Walk It Back

I remember going to the doctor when I was a kid. Some things stand out, like the doctor saying to me, “Stick out your tongue and say ah.” Going to get checked out for a cold was never something I found unpleasant, but waiting in the waiting room could get boring. However, it was not boring if my favorite magazine was available.

In the back of the magazine was a maze. I would be in the waiting room of the doctor’s office so absorbed in doing the maze that when I was called to go in it was hard to get me to put down the magazine.

I liked doing mazes. I found them engaging. Some were harder than others. One day, I discovered a shortcut to doing the mazes I found in this magazine. I did them backwards. I have never investigated the reason why, but doing a maze backwards – meaning starting from the finish line and tracing it back to the beginning – was always easier than starting from the beginning.

I believe there is a lesson here.

At times in life, we are faced with daunting challenges. This can leave us overwhelmed. We might feel as if we have entered a maze and that our goal is not simply out of sight but unreachable. If that is the case, we might want to work backwards from our goal. Walk it back.

What do I mean by, “Walk it back?” Simple. Find someone who has gone through a challenge similar to the one you are facing. Then, deconstruct what it took for them to reach their goal. Essentially, go backwards, tracing what they accomplished all the way back to when they began. You now have a set of action steps to use in the pursuit of your goal. This success map will help you surmount the challenge ahead of you.

The path to personal success is often like a maze. Things can get daunting, frustrating and confusing. Yet, if we take a fresh look at what we want to accomplish, by contextualizing it in a new way, we might just find the path forward to be simpler.

Even if you cannot find someone who has succeeded at accomplishing the goal you are aiming for, give walking things back a try. Sometimes breaking things down to steps, starting with your goal and working backwards, can help simplify things. Good luck.

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*Authors note: You might see this column pop up online in a newspaper, under the name Both Sides. I am publishing this column here first at CYInterview.com. For a bunch of years, I have been writing newspaper columns. Since my columns have received a good response on CYInterview, I thought I would share it with you. Hope you enjoy.

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