During the academic year 2008/9 we lived on a farm. It was great! Ben, my son, loved to see the tractors on the fields surrounding us.
I can remember one day as I trundled off to work how wonderful it would be to spend the whole day in a tractor, ploughing the field. Then I remembered that, for the farmer, the field is the equivalent of the five classes I had to teach that day. In fact, for the farmer, it was worse. Not only was the task he had to perform time-consuming, it was monotonous yet important for his future income.
We all face times when we’ve got seemingly insurmountable and monumental problems and tasks to complete. But, as with Zeno’s paradoxes of motion, unless we actually make the first step the task will seem impossible. My Ed.D. thesis, for example, felt of this magnitude before I started spending an hour before school some mornings working on it.
So approach big tasks as if you were eating an elephant. Go for one bite at a time. Turning over the problem in your mind makes it bigger and bigger. Starting on the road towards its completion – even in a small way – leaves you satisfied and removes some of the fear surrounding it.