My first summer at West Point was pretty ugly. It’s called “Beast Barracks” for a reason. Twelve hundred (1,200) of my brothers and sisters were suddenly in a new world where we were adjusting as fast as we could to a continually changing and growing number of things to learn. And, we were doing this while under the “helpful” supervision of senior cadets who would find catastrophic holes in seemingly every task we performed, letting us know about how far off the mark we were. The only way to survive events like this can be to take smaller steps when the going gets tough.
Exhausting isn’t the word. It was hard to get through some days. Focusing on the entire summer would have been too much and would have felt overwhelming. Some of the best advice I received wasn’t to look at the week, or even the day. Sometimes, it was a slow, painful go, and the best I could do was to look at the next 15 minutes—because that was as big of a chunk as I could mentally manage at that point.
Take smaller bites when the going gets exceptionally hard, say for instance, during a pandemic or sorting through the myriad of changes in going back to work. Focus only on what it takes to successfully navigate that piece; and then, focus on the bigger picture when your head and energy level are ready for it. It’s a great way to help yourself stay on track, without getting overwhelmed with the big picture.