I still see sometimes mountains from an issue I just don’t know how to tackle. Yet, helped with experiences and maturity (I feel dreadfully old saying this, yet it’s true), I finally learned how to break it down and how to transform that monster into small steps, at the opposite of the Frog, in Jean de La Fontaine’ famous stories (the frog eventually exploses because it want to be bigger than it is).
This is part of the various strategies I developed over the years to ease my life (and the one of my dear relative and peers 🤓). It requests lot of self knowledge, emotion & values management, as well as lot of courage and self-tolerance. First, because it’s not easy to face ourselves as we are: sometimes we don’t want to, sometimes we just can’t for mental or moral purpose or sometimes because we feel completely discourage, even before starting.
Well let’s be honest: lot of people when facing such a challenge might be tempt to hide under our bedsheets, and hope it will eventually go away. Why should we even start using our energy to put our climbing shoes? Is it worth it? Is the view that amazing at the mountain top? We’re not all Marvin Gaye right? The truth is, the view totally worth the price and the effort. But I had to find mines of compassion within me to understand that I didn’t let me down when I felt that underwhelmed by the task I had to do and because I didn’t know where to start.
What I didn’t know then, was that because I was questioning myself about this, I was already putting those gears shoes and work on myself gently. And although I was still really deep down in a blurry weather, I had done the most hardest part, starting it.
And one day, I found the amazing artist Adam J. Kurtz who seams to have similar issues than I. (By the way I really encourage you to look at what he’s doing, it’s really cool and helpful, I’m a huge fan of his work). In one e-learning platform, he was offering a workshop with few exercises to help us deal with emotions and various related topics. I especially reckon the exercice below, which truly helped me to visualise better that unconscious Everesty-mass that I had done of my issues.
- Start by find a nice peaceful place where you will not be distributed. Put your mobile phone on « plane mode » too, so you’re definitely quiet.
- Take a piece of paper A4 size (or US letter size), point is it has to be bigger than a tiny sticky note notepad.
- Take a sharpie or a think black marker pen.
- Write your issue on the piece of paper (for example, wearing those famous climbing-shoes to tackle your Everest Mount you’ve done of your issue).
- Now get crazy and scribble that piece of paper until there’s no more white anywhere, so that all your negative emotions of fear, frustration, anxiety that are within yourself when you face that problem are starting to melt down.
- It feels good right?
- Where you can’t see anymore white piece of paper or when you feel you realised those bad emotions, start tear that piece of paper into tiny mini pieces.
- Smaller than that, please.
- Dosen’t it feels wonderfully childish – in a good way?
- Look at all those tiny mini pieces of paper that represent your issue and now start to somehow re-make your piece of paper, as it would be a puzzle.
- Do you start to understand?
All those tiny pieces of paper are crucial to create that piece of paper. Symbolically it’s all those steps you need to tackle your issue or finally achieve your goal. Just it’s in small pieces, as it would be tiny steps. Spoiler alerte 🚨: depending of your goal, this will not be resolved from a day to the next. Thus, if you need to have a short term outcome, go to your kitchen and start baking that famous cookies receipt everyone is mad about. It will fulfil your need of quick break out and on top make people (and yourself) happy because it’s delicious.
So now that you have done this very simple – but very fun – exercise, start to think to the different steps you need to tackle your goal. To some of you, this will be very easy, for other it might not be, and again, that’s more than fine. Fact is, I have another exercise to help you breaking your issue into tangible steps. The Golf-player technique!
Indeed, it seams that Golfers do visualise their goal starting from the end to the start. With that the can intellectualise better what they need to do to smash the ball to the hole in less steps than possible So if you transcript this technique to you, it makes the finish line a tangible and measurable goal and the necessary steps to smash the ball, the one you need to be successful, from the finish line to presently, as you are reading me.
Is this still blurry? Visualise yourself in 6 month from now. Where will you be in relation to the issue you are tackling? What would you have achieve already so that your « on time » in let’s say 1 year from now, where stand your finish line? What would you have still to do? And if we break this 3 month earlier, where would you be? Do you start to shape this out? Here’s a graphic I’ve made just for you to help you, because when I read first about this, I was pretty confused, and needed some welcoming visualisation.
Now, if the work you’d like to do is about you, and you feel you be learning all your life through, that’s absolutely right. That’s the beauty of life, it richness, our learning curve, our ability to grow and mature. But it means, your objectif is not precise enough. Remind yourself about the previous exercise. Did you wrote « me » on the paper? If this is the truth, please accept my sincere congratulations because it’s pretty courageous. But then understand that you need to see « you » as a bigger picture and create one piece of paper for each steps you might need to tackle your entire « you ».
Still doubting? Maybe you want to work on:
- Your personal values?
- Your self estime?
- Your public speaking anxiety?
- Your willingness to do some sport (but which one, how?)
- Your issues with your management?
All of those are concrete, tangible, measurable objectives. They are understandable by you, easy to explain to someone else, it’s simpler because otherwise your brain might just go back into « Mountain » mode, underwhelmed by your goal.
Indeed, that’s the key: make your brain fearless, or at least less anxious because know you’ve got a plan. If you don’t know how to explain your personal goal, it will remain blurry and you will not tackle it. You will hesitate on the shoes to put, the outfit to choose or the gear to take because there would be too much uncertainty. Go back to simplicity and God knows it’s not easy! Often, also, our emotions are in the mix and play a key role in our ability to understand what we should do. We not often realise it. Hence, if I made you elapse earlier using Adam’s exercice, it was to melt and unstick those emotions that where not helping you solving your issues. And don’t think it was easy for me: I was in the exact same situation. I felt lost in a blurry moody place where I couldn’t understand what was facts and what was feelings. By using those exact same techniques, I could gently see the sun coming back, inhale, exhale, and finally put my energy on the right thing, with an understandable finish line that my brain could finally understand. 🤩