Discussion The Stepping Stone Mentality

A lot of the posts I see on this subreddit boil down to the same sort of approach:

Willpower. Discipline. Pushing through it.

While that may work for some people, for a lot of us, this just isn’t enough. Forcing ourselves to do things that we don’t see the value in causes us stress, anxiety, and emotional instability. Not to mention that it can be downright dangerous to push ourselves to do a task we’re not ready for without tackling the steps that come before it. In a lot of cases, we end up further behind than where we started. I needed something different.


The biggest step I took in successfully taking on my responsibilities and growing as a person was to reframe my life in terms of tangible personal benefits. To do this, I came up with a metaphor to help me visualize: I view every action in life as a stepping stone.

Everything I’m currently capable of as a person is made possible because of countless decisions made by a past version of myself. For example, I’m only able to drive my car because I took a test to get my license, and I only passed that test through learning and practicing how to drive. I was only able to learn and practice because I had the time to do so, and I only had free time because I tried to keep my homework under control in high school. We could take this kind of thinking back further and further until the day we were born, because all of our decisions form a path of stepping stones that brought us to where we are today.

In the same way, then, our current decisions act as stepping stones into our futures, too. The things we do are all capable of both widening our potential, and allowing us to accomplish even more than we’re able to right now. This is the part of the path we have control over.


I like to keep this in mind whenever I must do things that feel like work to me. Rather than pushing through aimlessly, and doing things for the sake of doing things, I get creative. “If I do this task, what doors are opened up for me because of my hard work?”

Take dishes. I’ve left sinks full of them for months because of a lack of motivation, and forcing myself to do them made me feel terrible inside. Instead, though, I now tell myself “I can’t try out new recipes if I don’t have pots and pans to cook with, and I can’t eat that amazing food if I don’t have plates or cutlery. I also can’t have friends over if my kitchen is a mess, and I definitely can’t have a hot date over either.”

I turn things like washing dirty dishes into a prerequisite for a future that is so much better than the present that I start to get excited about doing them, because I love the thought of the potential they unlock. Simple and boring tasks become stepping stones to bigger and better things.


At heart, a lot of us are full of big dreams and aspirations, but we can only achieve those things if we build up the foundations for stability to get there. We need to break down our paths, and truly understand how each step leads to the next. We’re simple creatures, driven by rewards like carrots on sticks. To think in terms of stepping stones, though, is to think multiple steps ahead, and to plan out a path that our future selves will thank us for.

What about you? What future are you leading yourselves towards with the actions you take?


EDIT: The mods don't like that we've criticized the content that normally hits /r/all. They've removed any replies to post that they don't like. There was some very polite discussion about how some of the empty platitudes might not actually be all that helpful, and rather than be mature about it, they've decided to censor instead.

One of those removed responses was mine. I'm saving it in the OP for posterity.

I've seen a lot of really powerful quotes hit the front page that made me feel like crap because I was battling some bigger demons. To me, just pushing hard felt like covering up the real reasons why I lacked motivation in the first place.

This post is me pinning down the root cause of why I've had trouble in the past, and I'm glad I was finally able to. I didn't want to lie to myself any longer.

I understand now why this sub has 11 million subscribers, but around only 500-700 people who actively browse the sub at any one time. There is no constructive discussion, and there is no healthy community — only karma farming and circlejerking. I'm sorry if this comes off as petty, but it really bothers me that healthy, polite discussion was censored.

Here is a link to the ceddit version of this post, which shows content that has been censored by moderators.

Here is a screenshot of the removed comments.

Please moderate responsibly.

submitted by /u/throw—-way comments


Get AutoBlogged