Change, profound change as in a transformation, requires perseverance. So will most difficult tasks or projects. Sometimes we can get so bogged down or overwhelmed with the enormity or difficulty of a task before us that we either fail to start or give up along the way. There are perseverance strategies to help prevent that from happening.
Once, I asked a friend to help me fill a ditch with gravel. It was a trench with a corrugated pipe laid in the bottom that had to be covered with stone to form what is called a French drain which serves to transport water away from a structure.
I ordered a dump truck load of gravel which was delivered promptly at the appointed time, all 14 tons of it! It was a mountain sized pile of gravel. I grew tired just looking at it.
Now fourteen tons of gravel equals 28,000 pounds. To put this in some perspective, a 2014 Chevrolet Tahoe weighs 7,100 pounds so we were looking at moving the equivalent weight of just under four full sized Tahoe’s. We had a shovel each and a rickety shallow wheel barrow. The ditch was sixty feet long. The task at hand seemed so daunting.
Dennis thought it would take all weekend. I was a little more optimistic and thought it would take the entire day. Reluctantly, we started to shovel. One wheel barrow load at a time, we began to move gravel.
We both learned something that day which has had application to many daunting tasks I have had to face since then. When faced with a mountainous task here are some steps that will help get you through to a successful outcome, namely task completion:
1) Dig in. Just beginning is the thing with most seemingly difficult tasks. Procrastination is a tool we often use to forestall our efforts due to our anxiety over starting. Just beginning offers some forward momentum and will immediately relieve the anxiety of starting. Haven’t you felt that before, the relief of starting?
2) Stay on task by avoiding getting caught up in unanticipated distractions or, worse yet, by looking for them. This is an old trick of the mind, to look for ways out of doing what you need to do by finding things you would rather do. Unless we are vigilant the mind, just like water, will always look for the path of least resistance. Is this something you have had to deal with at times?
3) Focus on slow and steady progress which is key. Some tasks you just can’t rush. Rushing creates mistakes. Mistakes take time to fix which delays task completion. In your experience, does hurry ever help?
4) Remember, there is no such thing as multitasking if there is one thing you must do well. Being able to do multiple things all at once and do them all well is an illusion. If there is one thing you want to excel in doing then just do the one thing until it’s done. Have you found multi-tasking to be the pathway to true excellence in all things or just a dead end for many?
5) Give yourself the gift of time. Set aside adequate time to complete a task. Avoid waiting until the last minute to begin. Avoid the trap of under estimating the time required which will just add pressure you until you’re finished. That is never a comfortable feeling. When it comes to completing your work, is this something that sounds familiar to you?
6) Keep your eye on the prize. It will always pay off in the end. How many times have you finished a large and difficult project, stepped back and thought, “That wasn’t that bad” or “That wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be”? Probably more times than not. It will help to remember that when headed in to your next big project, or even a small one you’ve been dreading.
Oh, how long did it take Dennis and me to move that 28,000 pounds of gravel? Just 4 hours, one shovel at a time, one wheel barrow at a time. It surprised and delighted us both.