The marketing strategy for Tootsie Pops, “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?”, reminded me of a truth as it relates to our physical and spiritual lives. We have already established that life is a journey. A succession of smaller steps leading to a destination. But to maintain direction, it is essential that we have milestones. Markers to show the progress that we are making. Especially when the destination is very far away. A couple of months ago I was hiking with the family in the sand dunes of coastal Oregon. We parked at the trailhead and began the journey along a well-marked path. But it wasn’t long before the trail opened up to a sea of sand as far as I could see. I stood for a moment, surveying the landscape wondering which way the trail went. The constant wind had blown away all traces of footprints that would have marked the path. Having a general idea of which direction to go, I climbed the first dune to the top and examined the surroundings. Off in the distance, breaking up the smooth, blonde landscape was the dark, sharp image of a wooden pole stuck in the sand with a blue stripe at the top. This was our only marker to show us the trail. So down the dune we headed towards the pole. Once we reached it, we again made our survey and were able to spot the next pole in the distance. It was in this pole-to-pole fashion that we were able to reach our final destination, a beautiful, secluded beach. Without these markers , we would have been walking blind, never quite sure if we were heading in the right direction or if we were making progress towards our destination.
In order to reach a goal in your journey towards optimal physical and spiritual health, it is essential to have these markers. Smaller, more achievable goals that when combined together, lead the way to your destination. Instead of looking at the 30 pounds that you need to lose, break it into more manageable 5-pound segments. If you are wanting to read the Bible cover-to-cover for the first time, set a goal of 1 book a month or one chapter a day. If you are starting from a position of not exercising at all, then instead of focusing on a weight loss goal it might be beneficial to just set a goal of exercising once, twice or three times a week for the first 2 weeks. Achieve that goal first before moving on to the more difficult ones. Same with the Bible goal. Start with committing to read the Bible 3 times a week, two times a week, or even one time a week. Then, reward yourself when you reach a goal. It is an accomplishment! When you stand on top of the dunes and see the ocean way off in the distance, it is sometimes easy to get discouraged because it looks so far away and you can see the many dunes that need to be climbed before you get to the end. However, if you can set your sights on the one marker in front of you, once you reach it you will realize that the next marker doesn’t look that far away, and you will find the strength to make it to that next marker. Like the Tootsie Pop, no one knows how many licks it will take. Just take it one lick at a time.