Take the Next Step

Take the next step

We can dream anything, absolutely anything; spaceships, perfect romance, wealth without end, fancy cars, whatever we want. There’s no end to what we can imagine. It’s truly amazing.

Unfortunately, when we begin to work towards making our dreams come true, we collide with the extraordinary and often immovable resistance of reality. The physical world, after all, is not nearly as accommodating as our imagination.

How to Earn a Darn Good Living as a Writer…

I’m reminded of the common saying, “A long row to hoe.”

Not far from where I live, in the heart of South Carolina, there are cotton fields that go on for miles. When I was a kid, farmers and their help would be in the fields day after day manually thinning the cotton and chopping the weeds. It was brutal labor that often went on from sunrise to sunset during the hottest days of summer.

Every day those men got out of bed, went to the field and did what they had to do to make a crop…even when they could not see the end of the row…even when the heat and mosquitoes would have killed lesser men. It’s what they did. It’s who they were.

For me, this defines perseverance. Some might call it pigheaded perseverance.

I think most dreams, at the least the big ones, can be like a long row to hoe. Success takes time, maybe ages, maybe a lifetime.

And, here’s the thing, the process never unfolds the way we imagine. When we go after an objective whether it’s writing a book or building an online business, you can bet there will be setbacks, unforeseen struggles and maybe even betrayal by the people we trusted most.

Still, we have to find a way to keep going…

Recently, I read Mastery, a book by George Leonard. Mr. Leonard was a student of Aikido, a martial art that takes a lifetime to master. He knew a thing or two about perseverance. George Leonard wrote that people who master anything have grown accustomed living on the plateau.

You see, when we strive toward an objective we might make progress for a time, but eventually we’ll meet with resistance. It might seem like we’ve stalled.

A long row to hoeMaybe the problems are too big, the questions unanswerable, the path too difficult or frustrating. We might throw our back into our work and still not make progress…for years and years. This is the plateau George Leonard wrote about.

Those who master their dreams are the ones who find a way to keep working when there’s no visible improvement or result. They take the next step and, eventually, there’s a change, some success. Then, there’s a setback and they settle again on the plateau, but this time they’re operating a little higher than before and they take the next step.

The process repeats. There’s a long stretch with little or no improvement and then a slight success and they’re back on the plateau again, hoeing the long row, but a little more advanced than before. Then finally, after ages, they have another success. And the cycle continues with long stretches of backbreaking labor followed by brief success, over and over again.

Eventually, they win, they finish the job and enjoy the fruits of their labor. That’s the easy part. Anyone can do that. The real accomplishment is slogging across the plateau with no end in sight.

When we chose to follow a dream, we chose to live on the plateau, to hoe the long row and keep at it. Regardless of the heat and mosquitoes, setbacks, frustrations, fears and betrayals…take the next step. Celebrate every success, no matter how small, and take the next step.

How to Earn a Darn Good Living as a Writer…




  1. Florence Ki says:

    Meditate and give yourself a break sounds good to me. Yes, we must try to focus on whatever we do. Procrastination is a no no to me. Everything must come to a decision fast so that moving forward is possible. Thank you very much for sharing such valuable information. I will definitely come back for more.

    • Hi Florence!

      Thanks for stopping by. Sometimes our thoughts drive us crazy and the relaxed focus of meditation helps us to work with a clear mind. I appreciate your comment.

      All the best…


  2. Hello Gary. Great article and well written and yes it sounds just like every way to success is ‘a long row to hoe’ but we only ever hear about the ‘fruits from the labor’ and think ah ha yes, sounds so easy just follow the steps.

    However sometimes we get distracted by promises of short cuts that are just scams that smash our enthusiasm to continue and stay the course. Leaving a trail of destruction in many people’s hopes and dreams

    But as you say to be successful it’s really can be lonely work and sometimes you don’t see the end of the row so it’s a struggle to continue onward.

    Fortunately the community at Wealthy Affiliate make the journey a little less arduous and offers encouragement along the way. Making creating a successful business online more bearable and the fruits of success that much sweeter. 🙂

    • Hi Peter!

      Always good to hear from you. Thanks for stopping by.

      You are so right. It’s easy to get distracted. There’s so much noise and clutter on the internet, and always another shiny object to capture our attention.

      I think it’s important for each person who wishes to make money online to commit to building a business based on value and integrity. And at the same time, commit to ignoring the so-called opportunities. At some point, we must chose to be either an “opportunity seeker” or a determined entrepreneur.

      An opportunity seeker will forever chase after the next faster, easier, richer shiny object. It’s an impulse akin to a gambling addiction.

      On the other hand, a determined entrepreneur understands the importance of patiently building an online business founded on the same principles of any successful enterprise, such as integrity, value, reputation and relationships.

      Yes, Wealthy Affiliate is a true blessing. When I stumbled onto it, I felt like I had come home.

      Thanks again,


  3. Hey man, this was really nice to read, I enjoyed it. I think the most important thing is to believe in yourself and start working on your dreams without any guarantee for success, just believe and do it. With online business the beauty is that when you create a post or page your work is done. Content will be there as long as you pay for hosting. With that in mind it’s a lot easier to take that steps. Anyway, thanks for sharing this post.
    Cheers and good luck on your journey.

    • Hi Kush!

      I appreciate your insight. It takes courage to go after your dream without any guarantee of success, but that’s exactly what we must do if we are to have any hope for fulfilling our potential.

      All the best…


  4. Dear Gary,

    Great creative Website name. 😀 I love to write and read as well. 🙂 This Blog Post of yours has great insight. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your perspectives on it. 🙂 I have to overcome the biggest obstacle ever lately, procrastination and writer’s block. Is there a way to cure this?

    Thanking you.

    Wishing you all the best with your online success above and beyond the horizon,


    • Hi Angel!

      Thanks for stopping by. I understand about procrastination and so-called writer’s block. Usually, when we think we’re blocked we’re really tired, distracted, or hungry. At least that has been my experience. I find if I just sit down for a specific amount of time, say 30 minutes and commit to thinking of nothing else but my writing project I’ll come up with something.

      You might find something helpful in these two posts:



      Never underestimate the power of a good night’s rest.

      All the best…


  5. Hey Gary,
    I loved reading this piece and kind of needed it to pick me up today.

    I believe that everyone is attracted to success, wish to be successful, maybe want to be successful but what they never see is all the hard work, disappointment and failure and working through the grid despite all of that.

    Consistency is the key when you feel like giving up and this article was a nice reminder. Thank you for the great post.

    • Hi Josh!

      I appreciate your insight and I’m so glad you found my post helpful.

      I once watched a bobcat trying to catch something in the grass. It took him about ten tries before he finally caught it. That was when I realized for every success there are many failures. That’s not a bad thing either. That’s the way we learn.

      Thanks so much for stopping by.

      All the best…


  6. Andre Daniel says:

    Hi Gary. I recently saw an image representation of what success is and what a lot of people think or dream success is. It was basically two arrows, one was pointing steadily upwards and the other was an arrow that was bending and turn and going back on itself. The heading for the one steadily going upwards was something along the lines of “What We Want Success To Be” and the heading for the arrow going everywhere was ” What Success Actually Is”.
    What this small little picture image was telling us is that there are many struggles and set backs when it comes to completing and succeeding in life and business. People will always want the easiest and stress free road to liberation etc, this is natural human nature I think, but the recognition that honing your character for a purpose in both life and business is what makes you successful in life.

    • Hi Andre!

      Thanks so much for your rich contribution. I really like the image you describe. You made me question my own concept of success. Actually, it’s comforting to know that the road to success has many trials and setbacks. I take that as a assurance that I’m right on course.

      I particularly like your mention of “honing your character for a purpose in both life and business.” It reminds me of the scripture “What does it profit a man to gain the world but lose his soul?”

      Thanks again for you wise insight.

      All the best…


  7. Hey Gary,
    Wow this is a very inspirational article, glad I came across it when I need it the most. I love writing and I’m trying to be a good writer too but often time I have this procrastination feeling that I absolutely hate.

    I never procrastinate before but ever since I work from home, its so comfortable that I never realized that I was actually procrastinating already as I sat on the sofa and read my book. Would you happen to have any advice on how do I keep my focus and stop procrastinating?

    • Hi Riaz!

      Thanks for stopping by. You asked a good question.

      Here’s how I deal with procrastination. Honestly, it may not be the best advice, but it works for me.

      Either first thing in the morning, or the night before, I plan my day. I list the tasks I hope to complete for that day. Then, I prioritize the tasks. If I can only get one task done that day, which one will it be? That gets a #1 beside. If I can get two things done, which will be #2, and so on down the list. Usually, I won’t prioritize more than a dozen tasks at a time.

      I have more energy in the morning, so I schedule my article writing or other essential brain-juice consuming tasks for the morning. Later, when my brain is used up, I’ll work on tasks that don’t require as much thought.

      Sometimes, if I’m just not feeling it, I’ll drink coffee to get my butt in gear and then focus on just one task. If I find myself avoiding work or procrastinating, I’ll give myself one task to do. Once that is complete, I’ll move on to another.

      Sometimes procrastination is really my mind forcing me to think through a task before I begin, or it’s because I don’t know where to begin. When this happens, I’ll jot down on a notepad the steps I’ll need to follow to complete the task.

      Or, I’ll ask myself why I’m procrastinating. Sometimes, I’ll get an answer and it’s usually because I need more information. In that case, I’ll do some research or ask someone who knows.

      I hope this helps.

      All the best…


  8. I like the saying that goes anyone who mastered anything has became accustomed to living on the plateau. This is definitely true and people who have accomplished goals understand the journey. And I see myself becoming more patient everytime I accomplish a new long term goal. Because I expect it now. I become more accustomed everytime I’m pursuing a new goal. And knowing that this is the part of the journey and that I will accomplish it as long as I keep on is a big motivator when things become challenging.

    • Hi, Joon!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      It seems each generation is less patient than the one before. In this computer age, we are in the habit of getting what we want almost instantly. It’s addicting.

      Because most everyone else does not realize that good things take time, you and I have a tremendous advantage. Slow and steady wins the race.

      If we keep taking the next step toward our goal, steady and true, we quickly leave our competition behind. And, as you mentioned, we will arrive at our goal and enjoy the pleasure of choosing a new, more ambitious objective.

      All the best,


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