Long journey, complicated work project, hiking very high mountain or writing a book – there are many difficult tasks in our lives, that seem challenging to complete. Why some people achieve unbelievable things, while others just sit and watch? How to get things that seem so complicated done?
The obvious answer to this questions is: “Do them”. And you could stop reading at this point… if it was so easy. But it isn’t. Is the answer: “start doing them” enough? Not really. A Chinese philosopher Confucius said that: “a journey of thousand miles begins with a single step” and this is the truth, but what if after a first step we stop, what if after few steps we back down? So what is the answer?
Traveling, as well as talking and writing about traveling, taught me few interesting things about completing difficult tasks.
WHAT IF THE TASK IS OVERWHELMING YOU?
1. DIVIDE IT INTO SMALLER STAGES
The best is to make a list of what you need to do and what stages you need to accomplish. Isn’t is easier to complete few smaller tasks than one but huge?
First time when I was planning a long and faraway travel I was feeling a little overwhelmed and I lacked confidence, but when I started to think about every step I have to take separately, it didn’t seem so daunting anymore. I always use this technique while planning and while on the way.
Think about it. Getting to Malapascua (this is a tiny tiny island in Philippines) – “wow, this could be really challenging, how on Earth to get there”?. But when you write down the plan and you just follow it step by step it seems really easy.
- Go by train to the airport
- Find the gate and go there
- Fly to Dubai
- Change to Manila
- Stay in hotel in Manila
- Fly from Manila to Cebu
- Drive from the airport to the port
- Take a boat to the island.
When I wrote down and planned each step it didn’t seem so complicated anymore and during my travel I was concentrating only on one task at the time, knowing that I have a plan ready for a next step. Yes, it took me 48 hours, but it was so easy to just follow the steps planned before.
This strategy works for every field, not only for planning the journey. When I write a post I write a scheme – point by point plan of what I want to write about and then I only fill the content. It feels less overwhelming than staring at a blank page and thinking of what to write next.
2. STOP THINKING – START ACTING
This may seem to be a weird advice – “I have some task to complete and I shouldn’t think about it”? Well, yes. You should not think, but act. When your plan is ready do not give it more thought, just start following the plan. Few months ago I went with my friends hiking up Mount Agung – the three thousand meter high volcano on Bali. Around one third of the way I started having thoughts “am I really fit enough to do it”, “the humidity here is so terrible, I cannot breath”, “maybe I should turn back on the next stop?” but then I decided to stop all this crap as it really made me weaker and weaker. I thought how will I feel if I go back and my friends will go on. They will have amazing memories and stories and I will just feel stupid and miserable that I didn’t go on. So I started to look around for something interesting, hum some nice song in my head and just keep on walking. I fought off any unwanted thought that tried to enter my mind, and.. I did it. I reached the summit with my friends to see beautiful sunset over the clouds. This was one of the most amazing experiences in my life and it taught me, that even when we are sure we are not able to complete the task, if we keep doing it is spite of all we will finally succeed.
Simple example. Imagine if you plan to go to the gym next morning. You wake up and start thinking if you really need to do that, if you have enough strength today, if you feel well? The answer will most likely be NO. If you just wake up and without any further consideration proceed according to your plan, you will not only complete your task, but you will also feel great and fulfilled. So, stop thinking and start acting!
3. DON’T TRY TO BE PERFECT, JUST DO YOUR BEST – IT WILL BE ENOUGH
This is one of the things that contributes to procrastination the most in my case. Perfectionism has been my curse since I remember. Why curse? Because it deters me from getting things finished. Sometimes I start to perfect a project until I cannot handle it anymore and leave it undone. Other times I don’t even start, as I only think and plan how to proceed to make it perfect. The thing is, the “perfect” in only the state of things in our heads. It doesn’t really exist as everyone perceives “perfect” differently.
I used to spend crazy hours planning our travels and my husband was going crazy with me choosing the place to stay, the route and where shall we eat and go. The good travel plan is very important of course, but it does not have to be perfect. Anyway there will be plenty of surprises on the way, and who does not like the surprises?
Example from another field, one of my passions is doing a handmade jewelry. Sometimes I spend very long time on one project trying to match the colors and compositions, and I am still not content with result. I am certain that nobody will like it because for me it is not perfect. When I finally dare to show my work to someone, it turns out that people like it and surprisingly nobody tells me “hey, if you used two tones lighter beads in this project, it would be much better”. Apparently “perfect” exist only in my head 🙂
I hope you liked my weird tips on getting things done. Please note that those are not scientifically proven methods, just my thoughts and observations what works for me. I hope it will work for you too 🙂 Good luck!
I would love to hear about your strategies on how to get things done. Let me know in the comments below.