I had knee surgery just about two weeks ago, which is why things have been fairly quiet around here lately. Recovery is going well, if not a little more slowly than I’d like, but it has been without complications and I am looking forward to a new and improved happy knee.
One of the exercises I’m practicing is walking backwards. I do this partly because it helps stretch my muscles around my knee and partly to retrain the leg and knee how to walk normally again after being immobile for a few days. It’s amazing how quickly you can lose the muscle control to do simple things like walk properly or even lift your leg if you aren’t constantly doing it. So, I walk backwards through the house. It freaks the dogs out a little, but it will help me walk normally more quickly.
Doing things backwards is actually a surprisingly useful technique in many instances when we are stuck moving forward. I was thinking about this idea this week as my oldest daughter was working on a rather complicated maze.
The puzzle required her to get from the start to the finish by bouncing around the page under the constraints of several “rules” about how she could move. About halfway through, she got stuck because she faced multiple choices about how to move that led to more options once the initial move was chosen. After several minutes of unsuccessful guessing, my daughter then decided to go backward from the finish and see how far she could get moving in that direction. Less than two minutes later, she worked her way back to the point where she had been stuck moving forward and completed the puzzle.
So where else is this helpful? The fastest way to reach a goal is to have absolutely clarity about what it is you are trying to achieve and then move forward step by step. Writing out all of the steps is extremely useful- whether it’s in a notebook, on an Excel spread sheet or a series of sticky notes lining your bedroom wall. List as many of them as you can from start to finish. Go as far as you can until you are stumped as to what the next step might be. That’s the time to start working backwards. List your goal. Then list the step right before it. Then the one right before it, and so on and so on. Don’t worry if the two ends don’t meet, just go as far as you can in each direction. Sooner or later you’ll see another step, backwards or forwards and eventually all the steps will connect and you will have the clearest and fastest path to your goal.
Gives new meaning to the phrase “two steps forward, one step back,” don’t you think?