After all my decades of life experience, I’ve recently adopted a new mantra: 10 steps forward, 9 steps back…

I used to say 2 steps forward, 1 step back, then revised that to 3 steps forward, 2 steps back—but that still didn’t really capture the reality of life, of how difficult it can be to reach goals, to accomplish anything remarkable or extraordinary, to change your life, any of it.

However, 10 steps forward, 9 steps back seems to cover it, at least generally. I recently remarked that I’ve concluded that perhaps persistence, perseverance, tenacity, etc., is even more important than hard work; that no matter the number of setbacks, disappointments, screw-ups, the “man plans, and God laughs”, the seeming futility of your quest, you must, over the long term, Just. Keep. Pushing. Forward.

So now, whenever I’m feeling disappointed, frustrated, exhausted, etc., and futility is setting in—I remind myself of the reality of life: 10 steps forward, 9 steps back.

Then I relax, and calmly resolve to Just. Keep. Pushing. Forward.

I’ll take the one in ten over nothing any day; nothing is failure, whereas one in ten is, ultimately, success.

And my new mantra dovetails nicely with the following poem:

“I was walking alone in the woods,
and came upon a split in the path;
two paths now diverged before me,
and I. . .I got poison ivy.”

~ Rand Eastwood


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