I was thinking today about accomplishing large goals, and realized that it is often more possible than it seems at first. We are capable of so much, but often get intimidated by the sheer scale of our dreams or ideas. Taking small steps, over and over, will eventually lead you to your goal. Consider the Pyramids or the Great Wall of China- incomprehensibly massive, yet they were built one brick at a time. Given enough time, effort, and proper planning, crazy ideas can be made into reality, monumental tasks can be accomplished, and the impossible can be endured.
When a task or goal seems overwhelming, try breaking it up into smaller, more manageable pieces. This will give an idea of what it will actually take to accomplish, and it may suddenly seem much more doable. Still seems overwhelming? Break it down again, and again, into the smallest possible fragments. Usually, these small bits are much less frightening and seem easier to tackle, and it puts everything in perspective. Can you run a marathon right now? Probably not. But can you do the first 20-minute practice session of a beginner's running/walking program? It's much more likely that you can handle this first small step. Then, in a few days, do it again, increasing your training in small increments. Keep it up for several weeks, then months. Learn to run for 30 seconds, 5 minutes, a full mile, then a 5K, 10K, half-marathon- and if you don't give up, next thing you know, 26.2 will be checked off your bucket list!
Another way to break things down is to try focusing on one moment. Instead of thinking about years, break it down to months, weeks, days, hours, seconds- right now, in this instant, what step(s) can you take towards your goal? Even if you feel like you could not possibly accomplish the whole task, you can almost definitely take that one small step. Overwhelmed by college? Just attend your next class, or write one more sentence in that paper. Feel like your diet is too hard? Skip just this one snack, chew some gum, get through this afternoon, or make one healthy substitution for your craving right now. Can't get through this workout? Take one more step, do one more rep. Then do it again- a few seconds of effort, and few seconds of rest. Dealing with pain? Focus on your breath, just this one inhale and exhale. Learning algebra? Get one problem done, get a good grasp on this one concept, and return to it tomorrow. Let the small victories give you a sense of joy and accomplishment- you are progressing towards your goal! Celebrate every step forward, no matter how small.
But what happens when you come to a piece that cannot be broken down any more, and is seemingly impossible to overcome? Your muscles give out, you have a mental breakdown, your get an 'F', or find yourself backtracking; when this happens, find out why. Can you take a break or try again? What would it take to overcome that one thing? Is it something within your control (i.e. willpower), or outside of it (i.e. physical impossibility, other's choices, lack of funding). If the latter, can you take any steps to influence the outcome, such as getting help/advice from an outside party, modifying your approach, fundraising, practicing, waiting, etc? Sometimes obstacles can still be overcome, but it may take more strategizing to solve the tougher problems.
But it's also not helpful to be unrealistically optimistic- some things truly are impossible. When all else has failed and you absolutely cannot take one more step towards your goal, then the time comes to make a choice about whether this goal is still worth pursuing. Sometimes this will involve asking for input from others, modifying your goal, or even abandoning it all together and mourning the loss of your plans. Even then, keep your head up- failure is not the end, and with some hope and resilience, you can form a new plan. Though it may not be your original goal, you can still accomplish something great- and sometimes, unplanned changes lead to even more spectacular results.
Remember: You are stronger than you think you are, and there is always hope.
Victorya is a scholar of life and everything that relates to it. Check out more of her insights and writings on her blog: Are.