Small Steps and Wins
Do you like checking things off on your to-do list? Whether digital or with pen, there's an amazing feeling of accomplishment when you can check something off, cross it out, tear it up...or however you indicate that it's done.
The problem arises when you have something large or overwhelming that you need to accomplish. You can't even imagine getting it done since you don't know where to start.
That's when it's critical to break things down into small steps, or even sub-projects. David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD®) system differentiates between projects and tasks: projects are made up of many steps or tasks, but each task is a stand-alone next step.
And sometimes that's all it takes: taking that small next step.
I've been reading a lot about habits and how one can build them, and many of the experts and books recommend making it easy to take that first step, because once you do, it's a lot easier to keep going.
And even that first step is a win: you've started and you're headed in the right direction. Now just build on that momentum. And if it helps to track it, grab a calendar and mark a big X through every day that you make progress, since seeing that string of Xs will motivate you not to break that streak of wins.
I've three things I want to make progress on daily, with one main one. So far I've managed to get two out of three most days, and yesterday I took a first small step towards the third one.
Once upon a time I would have been beating myself up over not being able to do more, but I've grown older and a bit wiser and recognize that big successes are built on just such small steps and wins.
Takeaway: When overwhelmed, break things down into small actionable steps since each small step is a win that you can build on.