Chunking Up The Big Things


The leaders I speak with often feel overwhelmed with a new challenge – whether it’s personal or professional. They are working long hours and may feel as though are neglecting important things already. One more thing to do just feels overwhelming. “No time”, they say. Sometimes the very thing they have “no time” for is the thing that will make a profound difference in their life.

If time is getting in your way of doing something, then you have to consider that it may not be a priority. Let’s assume that this new challenge is a priority; it’s important to you. What if you could chunk up that new challenge that feels like “one more thing”, even though it’s something you really know is important? Taking one small step could be the beginning of magic that will allow you to step into that challenge that may just make a big difference for you.

The first step leads to more

Taking that first small step often propels us forward. Like a child starting to walk – who doesn’t stop after taking its first steps. That child goes even further the next time. In favor of walking, the child will eventually say “no” to crawling. Walking takes precedence. Likewise, that first step you take will help you to understand that we can find time to fit this challenge into our life, even if it means saying “no” to other things.

All of a sudden that new challenge doesn’t feel so big, so overwhelming. Some real life examples of new challenges my clients are working on and how they are chunking them up:

Organizing: Many clients want to start their day with a clear idea of objectives for that day. How about coming into work ten minutes early and (first thing) making a list of that day’s most important “to do’s” before the phone starts ringing? For many, this simple habit actually saves a lot of time in their day by placing focus on the daily objectives and not allowing other things to waste their time.

Exercise: Many leaders are realizing the importance of exercise to their vitality and effectiveness. Yet many of are overwhelmed and blocked by the amount of time it takes to exercise. So we don’t do anything. What if you could start by exercising for a few minutes twice a week? Or, walk your dog for ten minutes. Vacuum the floors briskly for twenty minutes. Go to the gym and use the treadmill for 15 minutes. That’s a start. After each exercise period, reflect on how (much better) you feel. Eventually you may be motivated to increase the time you spend exercising.

Meditation: Some of my clients have expressed interest in meditation and the benefits it can provide in their daily lives. When they ask about how long I meditate, I tell them twenty minutes twice daily. And then they say, “I don’t have time for THAT!”. No problem. Chunk it up. How about starting with five minutes twice a day, or ten minutes once a day? If you can stick with it for awhile, you may realize the benefits and decide to increase your time with it.

“Chunking up” the big things makes them seem less overwhelming. Taking action, one small step at a time, helps us to see the benefits of that action. When that new, important challenge comes along, ask yourself: what’s the first small step I can take?


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Mary Jo Asmus is the founder and President of Aspire Collaborative Services LLC, an executive coach, writer, internationally recognized thought leader, and a consultant who partners with organizations of all kinds to develop and administer coaching programs. She has “walked in your shoes” as a former leader in a Fortune company.

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