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How to Move a Mountain

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photo credit: mahalie

You have something big you must do. And you can’t seem to get it done. Maybe you’re intimidated by the magnitude of the task. Maybe you’re paralyzed to the point of inaction because you don’t know where to start. Perhaps you are procrastinating by working on everything else besides your big to-do item. So how do you break out and get it done?

One shovelful at a time.

Easier said than done, right? Not if you can see things from the right perspective. Once you change how you think about it, then you can start your journey of a 1000 miles with that one step that will lead to the next and all the way to the finish line. Here’s how:

If you haven’t made progress on your Big Item, it’s likely that guilt is blocking you from getting started or moving forward. And on top of that, the habit of not working on your Big Item becomes more entrenched the longer you avoid it. So here’s what you need to do:

1. Forgive Yourself – beating yourself up over not making progress does not get your task or project done. In fact it makes it tougher to get it done. So just stop. Stop aiming for perfection. Be kind to yourself by giving yourself the same level of encouragement you might give to a young child trying to tackle something big.

2. Decide to Start – simply make a decision to start anew today. Decide that you’ll do your best, but that it won’t be perfect and that’s ok. You can work on quality later.

3. Take One Step – start small, but just start. Do one thing today. That’s all. Just do it. Make it the first thing you do today or if it’s the middle of the day, make it the very next thing you do.

4. Quick Plan – make your plan to do one more thing tomorrow. Just one. Don’t agonize over it. Just pick one and go on with you day.

5. Praise – give yourself massive amounts of praise for getting that one thing done! Whoo hoo! You just started a whole new habit! If you fall out of the habit, simply return to Step 1.

6. Continue – keep taking steps until your Big Item is done!

Please Share!

How do you get the big stuff done? All comments big and small are very welcomed!

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25 Responses to How to Move a Mountain

  1. Ernie Small January 17, 2009 at 5:35 am #

    i often find that the best way to get started on a daunting task is to just start “playing around” in the arena of the thing. for example, if you are going to look for a new job, pick a place that you KNOW you don’t have much of a chance of getting hired and just see what happens! (i got my first job as a waiter doing this, with not previous waiting experience, in a sushi joint, and i hadn’t even tried sushi at the time….)

  2. Rebecca January 17, 2009 at 11:30 am #

    If I have something big that needs to be accomplished, I make sure to spend at least 15 minutes everyday doing something that moves me closer to finishing it. I try to make this one of the first tasks I tackle in the morning. I find by doing this gives me momentum and I usually end up spending more time than I planned working toward my goal each day.

  3. frank p January 17, 2009 at 11:47 am #

    Excellent post. Thank you.
    One addition I made in my notes – try to focus on what you have completed, not on what is left to do.

  4. jeni January 17, 2009 at 2:36 pm #

    Some times the BIG ITEM is SO BIG I can procrastinate for months… years even. Having a list (I’m a list person, thanks!) on your blog is nice. I shall print and remind myself it takes steps to complete… THANK YOU!

  5. science dictionary January 18, 2009 at 1:32 am #

    Break tasks down into actionable steps.

    Put your action steps into categories where you can review and complete them easily.

    Set aside time each week to review your action lists, so that no items go uncompleted.
    🙂

  6. John Belo January 19, 2009 at 10:13 am #

    This is a nice article 🙂

    I particularly agree with step 3. My approach is usually to stop thinking and take the first step. Why? Because we are emotionally oversizing the task or looking too far ahead into the future.

    By focusing on doing just the next step (or next few steps) you’ll get moving and it will be easier to get through the next challenges.

  7. greg January 20, 2009 at 12:25 pm #

    You are talking iterative development.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iterative_and_incremental_development

  8. jody January 20, 2009 at 5:35 pm #

    Thanks for this post. I’ve got a big project that i just haven’t been making much progress on. I’m printing these out and sticking them on the fridge. I will get this done!

    Thanks for inspiration!

  9. agentsully January 24, 2009 at 10:15 pm #

    @Jody – thanks for sharing! Good luck with your big project!

  10. agentsully January 24, 2009 at 10:16 pm #

    @Greg – hmm, I can see that.

  11. agentsully January 24, 2009 at 10:19 pm #

    @John – so true. I often oversize the task. That’s a good way of putting it.

  12. agentsully January 24, 2009 at 10:21 pm #

    @science dictionary – thanks for sharing your suggestions!

  13. agentsully January 24, 2009 at 10:22 pm #

    @Jeni – wishing you good luck!

  14. agentsully January 24, 2009 at 10:22 pm #

    @Frank P – oh boy! such a powerful suggestion! thanks for adding that!

  15. agentsully January 24, 2009 at 10:24 pm #

    @Rebecca – thanks for sharing that. Hopefully that will help others too!

  16. agentsully January 24, 2009 at 10:25 pm #

    @Ernie – thank you for sharing your ideas and experience! Good for you!

  17. Mike Mills February 3, 2009 at 9:05 am #

    It is so much easier to break large jobs into many small ones. I like to do this on paper as a sort of to do list. Then from there I get the satisfaction of crossing them off as they are done.

  18. jnk February 8, 2009 at 11:23 pm #

    Great Post! I always tell my 4 sons to take one day at a time,to do one thing at a time. It is awesome to see that I am not the only one to think this way. We all walk one step at a time, so is life to be.

  19. Thomas February 12, 2009 at 12:08 am #

    I really believe focus on the smaller parts of a big task is great advice. “Don’t look down” (Or Up). Just focus on waht you have in front of you and before you know it, you will be halfway there & the rest is downhill. 🙂

  20. Jimmy April 6, 2009 at 6:25 pm #

    Those are very good tips, I would add making lists of things to do

  21. Online math tutor July 27, 2009 at 2:25 am #

    well these dignified suggestions can definitely boost the motivation and inspiration in once heart and can challenge him to move the mountain…. to be true i really loved the forgive yourself part… because there are many people out there who… just live in a delusion that they are not good or they are less good or talented than others… and just because of this misconception they ruin their whole life…. and i think after reading it here many will learn to live a new life.. thanks for this helpful post.. 🙂

  22. Stonner October 7, 2009 at 11:31 pm #

    If I want to do some things that lead to future progress then I will do so carefully and try to finish as quickly as possible. I strongly agree with the step 3.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] one step. Then take another step. Then another. Finally, you will have climbed a mountain! You can only do it one step at a time. Accept that. Do what you can today. Do more tomorrow. Be […]

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  1. […] mind. Don’t allow yourself to think anxious thoughts. Don’t contemplate the large mountain. Simply work on the immediate task at hand. Have faith that by simply plugging away you will […]

  2. […] one step. Then take another step. Then another. Finally, you will have climbed a mountain! You can only do it one step at a time. Accept that. Do what you can today. Do more tomorrow. Be […]

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