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I don’t know what there is about the month of September, but I find that I am more nostalgic at this time of year than any other. Childhood memories seem to be clearer than other times of the year and I find myself reminiscing on them often. One memory that hit me today was the many “explorations” me and my brothers would embark on while we were growing up. Since we lived in a rural area, we would frequently spend our weekends going on hikes through the woods. We would lose sense of where we were, and the greatest fun was trying to find our way back home. I remember one day we encountered a stream that we had to work our way across. There was no bridge, so it was important to navigate the stepping stones that peeked over the top of the water, to make it to the other side where we were going. The truth to be known is that the water was not deep at all and we could have just as easily waded across. But then, we would have to deal with mom being a little upset if we came home with wet sneakers or soaked jeans. So, we carefully plotted our route over the creek, having to work our way downstream to find a good crossing, but eventually we got to the other side and continued the adventure of the hike.
When it comes to the adventure of life itself, there are often “streams” that need to be crossed. There are places we want to get to or goals we want to achieve, but there is a barrier that stands in the way that must be navigated. It is inevitable. Sometimes we can cross dry. Sometimes we get a little wet. Other times, we have to go out of our way to find a proper place to cross that takes a little more time. However, as long as we know what stones to step on, we can cross safely, arrive at our goal, and continue on in the adventure. It does not matter what the name of your “stream” is. Maybe it’s a business endeavor, a financial decision, a weight loss goal, your spiritual walk, a relationship issue, or some other goal. The stepping stones are the same. So, what are those stepping stones to our success?
Once you know where you are and where you want to get to, you must strategize a plan of approach. Brainstorm the possibilities and determine the best approach. Ask yourself: Do I have the resources I need to make it happen? Are the resources within my grasp? Is it something I can achieve with the right resources? What help will I need along the way? Realize that the educated decision you make and the strategy you take is the best one based on the knowledge you have at that time. Only time will reveal its results.
Next, it is time to implement the plan. Discovering a way across one’s stream is of no value if all we do is stand on the bank looking at the way across, but never take the action necessary to cross over. Strategy requires action to become a reality. Knowledge holds little value unless it is backed by behavior. Time is of the essence. Too much time is often spent over-processing the possible perils, resulting in potential possibilities never being realized. Take the old Nike’s approach and Just Do It!
The next three stepping stones are in close proximity to each other. After the plan has been implemented, take some time to evaluate your progress. This step is pretty simple. All you need to ask yourself is if the action is working or not. Is it getting you where you want to be or somewhere else? If it is working…great! Keep going! If it is not working, one has to determine if it is worth continuing or not. Does it simply need more time to reveal the results or is it “dead in the water”? If it’s dead, don’t waste your time trying to resurrect it. If it looks like it’s not working, kill it and try something else. If it needs more time, determine how much time will be necessary and how much time you are willing to give it before you “pull the plug”.
Chances are that if the plan and strategy is working, it is working well in some areas and lacking in others.  Answer and define the 5 W’s about the plan. What is working well? Why is it working? Who is making it work?  When is it working (is it time specific)? Where is it working (is it location specific)?
The last step is to refine the process. In regards to the things that are working well, one needs to ask if there is any way to improve on the current strategy to make it more effective and efficient. The truth is that, regardless how proficient something seems, there is always some way it can be improved. The parts of the strategy and plan that are not going as well or seem broken need to be assessed as to whether they can be tweaked and refined to make them more profitable.
These stepping stones of success toward your goal are repeated over and over again across the stream. Keep repeating them until you reach your goal. As long as your keep applying the steps, you will reach the desired end and be able to proceed on to the next stream in your adventure.

About Tim

Timothy Golden is a husband and father of 3, pastor, teacher, coach and speaker. His passion is helping people grow deeper in their relationship with God and to overcome obstacles that keep them from pursuing their God-given dreams.