When I have a bunch of chores, I tend to save the hardest stuff for last.
I think there’s probably an argument—a good one—for knocking out the more-challenging stuff first. But I’m a world-class procrastinator. One of the best of all time.
And if anyone knows how to push off challenging tasks for later, it’s me.
Finance coach and get-out-of-debt proponent Dave Ramsey preaches a debt-elimination method he calls the Debt Snowball Plan.
It calls for listing all of your debts from smallest to largest, making only minimum payments on all of them, except the smallest one. On the smallest one you put everything you can into paying it off.
When that goes away, you take all of that same money budgeted for debt elimination and you apply it to the second-smallest debt. The amount of money each month dedicated to paying off debt “snowballs” until your debt is completely eliminated.
Ramsey is coaching people to knock out the easiest stuff first. To taste the small wins. And to feel the motivation to tackle the bigger challenges and win those, too.
Whatever problems you’re facing in your life are probably the most-difficult for you to overcome.
Any problems you had which didn’t require a lot of time, money or effort to solve, have most likely already been solved.
What’s left is the really hard stuff.
One of my favorite writers and thinkers—Seth Godin—wrote about this a few days ago in his “The problems you’ve got left…” post.
Godin writes about business. About marketing principles. I work in marketing so I try to read him every day. But he has a knack for writing things that cross over into other aspects of the human experience as well. I think he’s a genius.
In this post, Godin is asking us to evaluate the remaining problems, challenges, obstacles in our lives at work.
I think we can just as easily apply this to our lives at home.
He wrote this:
“The problems you’ve got left are probably the difficult ones.
“We’d all like to find discount answers to our problems. Organizations, governments and individuals prefer to find the solution that’s guaranteed to work, takes little time and even less effort.
“Of course, the problems that lend themselves to bargain solutions have already been solved.
“What we’re left with are the problems that will take ridiculous amounts of effort, untold resources and the bravery to attempt something that might not work.
“Knowing this before you start will help you allocate the right resources… or choose not to start at all—this problem, the one that won’t be solved in a hurry, might not be worth the effort it’s going to take. If it is, then pay up.”
I immediately started to evaluate my “problems.”
Which ones lend themselves to bargain solutions?
There are some that do. Facets of my life that can legitimately improve if I’m only willing to make a few small, disciplined changes to my schedule, to my work ethic, to my routine.
The big problems are big.
They require big ideas. Big effort. Big solutions.
But in the meantime, maybe we can start building some momentum by knocking out some of the simpler ailments that impact our lives.
For most of us, the biggest obstacle to getting started is inertia.
People don’t think enough about it. I know I don’t. But it’s important. And it’s real.
Inertia is the resistance of an object to any change in its state of motion. You know. Isaac Newton shit.
It means that objects at rest tend to stay at rest. That’s the bad news.
Because it’s really hard to get moving sometimes.
But inertia can be our friend, too. Because the same principle applies to objects already in motion. They tend to stay in motion.
Our lives, I think, work the same way. When we’re stuck in ruts… financially, spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally… we tend to stay stuck in the rut.
Until something—hopefully our will—forces us to do things differently.
And that’s when real change happens. A snowball effect.
Building problem-solving momentum, feeling the joys of those small wins, and using inertia as a tool rather than a hindrance.
I don’t know if I’m ever going to achieve the life mastery skills I want to feel in control of all the important parts of my life.
But I know that I have big problems.
And I have small problems.
Seems extra foolish to not at least get those small ones marked off the list.
Because I don’t believe life should be a list of chores.
I believe it should be a list of adventures.
Of hopes and dreams.
What do I want to do today?
I think that’s what happiness looks like. But there are still things that must be done.
Responsibilities. Obligations. People who need us.
I really want to play. And I intend to. Perhaps more this year than I have in a very long time.
But there are some things which require my attention first.
And it’s time to get down to business.