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We all know the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. About how it was distracted and lazy and didn’t finish the race because he wasn’t paying attention. What if I told you that fable still works today but we need to look at it differently.

The Hare wasn’t lazy.
The Hare wasn’t bragging about how fast they are.
The Hare wasn’t really in competition with the Tortoise.

Millennials talk about burn out and how that affects us in our jobs, about how we take on too much and never stop to listen and learn. But we’ve got something previous generations don’t have.

Data overload. We have SO MANY choices to pick from, it’s not about doing the same job your parents did. You can do whatever you want. And you try a little of everything.

And then you realize you’re exhausted. You see other people making progress on their journeys and getting further ahead than you and you think it’s all futile and you take a break. You’re not going to get any further, so why try?

And you take your little nap.

When you wake up you realize that your goals are still so far away and who cares who wins. And you chase them until you cross the finish line only to be reminded by some well-meaning old bat that “So and so finished that a long time ago”.

Well Good for them. But you’re not competing with them. But we can learn from them.

The tortoise has the advantage of not stopping during the selection and as such makes it further. The hare has a variety of experiences instead of just going along the expected path. But it’s that break that puts the hare behind. Sure we can try all the things, but we have to be consistent.

I love lists. They make sense of all the things I have to do, like after an accident and filling out the reports for insurance companies and the like. I have roughly ten things to do, so as long as I do two of them a day I get it done in a week. And I don’t feel like I’m scrambling trying to remember what I have left to do. And if you get extra things done, and you’re done early. Congrats, it’s no longer hanging over your head.

Sometimes it is about just keep going.

The tortoise has the advantage if we stop, but what happens when we just start doing things. Little by little, even if we have to step back from the whole circus because we took on too much.

The only cleaning task I have to do every day is to make my bed. It’s the start of my day and when I consider myself fully awake enough to take on the day. Any other cleaning I get done is a pat on the back. Put all the trash in the trash can, gold star.  The little things add up even when I don’t see the difference. But is cleaning my room a task? Only on laundry day when folding and putting everything away takes time.

The popular advice to just do a little at a time works. Housewives have been asked how to keep your home spotless, and they generally respond with tasks that take two minutes or less just need to be done. There’s no way around it. Demir and Carey over at Lifehack Bootcamp, regularly (I get this particular email at least once a year) talk about breaking your tasks into five minutes. If something looks too big, make it small. Make it about as small as you can. Instead of looking at the whole site and think ‘something needs to change’. Make it small. ‘Tweak the header until I like it’ works. Leave it for a day and see if it grows on you. It’s important to see what happens when you just keep chiseling away at the list. It might get longer but those highlights of what’s done do too.

Dory tells us to just keep swimming, one little bit at a time. Sometimes it’s closer to just floating along, but it’s about the journey. We can see everything we want to if we just break it down and know our limits. Take your time and enjoy the ride. You’ll get there when you get there.

-J Joy

The Tortoise and the Burned Out Hare
The Race, what we make it

p.s. enjoy my terrible cartoon

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