I remember when I was a senior in high school, I got 3 speeding tickets (hardened criminal right here) and had to do community service. "Nice, I thought, I got off lucky with that one." The judge peered past his thick glasses, directly into my naive soul, and said something along the lines of "I hear-by sentence you to 40 hours community service at the municipal court." I had never heard of that place before. And I had no idea what I was getting into.
I arrived at 8am sharp the following week (not by choice, obviously) and walked in the door. I was greeted by an older lady who had thick glasses, just like the judge. She asked how she could help, to which I replied, "I'm here for community service." I will never forget the way her eyes lit up when I said that, like she knew that what was in store for me and was excited to tell me about it. She asked me to follow her, so I did - down this long, creepy hallway that was void of all color and smelled like mildew. Our journey ended at the last door on the right. When I walked into the room, I was dumbfounded by what I saw. Stacks of paperwork that were literally 5 feet tall. Filing cabinets with papers stuffed into them, piled on top of them, freaking underneath them. It looked like a bomb went off in there. I felt a cold sensation on the back of my neck as it became clear what I would be spending these 5 horrible 8-hour long days doing. The cold sensation faded into a full blown stress induced breakdown.
I cursed my lead foot as I began to organize the disaster. 10 minutes in, I was already tempted to look at the clock. I didn't think that I would ever get the work done. It seemed like an insurmountable task. I was in an awful mood for the entire day, and left at 5pm feeling like I hadn't even made a dent. I absolutely dreaded going back.
The next day, I decided to set daily goals and focus only on attaining them rather than looking at this work like one giant task. I would organize on file cabinet at a time, and not even look at the rest of the work that I had to do. As the days went by, I started to see the fruits of my labor. I got more done, which greatly reduced my stress level. Anyone who knows me knows that stress comes with the territory for me. But I learned an important lesson through that torture... Well, two actually. Number one, don't speed. Number two, you eat an elephant one bite at a time, not all at once. Since then, I have consistently reminded myself of that. It helps me handle big projects (like this website) without getting overwhelmed. Keep this in mind when you're working on that seemingly never-ending project, struggling with that song idea, or experiencing any kind of setback. Dig your heels in, and take one step at a time. You'll get it done.
"You can’t calm the storm, so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass.”