Stay the Course Take Smaller Bites

Today slowly but surely and inch by inch things are getting done. We are making slow but steady progress on the house, on my work and personal projects. I am taking smaller bites instead of focusing on the tasks as a whole. and I can do small deliberate acts with intention and grace. I get overwhelmed when I fixate on those projects that seem larger than me and that has been today’s difference.

Rather than fixating on how hanging a picture requires first to remove the old hooks, then to spackle the walls, then to paint, and if painting then what colors, and if one color all colors for the house, and trim, and fixtures, and all too easily I have fallen down the rabbit hole and into the abyss. Whereas today I am simply doing the small things that I can to move forward. To be honest, those small things are not delightful at all. It is organizing a box, writing a list. Seemingly making no headway what-so-ever but rather doing tiny things that have no real bearing on the success of the larger project. But that my friends, is an illusion. Because it is exactly these small steps that will yield the greatest results.

Do you ever have a week at work where it feels unproductive because nothing is completed? You maybe kick a project further down the road, a conversation here, an email there. You really have nothing to report to your peers or your boss on your performance because nothing is resolved, it is all up in the air. And yet. And yet! There will be a single day, often a Friday when no one is in office to witness it, when everything seems to resolve itself. The knot you’ve been teasing and working out for months suddenly shifts and falls away. Your email inbox is empty, your project list limited to a single page or better yet shorter than ten items long. You don’t need to call anyone or email or write anything – all of your work is done – for now. 

Your work does not get resolved by some divine intervention or by a Herculean effort on your or anyone else’s part. It is not that on a seemingly unremarkable day miracles happened. It was those days, sometimes weeks, of these little steps being completed. It is the tiny, insignificant calls, texts, steps that led to monumental shifts. For that one day of glory and accomplishment there were countless hours of thought, reflection, and dull oftentimes tedious work being done quietly and without aplomb. And that is where I am right now. 

Someday I will have a stunning home and all of my projects will be celebrated successes but right now they are slowly growing in their chrysalises, falling apart and coming together in totally new and previously unimagined shapes. I am doing the drudge work, the minutia, and the million little things that all must happen in order for me and my work to be prepared for that glorious revelation. And until then I must keep that goal in the back of my mind but the small steps at the forefront. What I can do is the work. 

Success is not a single day and it is not a single step, it is an ongoing process and the best thing I can do is show up and do the work. One box of unpacking, one set of hooks removed, one decision at a time. I can only imagine what it will look like in the future but for now I roll up my sleeves and get to work. How you do break apart larger projects into smaller bites? What tools or techniques do you use to remind yourself to stay on track? What encourages you to keep going?