“Do not ruin today with mourning tomorrow.”
—Catherynne M. Valente
This short article was inspired by an email we received this morning from a new course student:
Dear Marc and Angel,
I have a big problem. I’m intelligent, highly educated in my field of study, and have achieved numerous professional accolades while working for large corporations over the years, but now that I’ve branched out on my own as an entrepreneur I’m stuck in a rut. I have dozens of good ideas that I can easily execute on, but every time I rev up and start taking massive action, I get overwhelmed and scared. I start second-guessing my choices and myself. Or I start worrying about and obsessing over all the possibilities for both success and failure, until everything comes to a halt and I’m utterly exhausted. There’s so much I want to achieve, and I know I’m capable if I could just get beyond this. What do you recommend?
An Overwhelmed Student
Our reply (an open reply to all who feel overwhelmed):
Dear Overwhelmed Student,
It’s time for a quick story about life…
Once upon a time there was a woman who had been lost in the desert for three whole days without water. Just as she was about to collapse, she saw what appeared to be a lake just a few hundred yards in front of her. “Could it be? Or is it just a mirage?” she thought to herself.
With the last bit of strength she could muster, she staggered toward the lake and quickly learned that her prayers had been answered: it was no mirage – it was indeed a large, spring-fed lake full of fresh water – more fresh water than she could ever drink in her lifetime. Yet while she was literally dying of thirst, she couldn’t bring herself to drink the water. She simply stood by the water’s edge and stared down at it.
There was a passerby riding on a camel from a nearby desert town who was watching the woman’s bizarre behavior. He got off his camel, walked up to the thirsty woman and asked, “Why don’t you have a drink, ma’am?”
She looked up at the man with an exhausted, distraught expression across her face and tears welling up in her eyes. “I am dying of thirst,” she said, “But there is way too much water here in this lake to drink. No matter what I do, I can’t possibly finish it all.”
The passerby smiled, bent down, scooped some water up with his hands, lifted it to the woman’s mouth and said, “Ma’am, your opportunity right now, and as you move forward throughout the rest of your life, is to understand that you don’t have to drink the whole lake to quench your thirst. You can simply take one sip. Just one small sip… and then another if you choose. Focus only on the mouthful in front of you, and all your anxiety, fear and overwhelm about the rest will gradually fade.”
Marc and Angel
Challenge yourself today to focus solely on the sip (task, step, etc.) you’re actually taking.
Honestly, that’s all life is – small, positive actions that you take moment by moment, and then one day when you look back it all adds up to something worthwhile – something that’s often far better, and different, than what you had imagined when you started.
So please leave a comment below and let us know:
What’s the one small, positive action you are going to focus on today?
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Photo by: dekoekkoek