“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”
Five years ago, my four-year-old son went to preschool for the first time. We bought his uniform and supplies, and he seemed fine with this whole school thing. Suddenly, the first day of school arrived. He woke up and got dressed and he ate his breakfast with no problem.
It wasn’t until we were walking out the door to the car that his nerves got the best of him. He started saying, “But I just want you, mommy.” Most of the way to school, he repeated this little phrase that touched my heart.
When we got to school, he became a little more resistant and stood on the side walk with wide eyes. He began to say, “I don’t want to go.” For a minute, I didn’t think I would get him to move. Gently, I took his hand and reassured him. He watched as the kids marched in to school, which made him feel a little better.
He took my hand and walked to the door where the vice-principal took his hand and led him in. Once he was inside, he was fine and had a great day. When I picked him up in the afternoon, he was helping his teacher clean-up the room and smiling as he worked.
He was scared when he walked into the school building, but he went in and realized that it was fun. Sometimes, we see a project or job as hard and don’t want to start it, but, if we do start the project, we realize it was not as bad as we thought it would be.
“It always seems impossible until it is done.”
That week I decided my car had to be cleaned. After a summer of vacations, it looked like a garbage truck. My kids had spilled drinks, thrown food on the floor, and left their toys scattered all over the place. My tolerance for the disorganized mess was gone.
When I got to the place where I vacuum my car, I got out and looked at the mess. Not only did the car have to be vacuumed, but I had to organize all our stuff just to get to the floor. It seemed impossible. How was I going to get it all done?
After a few minutes, I thought of a plan that would help me clean my car. I sectioned off each part of the car and made a list of things I needed to do to each section. With each section, I separated the toys from the trash. The trash went into the trash can and the toys went into the back of my car. Finally, I vacuumed the section and went on.
Within an hour I was done. What seemed impossible before I began was completed in no time. When I make a project plan and work toward completion, I am more satisfied and able to do more challenging projects as I go. Unfortunately, in the past, I would give up on the project before I began, because it looked too complicated. Well, looks can be deceiving.
“Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
On that Thursday, I came home from dropping my kids off at school and decided it was time to clean my home. The first thing I did was make my plan. I drew a diagram of my living room and divided it into 9 squares. Each square was numbered 1-9, and I started organizing and cleaning each area starting with area 1.
This planning process and the act of starting to clean my home was my ambition. Next, I worked until I had to go pick up my sons. When I got home from picking up the boys, my prize was walking into the half cleaned and organized living room. It was not totally complete, but anyone who walked into the living room saw that I worked.
Friday morning, I got right back to work, so that I could complete the cleaning and organizing project. This is a process that only I could do. Even if someone else was hired to come into my home, I would still need to tell them where everything went and what needed to be thrown or given away.
Each day, I will make a plan to organize and clean a room in my home. Next, I will organize and clean my kitchen, and then I will do the same in the dining room. Although this looks like a daunting task, each day I will work until it is done.
Just the act of starting the cleaning process has made a world of difference in how difficult I perceive the project. It looks like a lot in the beginning, but each day it becomes a smaller and smaller project. Soon, I will be at the end of the project and it will be easy to do the planning and work.
“Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential.”
This week I want to encourage you to start a project that you have put off. First, make a plan and get what you need to start the project. Next, start doing a small part of the project. Once you have completed that small part, go on to the next part. Put a timer on and work on the project an hour at a time, or, if you only have 20 minutes, then set the timer and work for that 20 minutes.
Finally, trust that you will get the project done. If you do not believe that you will complete it, then you probably never will. When you are overwhelmed and feel like giving up, do smaller portions of the project and get them done. Just the completion of a small part of the project will help encourage you to complete more of the project.
For example, I started my fall cleaning with my car. My car is a lot smaller than my house, so I was able to get it organized and cleaned in five hours (it was a real mess!). Next, I made the plan for my living room, and I started cleaning and completed 55% of it. The next day, I could easily start on the living room, because I knew that I had less than 50% to go until I was finished.
Challenge: Use the following to breakdown big projects that scare you into smaller parts that move you toward success.
- Create a plan to complete a project.
- Break down the project into smaller projects.
- Start with one area and move on as you can.
- Believe that you can complete the project.
- Complete the project and reward yourself.
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