By far, my favorite season of the year is fall. Summer comes to a close, with all its freedoms and adventures. Nature sheds its green coat in a period of glorious golden surrender and gears up for another trek through the winter. Another year comes our way.

It is simultaneously the season of reward and renewal. We reap the fruits of our labors. We look back at our work. We set new directions and begin new chapters. It is a time of vibrant colors, flavors and warm conversations. More than any other time of year, fall seems to be the time that causes me to reflect on the reality of progress and movement in my life.

Progress is something that I think about a great deal. Nothing is more terrible to me than the notion of a wasted life, of wasted opportunities. Here are two mighty lessons I have learned lately on this issue.

The Power of Plodding

There is no movement forward unless we learn to put one foot in front of the other. Often times our pride causes us to dream dreams and make plans that we will “some day” set out to accomplish. We want perfection. We want safety. We want to make sure that we will not loose something in the process. And so we stay in the safe zones of our regular routines. We build a grand picture of the things we may accomplish in life but we are always just a few steps behind them. And frankly, we like it that way.

On the other hand our laziness functions in a similar manner. We equate thinking up some great idea with its actual accomplishment. The sluggard has much to say about everything but has never taken time to build insight, take risks, set goals and accomplish them. Laziness causes one forget the 100 mile chasm between the notion of accomplishment and almost-accomplishment.

There is no progress without developing a steady pattern of movement forward. Building a lifestyle of consistency and hard work causes us to maintain a realistic relationship between our self perception, our perception of our surroundings and the actual world we live in. It keeps our feet planted in the dirt of reality. An imperfect reality is far better than a perfect idea. Our future is the fruit of our hands not our imaginations.

The Ignition of Inspiration

And yet consistent work is not enough. Especially in the past few months, I have seen that our growth and progress is directly proportionate to the level of our motivation and inspiration in life. Consistency provides us with the wheels, while inspiration provides the energy that moves us forward in life. C.S. Lewis in particular has helped me to see that, the capacity of the human heart to be driven and inspired is far greater than we often may think. In a culture of fast and useless inspirations and distractions, we have become content to feed our souls on junk food. We have forgotten the vigor and might of a soul that feasts on true food.

How much we accomplish in life is directly proportionate to the weight of energy that moves us through our daily struggles, pains and challenges. True inspiration is something that sinks much deeper than the ebb and flow of our superficial emotions. Rather, it sends its roots down to the deep dirt of the convictions that form our worldview. A rich and realistic worldview will yield a rich and growing life of fruitful inspiration. And its harvest multiplies with the passing years.

More than ever I am finding that it is critical for me to constantly pause in my daily grind and reflect on the things that drive me. Where am I going? Why is that? What makes me so sure? I need to come back to the foundation of my worldview and ask myself why I believe in the things that I believe. I need to remind myself of the story that my life is part of.

Otherwise I forget. I allow my perspective to get distorted. I waste time. I allow myself to go on rabbit trails and squander opportunities. But life is too beautiful and rich to just be let go like that.

So fall is here and life is moving forward to new chapters. I am deeply thankful to God for another amazing year, new inspirations, new milestones and new challenges. I am excited to soak up this season and move with greater momentum into the next.