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How often have you read an article about how to accomplish your goals? Did the ideas in the article seem foreign to you?

That’s the problem with how-to articles and books. They always seem to be written for someone else. The methods for self-improvement appear to be written for aliens from another planet. Nothing ever seems to be relevant to my reality. This, I have found, tends to defeat the objective the author is trying to accomplish.

I got thinking about this problem the other day while working on a weed-choked flower bed. As usual, it was extremely hot outside, and I decided the best approach would be to do a small amount of weeding, then take a short break. Or even a longer break if needed in order to cool down. If you were to follow the advice of many self- improvement publications, you would probably find that they recommend you pursue whatever project you are working on until it is completed.

And for many of us, that is just not going to happen. If you’re like me, you tend to function better when you break down projects into smaller amounts of time and effort. Somehow that helps to make the goal more achievable. For instance, if you decide to clean out your walk-in closet, the chore can seem overwhelming when you really look at it. All those clothes, shoes, and other items crammed into the space can actually seem like a tsunami pouring out at you. You know that this is going to be a truly big project – one that will probably require hours if not days of effort. Knowing that you’re expected to stay with this task until it is completed is just impossible. And for many of us, that’s enough to make us quit before we even get started.

What works much better for me is to break down the project into smaller, more manageable portions. One way to do this is to set a time limit as to how long you will work on one of the segments. Or you can separate the closet project into different areas to be dealt with – shelves, cubbyholes, clothing on hangers etc. Then you only have to accomplish one time period or one area as that day’s goal.

It’s up to you to decide which way to divide up the project. Some people do better knowing they can stop at a certain time. Others do just as well by tackling spaces instead of time. You know what works best for you. Way too many self-improvement articles and books are written by highly organized authors. They in turn are writing for people who are naturally organized themselves. We have to face the fact that some of us are just not organizers by nature. We need all the practical help we can find.

And now it’s time for me to go back out and put in some more time weeding my flower bed. I absolutely believe that 15 minutes is more than enough for the next session . . .

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