Make a Difference Right Now – And Only Right Now

Writers may be the only ones who face this problem, but I doubt it.

On the day before a deadline you sit down at your desk to do the work that lies before you – to craft another set of words that will inspire and challenge your readers. You set your pen against the paper. You prepare for the words to flow.

They don’t.

Instead, the only thing that comes to mind is what you wrote the week before. Last week, you created something amazing. You got lots of encouraging feedback. You touched people. You made a difference in the world.

But that was last week, and now the pressure of that success weighs you down. You wonder:

“How can I live up to what I did last time? What if what I create isn’t as good?”

“What if I just got lucky last time?”

“How can I create something big and extraordinary?”

“How can I change the world when all my ideas seem so small and insignificant?”

You struggle to find the perfect idea. The more you think, the more you get stuck and the harder it gets. The deadline’s approaching. People are counting on you. People are expecting you to create something amazing.

But you have nothing.

***

We face a lot of pressure. Whether it comes from ourselves or from others, we often feel the need to be the best we can be, to produce work that leaves a mark on the world, and to touch people in a big way.

And while it’s true that we are more powerful than we think we are, the pressure to be great can destroy our ability to make a difference in the world. It can prevent us from taking action.

By worrying about having a massive impact, we forget the day to day actions of meaning and connection. We forget to ground our work in the here and now.

When I look at heroes such as Gandhi, Mother Teresa, or my father, I see not just the significant accomplishments, but a moment-by-moment way of living.

They served the people directly around them – showing compassion and kindness to everyone they met. They lived out their values not just in the big moments when the spotlight was on, but in daily life when no one was watching. They practiced. They did their work – step by step, day by day.

On some days it was easy. On other days they struggled. But they kept showing up. They kept making a difference.

So when you feel the weight of expectations, remember you don’t have to change the whole world right now. Just do what you can, with what you have, where you are. That is all you have to do.

One small, imperfect step is always better than a big idea you never act on.

now, what a glorious time
here, what an excellent place
this, what a work of grace
you, yes you

***

After a short break, you return to your desk, pick up your pen, and start working again.

Maybe what you create won’t be as good as last time. Maybe it won’t be good at all. But this is your practice. And right now, this is what you’re here to do.

That is enough.

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3 thoughts on “Make a Difference Right Now – And Only Right Now”

  1. Great stuff, great stuff, great stuff! You try to do too much and you do nothing. Aim for it all and you become paralyzed.

    Thinking small relaxes me. I look at too many files on my desk or a line of e-mails, some of them messy, and don’t know where to start . So I pipe down, take one thing , and do it. Feels good and then I do another. Next thing you know , the day is done and I got a lot accomplished. My view of it makes it easy or near impossible. Its never the thing I have to do but always my view of it, my current feeling toward it , that whips the task or whips me. So the work is in my head .

    A big lesson I keep with me involves occasionally taking a load of stuff to the dump in a trailer. The load accumulates over months and there are hundreds and hundreds of items to be unloaded. It seems daunting to unload it all by hand , but I take it one at a time. I just relax and take my time, and in no time, it’s done. I can’t do it all at once. But in pieces I can do a big chore.

    Writing is probably the same in some ways. Nothing too good comes from tenseness. But you relax, go for a little thing , keep your eye on something small, and it grows . And even if not, at least it eases the overwhelming feeling.

    Best of all, most people don’t need something big. They want something small. They don’t want something that costs money, they want our time. They don’t want a possession , they want our attention. It’s easy to say. Harder to do. Especially when you are busy, feeling tense, have a mountain of things to do, and not sure where to start. Well thanks Joshua. I am reminded where to start and what to do , at least for today.

    1. Great examples. I think your last point is really important. It’s often the small things, the everyday acts of human connection, that have the biggest impact in the long run.

  2. “One small, imperfect step is always better than a big idea you never act on.”

    I loveeeee that! Thank you for this inspiration! Now, back to writing 🙂

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