When I was a kid, I remember a cartoon where this dog was in jail and planning his escape. His escape plan was simple – dig a tunnel underneath the prison to get him past the wall (about 500 yards). He knew that this was a big task and he didn’t have any heavy excavating equipment so he used a teaspoon – and dug the tunnel one spoonful at time.
This of course took him several years to accomplish, but it’s a good metaphor for how to handle big tasks. Had this convict just sat there and complained or worried about his situation, he would have nothing at the end of several years. By performing a consistent action – even something as small as digging a tunnel one spoonful per day – he had completed an escape route.
I know a lot of us find ourselves tasked with big projects. Sometimes, it feels like the task is impossible or too big to grasp – it’s often easier to procrastinate it away than even think about tackling it. But if you’re willing to commit to taking regular actions – big or small – you can get the task done. The trick here is to get past the initial start of the project. Some people believe that you if you can do something consistently for 21 days in a row, you’ve created a habit and will stick to it until you reach your goal. I set this number at 30 days because at the point, you’ve got a streak going. And there’s something psychological about streaks – as they extend, we’re less likely to break them.
So the next time you’re faced with a big task that seems overwhelming, break it down into smaller and more manageable chunks. And check out the cartoon below as a visual reminder of what this concept can accomplish.