Getting from point A to point B

I used to be obsessed with this question: how did you get from point A to point B?

Where point A is knowing you want a thing, and point B is having achieved a life immersed in it.

Aspiring writer to publishing author.
Would-be inventor to patent, production, and profit.
Cooking enthusiast to professional chef.

I used to read a lot of interviews and profiles of the writers and artists I admired. And the thing that frustrated me, back when I identified strongly as an aspiring writer, was how rare it was for these profiles to delve into this in-between time: the long slog through uncertainty before there is much outside validation of your effort.

How do you do it? How do you keep working toward something so uncertain? But also, the nitty-gritty down and dirty, how did you pay the bills? What did you do about child care? How did you find a supportive community? Where and when did you do your work? (Coffee shops? Late at night? While the baby was napping?)

What are all the things that happened, big and small, concrete and emotional, that helped you along the way to not give up?

For a while (this is about 6 years ago) I thought about starting a blog about this. I’d call it A to B. I’d interview people who were at something that seemed to me like a B-ish place in their career about what their point A had been, and all that had come in between.

It was a good idea, but the blog never happened. I had a baby instead.

(Some of my favorite podcasts, I just realized, are good at asking people about these A to B years. J. Brown often starts way back at point A with his interviews. He’ll ask now world-famous teachers about the first time they ever practiced yoga, and spend 45 minutes chatting about the whole journey along the way. I love hearing these stories. Any life is filled with so much serendipity, synchronicity, and struggle, and we make meaning from it often only in retrospect.)

These days, I don’t obsess about point B so much, mostly because I feel like measurable external achievements always seem to mean less by the time they’re achieved than the journey you took to reach them.

By the time I taught a yoga class, I’d become a person ready to teach a yoga class.

If I someday publish a book, I’ll have become a person ready to publish a book.

The magic is in the doing, not the collecting of achievements like trinkets.

But I’m still obsessed with process, and with building the logistical systems and creative supports that get us from A-ish places to B-ish ones in our own lives.

And I realized that the other day, in a moment of clarity (maybe?), I had laid this out. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Sarah’s 6-step template to get from Point A to Point B:

  1. See point A. Really see it. Test its component parts. Figure out where you are. Admit that it’s complicated.
  2. Acknowledge that B is too far away to understand fully from here. Ask people who’ve been to a B-ish place for help and advice. Find teachers.
  3. Do a small thing consistently (if possible, daily) that feels like a step in a B-ish direction.
  4. Accept that B will not look like you thought. The way a distant velvet mountain, when you arrive, just looks like rough ground, scrubby foliage, sky.
  5. Keep looking around at where you are. Call it A-and-1/2 now.
    • what have you learned?
    • what do you need to change or let go of?
    • where will you grow?
  6. Realize that it was always about the journey, anyway. And that the components you need to enjoy the journey are:
    • curiosity
    • kindness
    • radical acceptance
    • courage
    • hunger to make change
    • & community

Is one of those steps untrue? Did I leave something out? I haven’t fully tested this model yet, but it could become an exercise for any B-ish place you’re trying to move towards.

I’m curious. Pick a goal, big or small, and write down: 

  • Your point A. (Where you are now in relation to that goal.)
  • Your point B. (What would define arriving or shifting to a new status in relation to that goal.)
  • Your answers or feedback to each of those six steps.

Where are you on the path?

Does a next step reveal itself?