Lessons I Need to Keep Learning…Over, and Over, and Over

by Lindy on June 6, 2011

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1. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

I like to sometimes think I can go from zero to fabulous within 24 hours.  That everything I want will just come to me if I make a tiny effort. That I should be farther along in this [project, learning, career, etc.] than I am.  And then I pout when I’m not.

Did you know that the Trevi Fountain in Rome took 30 years to build?  And there are a ton more fountains with nude dudes in that town.

Be patient.  Keep working hard. Keep going forward. You’ll get there, just not overnight.

2. I’m not super-human.

But wouldn’t that be cool?

I may have watched too many episodes of Trading Spaces in my formative years, resulting in my tendency to have unrealistic expectations about what I can accomplish in any given 48 hours.

But the people on Trading Spaces probably didn’t have kids who wanted their sippy cups refilled every 15 minutes.  Or five loads of laundry to do either.

I need to learn to focus on one project for any given weekend.  Or maybe two.  Definitely not ten.

Steps

3. One step at a time is the only way.

I have a tendency to see the entire staircase and start hyperventilating.

Instead of focusing on one step at a time, I see the first 10 steps, and then more steps beyond those, and then I think of the steps that I can’t even see yet.  And by the end of this mental game I’ve worked myself into a total tizzy, given up any hope for the future, and gotten nothing done in the meantime.

Enter The List. I’ve been trying to embrace it lately.  It helps me tame my overwhelmable nature.

Step 1: Make a list

Step 2: Do first item on list

And so-on. Easy, right?

Maybe someday I’ll learn these lessons once and for all.

But until then, I’m a work in progress.

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  • Very nice post. Great visuals and lessons.

    Lists have become my lifesaver in getting things done. It is scientifically proven that I am 95% more likely to finish something if I put it on a list.

  • Great post. It is so true for many of us. We think we can do it all, take on too much, then hyperventilate at the millions of steps needed to make it all happen.

    I think your approach is great “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and I had no idea that fountain took 30 years to create. I do know of other beautiful things that took years to make. Great creations are not instant.

    Also one step at a time is the only way to do things.

  • Lindy, I am / was so the same way – I think doing stuff around the house (or working at home) can be SO much harder than going into a workplace for that whole overwhelm and getting pulled off course thing. I suppose that’s why people use systems like GTD, but mine is much easier than that since I have to use it to focus and not allow myself to get pulled off track. I’ve created too many messes in home reno projects and not finishing them properly doing it any other way.

    There’s also a wee bit of unrealistic magical thinking in there too when I think of how much I can get done. I have to break it down, add up time to complete each step, times it by about 1.5 and then pat myself on the back if I get done under that. :-)

  • I am totally the same way. I think to myself: I can lose 5 pounds in 2 weeks, right? (Ignoring all the medical advice that says this is a bad idea.) Then for the next two days, I spend 3 hours a day at the gym. By day 3, I’m exhausted … and revert right back to my old habits.

    One step at a time is the only way to get things done … slow and steady wins the race!

    • Lindy

      Yep, weight loss fits right into these lessons too. :)

  • Really, really great post! This is so me! I think we all need to cut ourselves a bit of slack and make sure we’re just doing a bit each day. Slow and stead wins the race!

  • Being ADD and a Gemini it is in my nature, there NOT MY FAULT, that I start a hundred projects and finish NONE. That’s a Gemini trait. The good news is the ADD means I leave them unfinished really really fast! Oh, maybe that’s more bad news.
    My survival depends on my “To Do List” book that I get from Dollarama. Only $1.00 for a book that lasts an entire YEAR! I make my list of things “to do” and there are cute little boxes to check off as things get done. Of course I also draw a line through them as they are completed also as that is much more satisfying than a little checkmark in a box. The things that don’t get done today get put on tomorrow’s list. Off my mind and onto the paper. It goes everywhere I go.

    • Lindy

      Well I happen to be a Gemini too! That to-do paper sounds fantastic. I do agree that crossing done items off is much more satisfying than a check box.

  • Oh, I’m so guilty of way underestimating how long something will take. I also underestimate how much project around the house will cost.

    Also, don’t start a new project before you finish the other ones around the house first.

    You know I think it’s gotta be some kind of evolutionary trick, kind of like forgetting how horrible labor and delivery was with your first kid. If we really knew how long stuff took, we probably wouldn’t be as motivated to better ourselves and the things around us.

    Most of us know that we can’t lose weight easily by working out or dieting for a week, but we still think we can do it so we start and those of us who stick with it eventually get repaid 3 or 4 months later.

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