How Do You Move Forward With Your Life?

We spend our lives stuck in a single frame.

You may not remember the old movie projectors, the ones that ran a strip of film in front of a bright light to project the moving image onto the screen. The little ones I watched in grade school in the 80s (that were twenty or so years old when I experienced them) didn’t get hot enough to damage the film if it got stuck, but the big ones used in movie theaters would; the light required to project the movie sixty or seventy feet from the back of the theater to the front was so intense, and the bulb generated so much heat, that it would melt the film if it stopped moving for too long.

That’s what happens to us when we get stuck in a frame. We melt before the blinding heat of our dreams.

So how do we advance the film? How do we move forward with our lives, bridge the gap between the life we have and the life we want?

We do it just like an old movie projector: one frame at a time.

Having the life you want is less about getting the things you want, and more about becoming the person you want to be. You become that person by starting where you are and moving forward.

You have to start where you are. You have nowhere else to start. Let go of your bitterness and your guilt, forgive who you have to, and start forward. They say the best time to plant a tree is thirty years ago–but the second best time is today. So wherever you are, however old or poor or crippled or depressed or disadvantaged, figure out one step you can take toward your dreams.

Then take that step.

Want to be a writer? Write for fifteen minutes after you put your kids to bed. Put your butt in your chair, start a timer, put your fingers on the keys, and don’t stop until the timer goes off. It might be brilliant, and it might suck. But it will exist.

The rules are the same if you want something else. Want to be a photographer? Spend fifteen minutes working on one of your photos. Want to make movies? Spend fifteen minutes planning or scripting or shooting a video. Want to trade stocks? Spend fifteen minutes identifying prospects.

When the timer goes off, you will have created something that didn’t exist fifteen minutes before. And you will be fifteen minutes closer to the person you want to be.

It’s a small step. But it’s a step.

Gone With the Wind, Ben Hur, and Star Wars were all made by advancing one frame at a time. What can you make of your life by doing the same?

You don’t have to change everything at once. But you have to change something.

Otherwise, you’ll spend your life stuck in a frame. And you’ll melt if you stay there too long.

I've been a soldier, a dreamer, a working stiff, a leader. A husband, father, example (good and otherwise), and now a survivor. I write about courage, because courage is what enables us to accomplish the impossible. If you draw breath, I love you. If you love in whatever way seems best to you and want others to love in whatever way seems best to them, I am your ally. If you believe someone is less than you because they do not love the way you do, I oppose you. If you see someone as a threat to be abused or destroyed merely because they do not look like you, or love like you, or worship like you, I am your enemy. I am a joyful and courageous man. And I stand with you who love.