I have spoken recently about the importance of setting SMART Goals that are both realistic and timely, and the importance of celebrating the small wins that take you closer to the bigger Goals, and this is something I obviously adopt in my own working life, but sometimes you can take on too many tasks at once, and it doesn’t matter how organised and goal oriented you are, sooner or later things are going to come crashing down around you.
When taking on a new challenge the first thing I do is assess what I want to get out of it and how I am going to achieve this, ie: what processes am I going to follow and what steps do I need to take for this to become a reality. What I am doing here is creating some semblance of order in the apparent chaos that is, well any new experience really.
I liken this to a giant jigsaw puzzle, or more specifically, how my Mother used to approach the ones she did. When I was growing up she was always attempting the ‘mega 5000 piece Puzzle’ or something ridiculous like that and I would watch and abject horror as she poured the contents into a pile on the table and 1000’s of almost identical pieces fell in such a way that only a chaos theorist would be enjoying the moment.
Making Cents from the Chaos
I would wonder how on earth she was ever going to even start getting this thing looking like a windmill, or a house on a hill, or whatever cliché scene was depicted, but Mum would always calmly start the process of breaking down the massive task into smaller ones. Everyone does this with a Jigsaw puzzle, in fact if we applied this rationality to our everyday lives then we would all be a lot happier with our lot in life. But I digress.
When you, my Mum, or anyone for that matter starts a jigsaw puzzle the first thing they do is separate the pieces into manageable piles. First you take all the edge pieces and you put them to the side. Then you might take all the pieces that look like they are ‘sky’ and move them to the side, maybe you do the same with trees, brick walls, whatever it is. The whole time you are looking at the bigger picture and using common sense to break down the seemingly impossible task of assembling this puzzle into easier to manage ‘sections’ that, as you complete, will make the whole task a lot less daunting . Good, that works well then.
This is exactly what we know to do with our own goals in life, The SMART goals I talk about allow you to take a seemingly impossible task and break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks thus making the bigger picture seem irrelevant at the time – no more ‘oh my god how am I supposed to do THAT’ feelings. Well that’s the theory anyway.
How many is too many?
Being motivated and challenging yourself with new tasks and learning curves is all a part of life, and it is especially a part of starting your own online business, certainly if you want to be successful that is, but there is a limit to how much one person can do (outsourcing aside) and although it is good to keep yourself challenged, if this comes at the expense of everything else then it is time to sit back and reassess.
I have been doing 5 (6?) Jigsaw Puzzles at once and quite frankly I can’t remember if this piece in my hand is the sky from the aeroplane puzzle or the pale ocean from the boat one?
And why have I got 17 extra pieces of tree? Or is that a frog?
It’s great that when you start your new ‘puzzle’ that you break down the job into smaller more manageable chunks, but when you take on too much at a time, all those small ‘sections’ of work become intertwined and before you know it you cannot remember what edge piece goes with what puzzle. The problem is that in the vain effort to get as many puzzles done at once, I have lost the box with the original one, so now I am struggling to remember what it’s supposed to look like at the end.
What have I learnt from this?
I have realised that when I am setting small goals for myself they are all geared towards a common outcome. If I then set small goals to reach a completely different objective then I need to action this on a different day, it’s just too hard to try and do both the puzzles at the same time, there’s just too many pieces everywhere otherwise. Besides if I do try and keep pushing through the seemingly impossible, my fear is that I will give up altogether and take up knitting or something.
- What are your thoughts?
- What steps do you take when you are feeling overwhelmed with your progress?
- How do you stay organised and focused?