By: Eric Hodgdon

Regardless of what you set out to do, knowing how to go about it is half the battle. Monumental feats are made possible through incremental gains.

When I purchased my house 11 years ago, I spent the first two weeks doing as much work on the inside before I moved in. While working, I heard the distinct sounds of hockey pucks being shot into a net across the street. I figured it was just one of the kids in the neighborhood. Now, some 11 years later, this 21-year-old is in the NHL.

When we see someone who has had some success or has made it through a major challenge or setback, we think “they must have had a push, or they got certain breaks that you and I didn’t get.” Going for our dreams or working through setbacks or challenges is never easy – for anybody. It certainly wasn’t easy for this kid across the street, nor for me after I lost my daughter Zoi to suicide four years ago.

But, no matter the challenge or goal, it’s never the monumental task we make it out to be. We simply can’t go from where we are today to where we want to be in just one large step. It’s actually a set of incremental steps that we have to take – like those that the kid across the street took, like I took after losing Zoi. But, it’s up to us and no one else.

Here are three ways you can navigate deep challenges or bring that big dream into the light!

The first thing is that we have to have a vision of what we want. This boy across the street had a vision that he wanted to play in the NHL. He knew setbacks were coming his way, yet he stayed focused on his NHL dream. When I lost Zoi four years ago, I knew that there was a light on the other side of that chasm that I had to cross. I had to see that there was more than just surviving the grief. There was just as much opportunity to thrive.

The second thing we have to do is to set milestone goals, which are reasonable checkpoints along the journey towards your goal. The boy across the street didn’t just get drafted into the NHL at 19. His milestones were deliberate practice and playing in games through elementary, middle, high school, college, the Jr. Olympic team, and then to the NHL. For me, getting to the other side of the chasm after I lost Zoi meant that I had to incrementally find and make peace with the situation of what was. I had to forgive, not only myself, but Zoi, too. Then I felt gratitude for what is in my life. And with that gratitude, abundance of more and consistently better days.

And the third thing, and probably the most important thing, is that we have to commit to that sometimes long, boring, and tedious work that we’re faced with along the way. None of this is going to be handed to us. And, there’s no one coming to give it to us. But, as you as you start to do the work, good things do start to come your way. One thing to note: If you just go through the motions, you’re not going to affect any change in your life. The kid across the street, he was deliberately practicing his hockey skills daily. With the loss of Zoi, it was going to take time to navigate the grief and I had to the boring, but deliberate work to get back on my feet – exercising, eating better, sleeping better – all of which took time and most of that was a struggle!

But here’s the thing, most people will not do the work required. Why? Because when things get hard, most people stop. I get it, it is difficult! But that is where the work pays off. It all adds up until you reach that monumental goal that you want to reach, or you have worked through that massive challenge you didn’t think you would survive, let alone thrive from.

Every summer when that kid, now a man, comes home from the hockey season, he is still outside for hours taking shots on net. And, four years after I lost Zoi, I’ve had to keep doing the deliberate work to continue to thrive in life.

If I can impart any tip for you today, it’s that it is never too late to go for that monumental goal, or to navigate your way through that big challenge. As long as you have a beating heart in your chest, you can affect change in your life – the way you want it. You just have to work for it.

As always, I hope this helps.

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