. I just really do not enjoy driving anymore. Edmonton drivers will push you to the edge and then nudge you over. I really should take your advice and spread them out over a couple of day so I’m not hurrying from place to place. It’s like the guy who’s rushing in and out of lanes to get to the red light, HA.

    • That rushing to the red light business would be hilarious if it wasn’t so pathetic. I’m glad to hear someone else commenting on it, I have to make a sarcastic remark every time I see someone doing it. I’m the same way about driving; I don’t like to do it, and would much rather walk if I have the time and it’s less than 3 miles to where I’m going. I have the same problem with trying to cram too many errands into one span of time, then I end up running late and that makes driving even worse.

      • HA, I can relate to the sarcastic part. Some city council person here was talking about ‘RAISING’ the speed limit on a local freeway. I was livid, they already go 40 over and raising it will be a license to kill. I wish they’d put a thing in cars that only allow them to go the speed limit, are insurance would be so much cheaper.

        • Dave Barry has written about the “national pretend speed limit” because they never really enforce it and people drive way over it all the time. If you ask someone about it they will tell you that it’s OK to go 10-20 mph over the speed limit but these same people will always slow down if they see a police car. 🙂 I wish they would enforce the speed limit more, that would do a lot to bring in revenue to all these cash-starved governments! On second thought, maybe I don’t wish that…hee-hee.

          • YES! 1,000 percent on board with you my dear. There was just a locals news story about the police wanting to impound cars when they stop a habitual speeder. The guy who is constantly ticketed in excess of 50 over the limit….I say AMEN but law makers aren’t on board…..I wish I was a Judge sometimes…urgg

  9. Many times I wish I could get on the elevator to success, but I remind myself of all the wonderful people I’ve met while climbing the stairs, especially when I have to stop at a landing to catch my breath… Thanks for this encouraging post!

    • Very true. We do meet lots of people on our journeys and it makes the path easier. I’m so happy you like the post! Thanks for your visits and comments.

  10. That’s a great analogy, Julia!

    • Thanks, I am so happy you like it!


  1. The little steps | Defeat Despair

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