Make Plans, Not Excuses

Sean Baumstark avatar

by Sean Baumstark |

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awkward moments, progression, Rare Disease Day, grief, move forward, small lessons

I’m grateful to be alive in this day and age. Of course, I’m grateful to be alive at all, but there is something special about the tumultuous, stressful, and unique circumstances that humanity has been experiencing recently. Many things are heartbreaking and maddening, too, but I feel privileged to be a part of life on Earth right now.

I’ve heard it said dozens of ways, but the words of former NFL player and ALS awareness advocate Steve Gleason are among my favorite: “In the midst of adversity, we will find our greatest opportunities.” 

Everyone experiences hardships, challenges, and even heartbreak, and it’s during those experiences that we tend to realize our own resolve. Our responses and reactions to the hard things help make us stronger, faster, and more empathetic and understanding. In a sense, hardships are instrumental lessons for fierce and intentional living.

One side of me would prefer to avoid as many challenges as possible, but the other side of me realizes the character and steadfastness that likely develops “in the midst of adversity.”

Of all the lessons I could point to in the last 12 months — from breaking my femur to things related to a pandemic, and the financial impact of both — the one thing that sticks out loud and clear is the need for a plan.

Hoping for a stronger leg is not enough to create a stronger leg. Hope can certainly be fuel to the fires of motivation and determination, but hope by itself cannot change a thing.

Nothing important happens by accident, and all my hopes won’t make things better. Instead, I need a plan, and to take action in executing those plans. 

The secondary lesson I’m realizing is the value of the granular process that will help me execute my plans and realize my hopes. Taking the time to identify realistic and actionable things I can do today, or this week, helps make some larger-than-life hopes more attainable.

I am grateful to be alive right now because the opportunities to affect change are almost limitless. Whether it’s regarding general public health, economic and socioeconomic concerns, pollution, or relatively new ventures like ride-sharing and electric vehicles, history is being written all around us.  

My contribution to society, or just my community, won’t amount to much, though, if I don’t actively plan and take the necessary actions to have an effect. I find it easy to follow someone’s lead, be it a supervisor at work or a political representative, when they communicate their granular, step-by-step plan of how we will achieve a particular objective.

Just knowing what I want or where I want to go will never be enough to get me there.

When you start dreaming of some of the things you want to accomplish, remember to consider the small steps you can take today to move in that direction. 

It’s easy to come up with excuses for why some things didn’t happen, but there are never any good excuses.


Friedreich’s Ataxia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Friedreich’s Ataxia News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Friedreich’s ataxia.


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