Doubtless you’re familiar with the slogan, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
You might even be familiar with its epilogue; “It’s all small stuff.”
Although that may be true in the deeper, philosophic sense, into each life some genuinely big projects and tasks will fall. On these occasions, daunting as they may be, it’s up to each one of us to do the best we can. In fact, often these seemingly insurmountable obstacles can become the stepping-stones to a successful career.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Hit the Minimize Button – You can do it on your computer, so why not try it with your life? Don’t turn whatever’s lurking on your to-do list into the kind of monster that once lurked under your bed. How many times have you dreaded a certain task or meeting, only to find that once you got to it, it wasn’t so bad. Put your challenges into perspective.
Chip Away – The next step is to divide and conquer. Take that project you can’t imagine finishing and break it down into parts you can see yourself whipping into shape. Identify the key elements of your project, and the order in which they must be completed.
Lines in the Sand – Set yourself deadlines for each part of your project. Even though they’re self-imposed, give them the same respect you would a directive straight from the boss’s mouth.
Tell Your Boss – In fact, let your boss know exactly what you’re up to. Outline the steps you’ve identified and the dates by which you expect to complete them. This will accomplish two things; it will raise the stakes for you, keeping you on task and, by keeping your boss in the loop, it will give you a certain degree of supervisory cover for what you do.
Bribe Yourself – You could call it a “reward” if it makes you feel better, but however you describe it, recognize the incremental progress you make on your big project. That could mean ringing a bell, buying yourself a really fancy coffee drink when you have to work late on that report, treating yourself to a great deli sandwich or putting a dot on a giant flow chart. Seeing progress is a great way to inspire yourself to push further.
Tell Your Story – Whatever it is, this isn’t the first challenge you’ve ever faced. Remind yourself of previous triumphs over tough tasks and personal fears. You’ve beaten the odds before and you’ll do it again. Make a point of telling yourself that someday this, too, will be one of those stories.
by Danielle Dresden