When I look at a whole job or task or chore, it seems too big. It looms over my head and the cloud of panic and procrastination cripples me. I mentally quit even before I start. This pattern of thought plagues big important things in my life. But the little day-to-day chores take a hit too.
Take laundry for example. I have no problem putting a load into the washer. Transferring the clothes to the dryer is even easier. But folding and hanging the clothes when they are dry? Nope. I avoid those clean clothes like I do an unvaccinated child.
My problem is that I see the whole job and I shut down. It’s too daunting. Too scary and too hard. I can’t do it. I know I’ll fail so I might as well never start.
I’ve recently figured out a trick to combat my avoidance. Again, take laundry for example. I’ll walk by the demon dryer and instead of slinking past, I tell myself, “Okay, I don’t have to do the whole load. I’ll just hang the pants for now.” Sometimes I will slowly put away that load over the course of a couple days. I break off chewable pieces and progress is made. Other times I finish with the first goal and move on to another doable part right away. Before I know it, I’ve folded and put away the whole load. If I would have made the whole load my goal, I would have never stepped foot into the laundry room.
Now that I’ve got laundry down, I need to generalize this strategy. While getting household chores completed is important, there are other relational items that would benefit from making little sub-goals. I avoid huge, important social interactions because they seem too hard. My fear of failure keeps me from investing in others. Maybe if I take little steps I can make some progress. Writing a little note doesn’t sound too daunting. One bitty five minute phone call isn’t much of a commitment. If I bumble along while meeting someone for coffee I haven’t failed at the whole relationship.
If I take a little step forward, it may lead to more little steps. Even if it doesn’t, I’m farther along in the relational road than when I started. If I only focus on the perfect end goal, I’ll quit and never make any progress. I can do one step at a time. I’ll focus on putting one foot in front of the other so I don’t freeze up before I start.
Do you panic when you know overarching relational goals need to be met? What little steps can you take today? Where do you hope to end up?