“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
~Lao Tzu

So often we are daunted by the immensity of the task in front of us, that we never even start. It just seems too impossible, or it seems like we’ll never get it done. So why bother?

This morning I was preparing food for our holiday dinner, and the plum tomatoes I needed for the recipe needed to be cut in half. There were so, so many. Of course, even though it felt like it would take forever to cut them up and it seemed like I would never finish the task, I started cutting and worked my way through.

It seems so simple to start a task like chopping up food for a recipe, even when there are too many tomatoes in the bowl. So why is it often so difficult to launch into a project at work or at home that seems too immense? Why does it freeze us in our tracks so much so that we often never write our new business plan, complete the project report our boss’ boss requested, or clean out the closets and put order in our life?

Could it be that we use the hugeness of the task at hand as an excuse not to begin? Our mind conveniently surveys the landscape and says, “Nope, no reason to start. It’s too big. You probably won’t finish anyway – and then how bad would that feel.” Or we go into overwhelm and can’t see each tree in the forest that looms before us, so we don’t know where to begin and we choose inaction instead. It’s time to get into action and do the things we want to do for ourselves, no matter how daunting.

It’s not even necessary to explain to yourself the benefit of completing (and starting) the task, although it can be helpful. When you stop and think about how great it will feel to have that task off your to-do list, it can be a great motivator. But sometimes that can feel too forced. So instead, just look at the task, and begin. Perhaps break the task down into smaller tasks, or just launch right in and give yourself permission not to make it all the way to the finish line in this sitting. Pick a starting point; give yourself some time, space, and breathing room; and start. The way to clean all your closets is often to start with one room, or one closet, or one shelf. The way to write the report hanging over you may be to mind-map your thoughts or write the conclusion. The way to get things done is often simply to begin. And then to appreciate what you’ve accomplished, reward yourself along the way, and continue to move ahead, one step at a time.

Pick one task that you’ve been avoiding and start it. Perhaps break it down into smaller pieces, perhaps just launch in and make a dent. Then recognize your achievement and keep moving ahead.

What is the task that is hanging over you? What can you do to start that task today?
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