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.

This post was originally published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Judy from Pennsylvania

    “The elevator to success is out of order. You’ll have to use the stairs…one step at a time.” This seems like a metaphor for what many of us in self-imposed isolation are experiencing during this confusing pandemic. We almost could say to ourselves, “The elevator to quickly reaching our normal ways of living again is seriously out of order. We have to use the stairs, one step at a time, and we aren’t even sure how many floors this strange building has!”

    So we do this one day at a time. And one of the things I’m enjoying when I wake up too early in the morning, as often happens, might surprise you. I’m methodically going through your old blog posts and copying a lot of the quotes that you use. What a treasure they are! I have no idea about when I might pick one out of the basket to include in a note or card to someone, but I will. I’m even thinking about creating my own cards, just for something enjoyable to do while I do the daily stairstep.

    I’m curious……how to you manage to organize the quotes so that you can pick out just the right one for something you write on your blog? I imagine that you must have hundreds of them tucked away, like little treasures that are stored and carefully taken out to gaze at from time to time.

    • Judy, I’m so happy and flattered that you are reading again through my posts, looking for quotes to use in your own life! That made me so happy to read. Of course, I’m just passing along the wisdom of others, as you are now doing. I don’t have any truly organized system of my quotes. I have a huge Word .doc file of them where I paste new ones that I find, and I just do a word search within that document for any topic I’m seeking. I have countless post-it notes in dozens of books (some books have a dozen or more flags!) of quotes I thought might make a good post. So if I ever go back to writing original posts again, I’ll have plenty of unused quotes from which to draw. The photos have become more of a challenge, since I like to match the photo to the quote and many of the quotes are so abstract that no illustration immediately springs to mind. That’s why I started using public domain images in the later years (also because many of the freely available images are far superior to my own snapshots). There also are some good online sources for quotes. One of my favorites is The Quote Garden, which has an organization system I could only dream of. Thanks so much for these words of encouragement. I am so happy you have found the blog helpful during this shutdown.

Thanks for encouraging others by sharing your thoughts:

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