Figure Walking up Steps with Arrow Pointing Up

Step by Step

The right steps at the right time

One conversation that we have many many times with students and parents is the importance of taking the right steps, and not skipping any. Although this seems like a simple task, it’s amazing how it seems to be human nature to want to skip steps and/or do them out of order in an attempt to expedite a process. We all want to obtain that proverbial golden egg, but in reaching for it too quickly, we often delay our progress and actually sabotage our progress towards our goals in the process of trying to expedite it.

Two examples we use to explain the rationale for doing things in the right order and not skipping any steps, and ultimately highlighting the need to have a plan that makes sense, preferably with the insight of people who know how to make a plan that makes sense given your goal.

The things you’re doing WRONG!

Baking bread, if you don’t allow the yeast to do its job before baking the bread, you will end up with awfully flat bread, you’ll look at it in the pan scratching your head while reviewing your directions wondering where you went wrong. Sure, not waiting for the yeast saved you 10-20 minutes, but the end product sure didn’t turn out the way you expected.

Changing your tire. We use this one all the time because changing your tire is a practical life skill that we believe every person should know how to do (calling AAA doesn’t count!) We get all the tools we need, have everyone stand around and get ready to change the tire, then ask “What is the first step?” the answers are generally all VERY wrong “Jack up the car!” is the most common. The few students who get it right are often ones who have learned the hard way in the past, they give the correct answer “Loosen the lug nuts while the car is on the ground”. For those of you who have never changed a tire, or have forgotten, loosening the lug nuts while the car is jacked often results in two things, killing yourself to turn them while the tire spins and spins, or the car falling off the jack.

If you make the above mistake while baking bread you will probably still eat the bread but will certainly not have the end result you were looking for, and if you don’t loosen the lug nuts on your tire before jacking up the car, you will probably still get it off, but the process will be much harder and longer than it needs to be.

Take things SLOW!

So how does this all apply to our daily lives?

We see it with nearly every person we work with. The absolute desire to “move the process along”. I don’t have to put you in line at the DMV or stick you in rush hour traffic to point out to you that we all hate waiting for things, no matter how important we know those things are. So its human nature to want to speed the process up by eliminating steps, or rushing steps. The problem is, just like the lug nuts and the bread, there is a correct and appropriately paced way of doing things, and an incorrect and rushed way of doing things. When we are talking about a sustainable lifestyle, complete with good decisions and forward progress, and absent of substances and bad decisions, there is a proven appropriately paced way of doing things. The alternative often results in our lives in collapse of our plan altogether. The irony is that people want things fast, and the collapse of their plan results in starting the ENTIRE process all over again.

Do you have any examples of rushing or skipping steps?