Lift only one leg at a time, or how to move forward successfully

Photo courtesy of Paul Goyette

 

One <blank> at a time. You can fill in the blank with many possible answers. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you recover from alcoholism or other diseases? One day at a time. There’s even a travel hacking site that I read often called One Mile At A Time.

And while it’s not a phrase that you hear very commonly, I’ll add my own: How do you move? One leg at a time.

Life as a tripod

I believe our lives have many proverbial legs, and that we are standing on all or most of them at any given time. Think of a tripod, but one with more than three legs, with each leg corresponding to a different aspect of our life. Your legs may be slightly different, but here are some legs that come to mind (feel free to add your own in the comments below):

  • Your social interactions
  • Your love life
  • Your ambitions and projects
  • Your health
  • Your finances
Your life? (Photo courtesy of Andrew Dunn Photo and Wikipedia.

Your life. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Dunn Photo and Wikipedia)

Build a strong foundation first

Here you are, resting on all of these legs. And I feel very strongly that we can only make solid progress in one area of our life when we have a strong foundation on all other areas of our life. And this may be easiest to see by counterexample:

  • If you embark on a new relationship but don’t have a strong social connection, you may be apt to put too much pressure on the relationship.
  • If you embark on a new project but don’t have the support of your loved ones, you may feel lonely and unappreciated, like no one understands.
  • If you work to get your finances in order but don’t have your health, you’re likely to have much more difficulties keeping focused.

If more than one leg is not solid, you’re going to destabilize yourself, you’re going to put too much pressure on the few remaining legs, and you’ll be more likely to fall.

How to work toward a stable foundation

So what should you do if you have many legs that are out of kilter?

First, I would start by being grateful for what you do have. It’s unlikely that all of your legs are out of whack.

The second task is to shore up the legs that are solid as much as possible. This means to make sure that you have the support of your friends, make sure you and your loved ones are on the same page, etc. Get as solid as you can with what you have.

The third task you have is to move. Pick up a leg, any leg, and move it. Don’t get stuck in the way things are. Pick one leg and see if you can set it down on firm ground. If that doesn’t work, pick another leg. And I’m talking about a single leg at a time here. While it’s possible to have lots of balls legs in the air, I caution you not to move too many at the same time. We are a fragile table, or tripod, or whatever analogy you want to use. Make sure you have legs to stand on first. And if you fall, you at least won’t have fallen completely, and will have others to help you get back up again.

But enough from me. What legs are you trying to move? What legs are you keeping stable as you go?

Mike Pumphrey

Mike Pumphrey

I'm the founder and author of Unlikely Radical, a site to help people succeed with money, achieve their goals, and live intentionally.

I offer a free phone consultation to anyone who is interested in changing their financial narrative. Are you ready? Click here for details.
Mike Pumphrey
Posted on February 28, 2013