Thursday Thought: Do what you can

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

Start where you are. Use what you can. Do what you can.
—Arthur Ashe


In an effort to broaden my own horizons and also minimize some of the communication gap between myself and some members of my community, I’m learning a new language. Two of them, actually.

This isn’t the first time I’ve tried to learn a new language and in the past I’ve given up because I just couldn’t (wouldn’t) spend the time I felt I needed to spend on learning. And then when I didn’t get any more fluent, I allowed my interest to fade and eventually quit.

So when I downloaded Duolingo and started learning a week or so again, I felt like I should have retained more. Why couldn’t I skip the basics and just pick up where I left off? Well, because I’m not there anymore.


Start where you are.

It’s easy to want to start from where you can see the finish line. Have faith that the line is there, that it’s reachable, and that you will reach it. And if that doesn’t get you going, just take the first step. You can’t be somewhere you’re not, so you might as well move forward from where you are. Every damn day.

Use what you can.

You may not have all the fancy tools someone else has to get to the proverbial finish line, but you do have tools. Your wit. Your character. Your work ethic. Your sense of humor. Your faith. Your creativity. When you feel yourself boxed in and don’t have a hammer to bust down the walls, get creative and use what you can instead of getting hung up on what you can’t.

Do what you can.

You may not have the time or the resources to do all the things you feel like you need to in order to get to your finish line, but remember that work ethic and creativity of yours? Use it to focus on what you can do, and then go all Nike on yourself and just do it. And when a roadblock happens, take a deep breath and get back on the road when you can.


I’m applying Arthur Ashe’s ideas about how to create change in my resolve to learn at least one of the languages I’m studying right now, but these can be applied to really any change you’re getting started on in your own life.

Don’t get caught up in the bullshit excuses your gremlins use to try and keep you small. Just start where you are, use what you can, and do what you can. Change will come if you let it.

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