It was a bleak, grey morning, and my 14-year-old daughter sat on the couch in her pyjamas, really struggling to get started on a massive homework project that she had. It was as though the burden of the project hung over her as dark as the clouds outside. The project seemed daunting and unachievable.
After some cajoling, I managed to get her to get dressed and we headed off to a cafe down the road. And that’s when I started to teach her (as best a dad can) to work out what the next step was. I asked her to break down the next step … then break it down further … and then break it down even more, until we got to the real simple achievable next step.
The problem a lot of us have when we’re faced with a big task, or with an assignment or with a massive project, is that we keep thinking about the outcome, and we fail to break it down to the next step.
What is the very next thing that I need to do?
In the case of my daughter’s protest poetry, she had to first narrow down who it was she was going to protest about. She had to find two or three people, or causes, that she could protest about. Once she had those, she had to decide on one! That was the next step.
And then once she had that, she had to break that down and learn something about the cause that she was protesting for. Then brainstorm the verses of the poem. Then she was away.
Easy … or at least easier.
When you’re faced with a challenge, or a project or an assignment, how can you break it down further?
How can you look for that next step?
What might that next step be? One that you could complete in a few minutes that would move you forward.
Once you are moving it’s surprising how momentum follows.