I had an early-early flight, so I booked a hotel near the airport and took the train out the night before. Problem was, I’m so used to going to the airport that I forgot to get off at the hotel stop and instead rode all the way to PDX.
Then I stepped off the train and thought: Whoops. Wrong stop.
It wasn’t a big mistake—I had only gone about fifteen minutes out of my way. But when I got back on the train to return, I realized I had a choice: take a stop that was further away from my hotel, and walk the half-mile in the cold, or wait on the train an extra ten minutes for the more logical stop.
It was a no-brainer: I took the first stop and walked. Reaching the hotel, I was frozen solid, but victorious.
I made this choice and felt victorious (though frozen) because of a lesson I’ve learned: always keep moving. When given a choice between forward motion and remaining in the same place—choose forward motion.
This protocol serves well in both travel and life. When traveling, I hate backtracking. I happily ride in African bush taxis for six hours at a time—but only going one direction. If I have to turn around and go back the other way, I brace myself for an attitude correction. This is probably why I like Round-the-World trips—once I leave home, the only way to get back is to keep moving in the same direction.
In life, moving forward is not always the best choice, but that’s not the point. The point is we don’t always have complete information about the choices available to us. (If we did, there would be little indecision.) Because we don’t have all the information, we need to make the best possible decision, and I think moving forward improves the odds.
Oh, and if forward motion fails you sometimes? That’s OK—just find a different way forward, and don’t make the same mistake. Keep a list of everything you want to do, and work on it every day. MOVE FORWARD.
As Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” You might miss some shots when choosing forward motion over waiting it out. But if you don’t take action, you’ll never know.
When in doubt … choose forward motion.
Our own free will is responsible for both our liberty and self-incarceration. We choose to be free and to risk a little, or we choose to enslave ourselves with the illusion of safety. A mentor of mine, Scott Sonnon, said the other day, “Change happens not by chance, but by choice… Unlike any other beautiful creature in the universe, we have been given the choice by gross reflex, by habitual reaction, or by deliberate response.” Taking deliberate, forward action always wins in my book.
Great advice, don’t think too much about it the answer will come as you choose forward motion.
Ask yourself what is the worst that could happen?
When in doubt: C4 🙂
You express my lifelong philosophy, but reading it anew keeps me moving forward, also! Thanks for the post, as always.
Chris, I lived in Portland for a while. Miss the city like crazy (including the airport). Say hello to Powell’s Books for me if you get the chance.
I’ve always thought that traveling serves as some powerful metaphors for many things. Airports, too. In fact, I think airports tell us a story of thousands of people all gathered in one place who are in forward motion to somewhere else. Every one of them has a story. Every one a destination.
Good material, bro.
Huh. I used to do this when i lived in New York all the time. Rather than wait for trains I just keep moving, keep walking. I discovered the city this way. I fell in love with the city this way. I don’t think i ever extrapolated this to life though. Thanks.
I just came home from a three hour walk and read the article about moving forward!!! I love it and that is what I will do or have been doing I should say as from the beginning of the new year. I hope to continue. You inspired me even more. If you are in Athens Greece let me know. Helen.
I agree, but can’t help but wondering is all forward motion equal? Couldn’t the ten minute train ride (which was still forward toward one goal: sleep) been used to achieve a second goal like personal growth (reading) or communicating? I mean, you did multitask the two goals of sleep and death nicely though 🙂 Popsicle Chris will do little for your reader’s addiction in the future. We’d miss you. That’s my soapbox, I’m sticking to it
I couldn’t agree more. I get frustrated a lot with setting up my business and want to quit and go back to the “easy” life. I know that in my mind that is not what I want to do.
So when ever I get frustrated…I strap on the boots and push forward, even if there is a wall in the way.
That’s a great analogy Chris and the philosophy is one I believe in too. Thanks!
Great insight here, Chris. I feel the same way about forward motion in general, although I don’t apply it to world-travel. And in a far less serious light, there are times when my friends and I end up stuck without a cab in the early morning hours after last call in Boston. I often opt to hoof it home about 1.5 miles, hoping to hail a cab along the way, than to stand in one place. I never really asked why, but it always felt better to keep forward motion going!
Thanks for this, I’m having a surgery next week and I’m stugggling dealing with the rehab issues, but I need to move forward to get on with my life. So your words were a blessing to me!
Great advice, Chris. And I like how you connected it to your travels.
Wait, …even when backtracking, aren’t you still going forward to your next destination?
Personally, I also would have taken the brief, brisk walk. Not because it’s an earlier stop, but because it offers a little ‘chill-out’ time before bed. (pun intended)
Great quote from Wayne Gretsky. That’s going into the memory vault.
Excellent advice Chris. I’ve been listening to some of Wayne Dyer’s materials lately, and one of the things he says over and over is that ‘flowing water can’t decay.’ It’s a good reminder that if we keep things moving in our lives, we won’t decay. Movement keeps us alive. Thanks for the reminder.
You got great timing with your Gretzky quote…here in Canada we are stinging badly from last night’s loss against the Russians. We lost 100%, especially because the Russians’ 3 goals they DID make in the third period.
I’ve always felt the same – going backwards, either physically or with regards to where you’re at in your life, puts me in a sour mood. I don’t mind sitting still. Sitting still can be good for the soul. But going in reverse and losing ground is a sign that I’ve made an incorrect choice and need to make a course correction.
BTW – I’d love to hear more about the African bush taxis. Sounds like an awesome (if bone jarring) adventure! Looking forward to seeing you at the book signing in Montreal, Chris!
I love this idea. I recently read the book Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert, and he supports the same idea. He says oftentimes we choose inaction over action, while it has been proven through various studies, etc. that actually taking an action is what makes us happiest in the long run. Always a good thought to remember!
Like it! That’s what I call ‘forward thinking’. I recall occasions when, faced with an immediate Go or No-Go choice and not having a great deal of time to evaluate the options, I will decide to Lean Forward and just choose the affirmative response: Sure, let’s do it! Invariably it is the right call.
You might call it calculated impulsiveness, where you do a really fast risk-to-reward assessment, and then commit. I might feel some brief twinge of remorse for being hasty and not overly cautious, but that is soon replaced with the more expansive experience of adventure and opportunity. You can feel the blocked energy releasing!
For a good exploration of the positive/forward motion principle, check out that funny 2008 Jim Carrey movie, Yes Man!
I will use that comment in my almost resignation letter at the agency I am leaving. One of those stories, best person for the job gets screwed, cause manangement has favourites. So instead, of sitting still, and actually going backwards, I wrote, “I choose to move forward”. Your little words could not have shown up at a better time, just as I was finishing my evaluation. I know I did a fantastic job, and I graded myself accordingly, You have to love yourself, ’cause Lord knows, everyone else is just saving their ass.
I agree with the forward motion idea, but sometimes it’s really difficult to perceive you are moving forwards.
I’m in the final year of an acupuncture degree (exams in May) and it’s soooo hard to stay motivated on doing stuff that seems academic for its own sake rather than making me a functioning acupuncturist !
I have to content myself with working on what feels irrelevant in order to keep moving forwards to graduate and become the acupuncturist I want to be.
I can’t wait to finally graduate after 3 years and be able to work on MY goals to move me in a direction that *I* want to take. Right now I have to spend ALL my time on the irrelevant stuff and it saps my inner strength… right to the core ! So much so that I’m distracting myself by replying to your blog 😉
Chris — I share your desire to keep moving. This reminds me of the decision UPS made a few years ago to essentially have their trucks stop making left turns.
UPS Makes the Right Turn – http://www.e-myth.com/cs/user/print/post/ups-makes-the-right-turn
“In 2004, after evaluating their CO2 emissions, UPS announced that its drivers would avoid making left turns. They calculated that the amount of time spent idling waiting to make a left turn would save millions of dollars in fuel costs every year. For example, in 2006 UPS trucks drove 2.5 billion miles, and with their unique package flow technology combined with their right-turn routes, they estimate saving 28,541,472 million miles, and three million gallons of fuel. Talk about improving the bottom line!”
Sometimes a simply decision like you’ve described can transform our thinking and our success.
I’m gonna keep moving today and all year – thanks!
Great advice and exactly what I needed this morning. Talk about serendipity. And I’d love to sit here and elaborate, but I have to keep moving. Onward! And thanks.
Here’s a great quote I found on one of the blogs, (it might have been yours’)
“Run with what you have
Fix it as you go.”
As you point out, there are often things you don’t know about a situation, but you’ll make a whole lot more progress if you just keep going with what you have, then if you wait until you know everything.
Chris, I love this one. I picked up a quote from the movie Meet the Robinsons that sums this article up. It is from Walt Disney. “Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving FORWARD, opening up new doors and doing new things… And curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” Keep Moving Forward!!
Great post! Really hit home for me. (Saved it to my Evernote “Lifehack” folder.) Something I need to do more of. Thanks Chris!
I totally get this. It’s why I prefer to walk (or occasionally bike) rather than drive places, even if it takes a bit longer. How many of us have had the experience of being in traffic while an urban cyclist whisks past us again and again at each red light? We’re both moving at the same average rate, but the cyclist is getting the exercise. Same with walking vs. waiting for the Metro (DC subway) – often I can’t stand the feeling of “cooling my heels”, just standing idly around. I want to MOVE, baby!
Overall agree. Tried forward motion last night as a fine art photographer who normally doesn’t draw by attending an art club meeting focused on caricatures. Didn’t have a partner with me to draw, so drew a caricature of the featured artist giving the presentation. While some members called my work clever and seemed to enjoy it, the subject of my drawing was not feeling so rosy about my portrayal of him. I aimed neither for flattery nor for unflattery but merely for truth … maybe somewhere in my scratchy scrawly sketch I accomplished that. Methinks I best stick to photography though! Forward motion can lead to clarity as to one’s path through trial and error.
That said, as a photographer, sometimes I do backtrack, and that intentionally. Why? To get a fresh angle on scenery I’ve just passed by looking forward at it from an opposite perspective. You can’t go down the same road twice, believe me, I’ve tried. Light changes moment by moment.
Great post, thanks!
I work at an employment centre on a small island where so many people (including me) need to move forward and seem a little stuck. Even reading “move forward” feels right.Thnx.
Interesting post, Chris. A couple of thoughts …
Regarding forward movement: In karate they teach you to always be moving forward. It doesn’t matter if it’s a millimeter at a time, the simple act of moving forward keeps your mind focused forward. If you are move backward, even if it’s just a little bit, then your mind is focuses on whats behind you (your past). There is power in forward movement.
Regarding backtracking: If I am departing from Portland en route to LA, and suddenly find I’m in Tijuana Mexico, do I keep going? Do I say, “oh well, I’ve come this far, I might as well keep going?” NO. When you discover you’ve missed your destination, you admit it, you course correct, turn around, and backtrack. Backtracking is still forward movement.
Emerson said, “Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”.
Moving forward is good advice … so long as you’re heading in the right direction.
– The Contrarian
Reminds me of an “aha” moment I had over 30 years ago. Out of the blue, this truth hit home: “You haven’t made many mistakes, but you’ve missed a lot of opportunities.” Thanks for the encouragement to make a decision and keep moving forward.
Nice post. I have found time and again that when you move forward even when you don’t know what is ahead most often the way that you want and need to go will open up for you, usually only after you get that forward motion going.
When we undertake to start moving forward towards a goal in our thoughts as well as actions I have also seen the things I need and desire come to me in very unexpected and yet fortuitous ways!
Great advice! Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Nobody is ever going to know everything (except maybe me) so I agree, pushing through and taking one step at a time, always forward, is key!
Hi Chris, this is a great post to start the year with – thank you!
I’ve been going through some “stuff” in my had, doubting myself a bit (was I right to start my own business, being one of the doubts!) – but reading your posts, and so many affirming comments, has lightened things for me – it’s a new year, I’m great at what I do – and I just have to tell more people that 🙂
Thanks for your practical thoughts & advice – always enjoyed!
Take care, Happy 2011!
From the martial arts, the other side of the Wayne Gretsky quote. You win 100% of the fights you don’t get into. A greater lesson there? I don’t know, just passing it on.
I love the simplicity of this message, Chris. Forward Motion is an empowering habit to take on. When we are continually seeking to express the highest version of ourselves it is the small, daily thoughts and decisions that lead to profound growth and progress.
Oh so very true.
I’ve been known to go a little out of my way when out running errands so I didn’t have to travel back over the same ground. I try to do the same thing in my personal and professional life, too.
Sometimes, though, there are such obstacles that it feels like forward motion comes to a complete stop. I’ve found that the trick then is to look for the lateral movement that will get you around it… and then face in that direction. Presto! Forward movement restored.
Yeah, extra steps creep in every now and then. May as well just roll with ’em.
“It was a no-brainer: I took the first stop and walked. Reaching the hotel, I was frozen solid, but victorious.”
I totally agree – that’s part of the reason why I bike to work these days. You really do feel victorious after biking for 30-40 min at 30*F
Serves you well in life and in business, Chris. It’s against my nature to sit still. Some people have a problem with it.
Chris, great advice–most of the time. It’s a good general rule of thumb to keep in mind, because it’ll get you mentally unstuck (and help keep you that way) when your tendency might be to freeze up or spin your wheels or cover old ground again and again.
But what if you’re moving forward and you come to the edge of a cliff? Assuming there’s no safe way down, I’m pretty sure I’d take that as an opportunity to course-correct. 😉
And you could argue (as some people above have) that if you turn around, backward becomes the new forward.
Still, I get your point. And it’s true that any new direction can be a redefinition of “forward.”
Not sure if I would have walked or waited for the next train, though.
I like it! I often chose to walk instead of taking the subway, because sometimes waiting for the subway seems counter-intuitive. Though that might be my Type A “gotta keep going” personality kicking in. 😉
Love the forward motion and how it can help build momentum, even in other aspects of life and business.
“Keep a list of everything you want to do, and work on it every day. MOVE FORWARD.”
I started a blog during the end of the last year with the hopes of making myself accountable for the things I set out to accomplish. I figured if I wrote a blog, and had others reading it, it would keep me moving forward. I didn’t want to run the risk of looking like a jack a$$. Yet, here I am 6 days into the New Year and after reading over the blog (that I stopped writing somewhere in November) I realize that I’ve let the ball drop on a LOT of things.
Thanks for reminding me that moving forward is the only way to live! And I might even take up that blog again – for real this time!
Wow, this is a battle at home sometimes. I don’t like to “sit”, but my wife does.
For the sake of relationship, I have to force myself to join her. Makes ‘vacations’ hard sometimes, as we have very different ideas of what makes a good vacation.
Forget restless leg syndrome, I have restless body syndrome! 🙂
I live five hours from JFK so, when there is a flight delay longer than that (or the threat of an overnight stay), I hop in the car.
Forward motion is a great practice and an even better philosophy.
I guess we are all going forward in the big picture. We only pass through once:
I expect to pass through this world but once:
Any good thing therefore that I can do or any kindness
that I can show to any fellow-creature let me do it now.
Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.
Awesome post! Bruce Lee had a similar motto, “Walk On.” He kept that on a plaque on his desk. Great reminder of what to do when you can’t think of what to do.
Brilliant, Chris…though discerning “forward” can be a bit tricky at times, I’ve found. 🙂
As I’m learning from other realms, “go with the flow. Stop trying so hard to fight the uphill battle.”
Hope the Canadians are treating you well…they’ve always been kind to me.
Great post as always, and we hope you never grow bored with this journey you’re on and tire of hearing that from those of us whose lives you’ve impacted. We, too choose forward motion even when it has taken us down unusual and occasionally risky paths. The harder choice about forward motion has come when it feels like we’re moving about as fast as molasses in January. Still we choose a slower move ahead then a redundant lateral move. Mahalo for the continued motivation!
Matt, I really liked that passage you shared from John O’London. I’m moving forward at what feels like lightening speed trying to organize a local benefit production of V-Day San Clemente 2011: “The Vagina Monologues.” I want this to raise funds and awareness that violence against women and children is still very real and cannot be ignored.
If I were in an area affected by disaster or war, I would feel hope if I knew there were people on the other side of the world or country doing what they could to help me.
Great analogy, Chris! If I’m driving towards something, I’m fine, but if I find myself backtracking and going in circles, I start getting anxious and crabby. It amazes me how many people today are willing to sit in the same spot in life and not go anywhere. Have an idea about what direction you want to face, and then just push yourself forward. I find that, once you get going, you should have enough momentum to keep going in whatever direction you are trying to go. You can always find your way as you go along.
I used to live in Brooklyn, NY and had a long practice of taking whatever train came along, as long as it was going in my direction… although there were times when it paid to go another. This practice was especially useful on local and express trains on the same track. When I would tell people about moving forward, they would get this deer in the headlights look…some even said why would you do that… I would just shrug my shoulders and say something like Gretsky said. THANKS for the reminder.
Not being a great fan of walking in freezing weather, I would have waited ten minutes for the next train. I always carry a book for such occasions.
Some times a pause to think is better than moving forward for the sake of moving forward.
This is exactly the way I think. I can’t count the number of times I decided to just walk instead of waiting for the bus to come. It ended up that sometime I just walk all the way to my destination and sometime it takes longer but at least, I’m moving and I enjoy walking. I don’t like waiting and standing stand when I know I could be moving forward.
Great thoughts Chris!
This goes along nicely with a theme I’ve been thinking about lately which is action. Action always wins. The person who’s taking action, or moving forward, is always going to come out on top.
In fact, it seems the people who really make things happen are the ones who don’t seem to stop moving! Maybe it’s due to the fact that it’s easier just to stay moving than to stop and have to restart all over again.
Forward motion always wins for me. Perhaps this is why I hate being asked when will I go back to my home country. The BACK word scares me. I can’t see myself going back if it means going backwards. I have far too many countries on my list of places to live in. Onwards and upwards!
It really is the only way we can keep moving FORWARD. For so long we’ve been taught to wait, or hope tomorrow something is going to happen that will change your life or make you RICH, unfortunately none of those things happen,
Well. they do, if you take Action! If you start doing the (actions) necessary to get where or what you want.
Another great reason to keep moving and taking action is that it helps to fight your fears and learn that sometimes what we fear is not that much BIG a deal, I say this from experience. By doing things that scare you, teaches you that is wasn’t that bad after all.
keep moving, keep failing, and do it quick before you get to old. Don’t want to get to where you start saying “son I wish I would’ve” just start doing it now, so you can say “I did it all, and I don’t regret it”
Love your post. I always have believed in staying in motion and it usually works out for me. But on the other hand when really not sure what to do my motto is “sit down and have a beer”. Your quote from Wayne Gretsky is one of my all time favorites and SOOOO true.
Simple, true and powerful message indeed.
Moving forward is always progress – even when the destination is unintended.
As Winston Churchill once said “when moving through hell, keep going”
bLAZE yOUR tRAIL
Very true! At times like this I imagine a Nike swish and say, “Just do it.”
This is one of the best posts that I’ve read in a long time Chris.
Forward motion delivers so much reward, especially, when it’s done to fulfill your life’s purpose. And if your life’s purpose is providing value to the world, that’s an added bonus.
Forward motion… doing something that truly matters.
This is fairly off-topic, but the last time I was at the grocery store I saw “Gretzky’s Green Tea”. Tagline: One Great Tea. Now I can’t think of him without laughing. Although, still, he took the shot, and fought against conforming to expectations, so you have to give him that.
This, once and for all and at long last, explains why I am depressed coming home from any vacation anywhere….the “return” trip, coming back, tracing back the route we took, somehow does not feel great even though I am homesick and ready to be home….I just have to opt in for those round the world trips next. We did a mini-one last year and it was phenomenal. Chris, you are brilliant!
A similar concept came up for me at the beginning of the year – if in doubt, say yes. Lean into yes… try more things, make more mistakes, be willing to open to learning & discovering more answers. You can always change your mind after you’ve given it a try.
Thanks for the reminder to keep moving forward Chris.
Forward motion…. funny that your mail came on a day where I was on my 3rd leg of a trip back from Germany. My last flight to return home was ORD to MIA. I arrived early at the airport and uncharacteristically asked if I could switch to the earlier flight. Always forward motion. I like it, I adopt it.
This is awesome, and advice I need right now…I’m at that place where I did the legwork to (hopefully) bring my dreams/goals into actual action, but have to now wait to see if it bears the fruit I hope it will…the temptation is there to just sit back and wait another couple of months to see what happens, but I can’t do that–I still need to keep moving, keep going forward. (And even in the last week or so, there’s been good stuff coming up, job opportunities, a book offer, stuff that may not specifically address those seed-planted goals, but on the other hand, who knows?)
Thanks for the words!
I agree with Wyman. Moving forward for the sake of moving forward can be an avoidance strategy, and pausing for thought or reflection can be beneficial. The social work field has an expression for situations where this is the case: Don’t just do something, sit there!
It’s far better to move forward, collect information on the spot and adjust your way to your destination than to hesitating over what’s the next step you should make.
In real world, there is no situation with holistic information, we can only trust our experience, judgment and feedback along the way.
It was amazing to read this article after my latest adventure a week ago.
I had a flight with a stop in Istanbul. It was scheduled for a couple of hours, but two days before flight the first flight was changed and I had 9 hours between flights. I said: “Wow! I can visit the city!” And spent a great day in Istanbul just by pure chance! My lesson: never listen to people suggesting to sit and wait (this was an advise from the guy in the tourist information desk: “It will take almost an hour to go to the city…”)
Chris, thank you for sharing your ideas and your thoughts.
Good luck on your way and best wishes for the new year!
Ah, the inevitable push and pull in every direction but the one that matters most.
Perhaps if we spent less time focused on “plan” and “react” and more on “do” and “action,” forward would be the only logical option.
Thanks as always Chris.
I always save your posts to read “later.” Today, I’m glad I did this. This was exactly the message I needed today. It’s especially interesting to note that I read it today, 2/2, which is a Holiday for me–at Holiday during which I’m planning on working toward just that: Moving Forward.
Several years ago. I chose not to move forward out of fear. I’m paying for that now by being stuck in a really, really crappy day job. I’m working to change it, but it’s a huge challenge, because this job is one of those “no forward movement”, “career ruiner” type jobs.
Thank you for this post. I know I am moving in the right direction now. I just need to learn patience!
I am new to your site, but I love this post. It is so true for so many things. You may be familiar with Harry Beckwith on selling the invisible. If I remember it correctly, his quote:
“Do something. Do ANYTHING, but do SOMETHING.”
I see this for travel, but in my life, it really applies to entrepreneruship and small business. Thanks for reminding us again.
thiet ke tieu canh ho ca koi
I was curious if you ever thought of changing the layout of your site?
Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people
could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having
1 or two images. Maybe you could space it out better?
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