Backyards and Baby Steps

Crabgrass is serious business. As my husband and I watched the invasion of our lawn at the start of this summer, we feared that we’d be left with only two choices: A) spend our savings on some professional yard help, or B) call our home “Crabgrass Manor” and hope that we start a new neighborhood trend. But I wasn’t ready to bend to the will of the weeds just yet.

My summer schedule tends to be flexible, so I promised to go out every morning and yank crabgrass for fifteen to thirty minutes. I don’t particularly enjoy weeding, of course–does anyone?–but the small blocks of time were easy to slide into my daily routine, and the brief commitment meant that I could stop when I was starting to feel overly hot and miserable.

Now that summer is coming to an end and crabgrass season is going with it, my husband and I are finally seeing some major backyard progress. We even took some of the money we would have spent on a lawn guy, and instead are splurging on an outdoor Labor Day shindig. Best of all, our guests won’t have to peer over the top of the weeds when they’re trying to play bocce ball or toss horseshoes.

As folks regularly set goals and make plans for their lives, the ability to see the “big picture” of things can be helpful. But how many of us have given up on a goal from the start because the big picture is too overwhelming? How often do we skip a long exercise session because it’s just easier to sit on the couch and eat doughnuts? Who among us has never attempted to clean out a packed closet or attic, only to turn away saying, “Aw, screw it–this will take all day!”

If you set out to weed an entire yard, lose eighty pounds, or clean out a closet, you might just burst into tears and declare the whole thing impossible. Similarly, if you start writing the Great American Novel, you may find yourself staring at blank pages or coming up with excuses not to actually start.

Hey, all of the above are hard. But if you approach them in small, manageable, consistent chunks, you’ll have no choice but to eventually see progress.

What if, instead of completing your novel by New Years, you simply plan to write for thirty minutes a day?

Can’t mange thirty? Try twenty. Try fifteen.

Just make sure it’s not none. Because none is the only amount that won’t add up over time.

Next Week: The Importance of Getting Up Early

Writer and educator Sara Goas is a graduate of Lycoming College, and she specializes in creating content for the web. Her site has more examples of her work.


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