It is said that, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."  This is attributed to Lao-Tzu, a brilliant Chinese philosopher who wrote a lot about the Tao.  More correctly, the proper translation from Chinese is "The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one's feet."

I love both of these statements.  At first glance, they might seem to have almost identical meanings.  They are thought to be interchangeable but in fact, each is quite different from the other.

Let's take a look at the less-well-known but correct translation first.  "The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one's feet."  This is such a beautiful statement.  It's filled with optimism and hope.  It's about looking at where you are, right here, right now, accepting what is, accepting where you're standing now, and not looking behind you, leaving the past where it belongs.

It's about seeing what needs to change in yourself or your life.  It's about preparing for forward movement, for growth.  It's brilliant.  It's exciting.  It's empowering.  It's filled with anticipation.

It leads straight to the more widely known version:  "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."  This is also very beautiful.  It teaches patience, determination and perseverance in the face of a goal that seems so far away.  It teaches gentleness in the art of change.  You don't have to do it all at once.

It offers hope and encouragement to anyone who is on a difficult path, especially when there is the temptation to give up, or not even start in the first place.

Being aware of what's beneath your feet, and what's at that thousand-mile point will help you to decide where to place your foot with that first step, and all the others that follow.  That first step begins taking you away from where you are now, from what lies beneath your feet.

And if you just keep lifting your foot and putting it down, one foot in front of the other, you will continue to move further away from where you are now, and with each step, a little closer to where you want to be.

Do not fear putting your foot down in the wrong place.  This happens sometimes when you look down at your feet, rather than ahead at your destination but you can correct the problem.  Keep focused on the destination; your feet will follow your eyes.

First:  take a good look at what lies beneath your feet.  Where are you now?  What do you need to accept about your situation?  What is your current reality?  What do you want to change about it?

Second:  It begins with that first step.  Once you know your destination and you have a clear vision of it in your mind, lift a foot and set it down again.  Keep putting one foot in front of the other and in time, you will be where you want to be.