My family is planning an upcoming vacation to Europe and we’ve settled on some specific sites that each person wants to see. Given my family’s German heritage, I’ve chosen to tour one of the most famous castles in the Bavarian Alps and the model for Disney’s Cinderella Castle – Neuschwanstein Castle. In the middle of our trip planning, my husband (who can’t pass up a garage sale or thrift store) found a 2,000-piece jigsaw puzzle of this very castle. Of course, we immediately wanted to put the puzzle together. But how overwhelming it was to open the box and see an unending mix of pieces!
In many areas of work and life we can easily feel overwhelmed – like a 2,000-piece puzzle that hasn’t even been started. At work, there’s your inbox with a constant flow of new emails to review. There may also be employee hiring or lay-off discussions and actions; annual events that grow larger and more complex each year; or accounting entries that have not been made in a timely manner, delaying your ability to produce accurate financial statements. Things can often pile up in your personal life as well, whether you’re trying to end an unhealthy habit, lose weight, or complete tasks around the house.
You may have heard the question, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is, “One bite at a time.” Keeping this perspective in mind with any of your goals can make the impossible feel possible and the overwhelming seem manageable. Start by setting small, short-term goals to achieve. Accomplishing each small task will eventually get you to the completion of the big goal in front of you. Review your emails one at a time, focusing on the information in each one before moving on to the next one. Make your accounting entries every day, and if you are already behind, set a goal for one additional day of entries to catch up. Likewise, at home you can schedule one load of laundry each day until you are caught up, or plan your meals in advance to start that healthier lifestyle.
It took three weeks for my husband and I to put the Neuschwanstein Castle jigsaw puzzle together. We enjoyed the process and the time spent together working on it, and loved the sense of accomplishment in the end. The only way to get there was one piece at a time.