In order to make things better, you first have to stop making them worse.

It’s like floating around in a boat that has holes in it. While you may be successfully bailing out water, there’s always more water coming in. The goal isn’t to bail out water faster. It’s stopping everything, taking a moment to plug up the holes, bailing out the water remaining and continuing onward.

Accepting that reality is crucial.

But why is it so hard at times in our day to day lives to truly embrace that?

Maybe it comes down to having difficulties in identifying what the holes are in the first place (because the boat is just a analogy)? Or, and this is something I’ve experienced many different times, it’s the overwhelming amount of paths you can follow to fix an issue…and not actually sticking with one until the job is done.

There’s many different ways to address something. Many of those suggestions are incredibly helpful. But when the mind goes into “which one is the best?” mode it can easily run into the grips of perfectionism.

The truth is that half of the battle is identifying the problem.

If you can do that, you’re halfway there. But in the end, knowing what’s wrong isn’t enough.

The other half of the battle is deciding a course of action to take and actually sticking with it. Arguably, that’s the most difficult part of all of this. Disciplining yourself to dig in the same spot, over and over again, having faith that you will reach the destination.

But if you’ve never traveled that path before and have absolutely no context for what’s possible, it can be pretty scary at times. It’s can be pretty compelling to start all over, try something new, go back to what you were doing before…mainly do anything but what you had decided to do.

What you know is comfortable…even if your wisdom tells you it’s not for you anymore.

A while back, I had this dream about life working like the rings of a tree.

Each of these rings signifies a point in your life of growth. In each ring is a story. A lesson. A trial. But as you hear the calling to adventure and traverse the challenge in front of you, you expand to the next ring.

The rings are about expansion and depth.

Some rings tell stories of growth and others of great drought. But they are all part of who you are and who you will become.

In my own journey, I’ve been stuck at this single ring for quick some time. I’ve made attempts. I’ve succeeded and failed. I’ve risen to the occasion and quit a few times. But in my heart, I know exactly what I have to do, what I need to let go of and what I need to bring in to move gently into the next ring.

There’s a threshold I have to cross and it’s rooted in time. The trick is, I’m uncertain of the amount it will take to reach the summit. All I know is that what I’ve done in the past caused me to slide right back down the mountain.

Blind commitment to the future.

Pure faith in the present.

Ah, the lessons make sense.

Because long ago, I went through such extreme losses that both my faith and belief in what was possible for me went right out the window. That’s what devastating moments can do to you. It can make you doubt everything about yourself.

I think more than anything, it’s important to calm down those voices of criticism and come back to what you know to be true.

You’re valuable. You’re worthy.

And if you give yourself what you need to heal, you will.

But you have to give it to yourself.

Where I stand now after one of the most stressful periods of my life is coming back to an idea that made its way to me a long time ago.

It could be better than you’ve ever imagined.

That’s what faith has been telling me. The cost of admission is my wholehearted belief in that idea. This ring of life has taught me more through suffering than I ever could have imagined.

To stay in the moment. To see the future but recognize the importance of these steps in front of me. To walk with my heart open instead of trying to see exactly what’s going to happen. To know that while I can’t see it, I am being watched over every single step of the way.

There’s a ring to this.

Evan Sanders