NO! It’s not like the opposite of counting one’s blessings and miring oneself in the things that suck about life. It’s about the value of breaking down overwhelming tasks in to manageable chunks.
How powerful we feel to take on tasks often depends on the bigger picture of how we’re doing in general. But big projects have to be broken down, and sometimes small ones do, too. Basic, YES, but not an early lesson for me. I have a much longer history of looking at goals of all sizes and running as fast as I can (which doesn’t happen to be very fast) the opposite way because I could not see a path to the goal. Not to mention the fact that I was terrified of not knowing what to do and making mistakes. Understanding that my life will end has been a key motivator for me in learning to create paths for myself.
Once I started looking toward goals that were actually possible instead of constantly looking backwards and regretting all that I have not done (like become an olympic gymnast, get discovered by a Hollywood agent and be on T.V., become the youngest person to blah blah blah…), I did a kind thing for myself.
Faced with the weedy vegetable garden, I thought, “There are so many weeds in there. I do NOT want to spend the next three hours out here, weeding. That’s what always happens when I work in the yard. I say I’m going to spend an hour out here and it turns in to an all-day thing. Just forget weeding! I’ll do it this weekend. Buuuuuuuut, I have time now. And I’m tired of looking at those weeds. I hate dancing around the lettuce and trying not to fall over on to the artichoke plant. But the weeds have to go. Shoot!”
So, I made a deal with myself. 100 weeds. I would pull 100 weeds. It was a big enough number to make a difference in the garden, but it was small enough that I could already see the end of the weed-pulling. Strategically placed between rows of edibles, I started counting as I dug and pulled. “One, two, three, four…” and then at about fifteen, my mind started wandering. I was still pulling though, but didn’t know how many I had gotten. Okay, then. “Sixteen, seventeen…” and the same thing happened repeatedly on the way to 100. I simply picked up at the last number I recalled saying to myself and continued the count until I got distracted again.
In the end, I probably pulled 200 weeds. It was not a job done, but it helped. Getting those weeds pulled brought a feeling of satisfaction and lessened burden. Instead of allowing myself to be defeated by the fact that the need to weed is perpetual (if one cares about one’s garden), and running [slowly, ahem] toward inaction, I changed my mentality about the job and accomplished something. Funny how limiting my goal actually gave me morepower. The next time I create an unreasonable expectation of myself, I am going to remember to make a way to count the weeds- the helpful way