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Battling Crucible Fatigue:

The Power of One Small Step

Warwick Fairfax

November 16, 2020

Life can be exhausting.  Certainly this year, 2020, has been exhausting.  Between COVID-19 and the election in the U.S. and the strain it put on the national dialogue and personal relationships, who can’t wait for 2020 to be over? More generally, you may have been through a professional or personal crisis.  You have been fired or lost your business.  You may have lost a loved one, or someone you love may be battling an illness.  When you feel the bottom of your crucible seems to never end, how do you keep going?  How do you find the strength to keep going when there seems to be no end in sight?

Here’s a seven-step roadmap to help you move past your crucible fatigue:

1. Take One Small Step

With life feeling so overwhelming, what one small step can you take today that is a positive step forward?  No matter how small, think of something that will be beneficial.

2. Don’t Forget Your Vision

As you are taking one small step at a time, don’t forget the vision you are moving toward.  That is key.  Each step must take you one small step toward achieving your goal.  Whether it is professional or personal.  If you have been fired, you might take this as an opportunity to reflect on what direction you want to go in life.  Maybe you want to change careers.  So today you might start journaling about what you want in life and your career.  And don’t forget: Reflection should precede action.  Before you go out seeking a new job, reflect and journal first.  One small step. For a personal challenge, it might be different.  In the case of loss of a loved one, for instance, what can you do today that you would enjoy?  Maybe it is a walk with a friend, reminiscing about the joy you had being with your loved one. Maybe it is doing something you enjoy that is about making you a little bit happy even for a moment.  Yes, there is the grieving process, but think of one thing you can do today that will be positive and helpful to you.

3. Celebrate Each Small Step

As you take a positive step forward, no matter how small celebrate it.  It is a win.  Each step is a win.  Remember one small win at a time adds up to a bigger win.  When you look back and see several days of small wins, it begins to create momentum that can move you past your fatigue.  As you look back at several weeks or several months, you will see how far you have come.  Perhaps you are becoming a different person; you have evolved in a positive way.

4. Learn Through Your Crucible

As you begin to take positive small steps forward and celebrate them, reflect on what you might learn from this crucible time.  If you were fired, perhaps there were reasons.  Perhaps there are some insights you might be able to apply to your next job.  You might have thought you knew all the answers.  You were the expert and so you didn’t need to listen.  How you will you learn from this experience?  What will you do differently next time?  History does tend to repeat itself.  What part of your history do you not want to repeat?  For a personal crucible the learning may be different.  Perhaps you might learn that you are stronger than you thought you were.  Even though the personal loss is devastating, you are more resilient than you knew.  Perhaps it might make you take stock and reflect on what is really important to you in life as you move forward.

5. Cultivate an Attitude of Hope

Even though you are tired and worn out, as you take one small step at a time, try to be hopeful and optimistic.  We are often what we believe.  Think of how tomorrow could be better than today.  Think of the positive steps we can take.  This is not naive hopefulness, but a decision of the will to think positively.  Thinking negatively will only bring you down.  Why go there?

6. Have a Cheerleading Squad

It might feel a bit hokey to have friends who are cheering you on saying, “You’re awesome!  You’re wonderful! You can do it!” But as cheesy as it might sound, it does work.  These are friends who genuinely believe in what they are saying.  When you get down, such friends pick you up and keep you moving forward.  When you have made a small win, they are there to celebrate with you; and importantly to remind you that you have achieved a small win and that you need to celebrate.

7. Have an Attitude of Gratitude

It may be a cliche, but having a grateful heart and a grateful attitude fills your heart and soul with positive energy.  Complaining and whining, however understandable, does not serve you.  Why wouldn’t you want to pick the path that serves you and fuels you?  Pick the grateful path.  Reflect on the blessings you have.  It could be your spouse or partner, or your kids.  Perhaps it is friends.  Perhaps it is the achievements you have made or the people you have helped; or the people who have helped you.  Be grateful for these opportunities.  When you have a grateful heart, the world does not seem so bad.  It will give you more energy to take the next step.

Coming out of a dark place, a challenging crucible, is not easy.  The road may not be short.  But the road to coming back from your crucible, even to lessening the sense of fatigue and hopelessness, begins with ONE SMALL STEP.  Each small positive step builds on the next.  Pretty soon you will have a flywheel of positive small steps.  Perhaps some of your cheerleading team will be part of your team to help a budding vision you are having come to reality.  A vision, be it small or large, is birthed out of one positive small step.  What one positive small step will you take today that years from now you will look back and celebrate?  This was the step that led me to where I am now.


  • What one small positive step can you take today to begin moving beyond your crucible fatigue?
  • What will you do to celebrate it?
  • Is there a vision that is being birthed out of these positive small steps? If so, what is it?
Start Moving Beyond Your Crucible Today
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