A few of you might be aware of my love for the ocean and the surf. I like to get out whenever I can as it is one of the few things that I do where I can completely relax and clear my mind. I thought I would share a little insight I had when I went out for a paddle on Saturday. It isn't anything profound, rather a practical example of the power of chunking (breaking a large task or goal into smaller, more mangeable tasks) that I applied when I went for my paddle.
It was a stinking hot day here at 42 degrees Celcius, so I thought I would go to the beach and take one of the paddle boards out from the surf club to get wet. Normally I would have gone surfing, but there were no waves so I took the paddle board. The water was cold and beautifully calm, so I thought that I would do something that I hadn't done before and attemp to paddle from Merewether to Bar Beach. For those of you that are not familiar with this beach (see photo above - Merewether is this end next to the pool, and Bar Beach is the other end at the cliff) the distance between the two beaches is about 2km. This is not a big distance to do on a paddle board by any means (the surf lifesaving competitors clock up heaps more and at a much faster pace than I do), but it was something I hadn't done before so it was a bit of a challenge for me.
About halfway there, I found myself thinking about cutting back the trip length, partly for fear that I might not make it back but mostly because I knew it was going to hurt and be tough to complete. I set myself a slightly less challenging mark, but as I reached it I knew that I would feel that I had quit. In fact, my first 'new' mark was about half the original journey. As I reached the new mark, I thought I would just go a little further, about 3/4 of the original intended journey. My shoulders were starting to burn by now, and my neck was getting sore. I sat up on the board thinking I was going to turn and start back, but I looked down to Bar Beach and really felt a sense of the disappointment I would feel if I didn't really give it a go to go the whole way. I had about 500m to go and with my burning shoulders and stiff neck, I knew it was going to be tough to make it all the way back if I did go on. I knew what my goal was - to make it to Bar Beach AND make it all the way back, but at that moment it just seemed to be a bit overwhelming. I was thinking about the pain I was going to go through to get to the end - the goal seemed a long way off. So, I thought about our goalsetting techniques, and I chunked it down. I said to myself, do 100 paddles and then sit up and have a rest (even that seemed a lot by this stage - I am not the fittest paddler around). So I counted it in 10's. 100 seemed a lot, but I knew I could easily do 10 paddles, and I just kept doing 10's..soon I hit the 100. I had about 400m to go, so I notched it up to 200 paddles. I soon hit 200, so I had a quick rest and did another 200. I was there!
Now, as I said, this is not an outstanding feat by any means - plenty of people swim this beach every day. But, for me, I was proud of the fact that I stuck with it, and that the chunking technique had worked so well for such a simple goal. I didn't quit when it started becoming a bit tough, I kept moving, kept making that little bit of progress and evenutally I got there... I had a smile on my face. Except, now I had to paddle back. As I mentioned, it was 42 degrees, that really made walking any of the way back out of the question. I felt like I had removed about 8 layers of skin from the soles of my feet just walking down the beach to the water, let alone walking any substantial distance back.
So, I chunked it down again.. I pushed it up to 300 paddles (again counting in 10's). 6-7 of these and I would be home. I felt like the return leg flew by.. I just kept my head down and kept counting to 10.. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10, - 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, 20 etc... I didn't focus on how hard it was going to be, or how sore my arms were going to be, or how far off the goal was. I just kept going. When I got back, I was buggared, but I was stoked! I stumbled out of the water, raced up the beach (and felt like I scorched the remaining skin off my feet). I didn't feel sore at all - I was pumped that I had just achieved a challenging little personal goal using the techniques we have been discussing.
Have a think about how you can chunk any goals or challenges that you are currently facing into smaller more manageable pieces. Focus on the completion of those more manageable pieces, and you will make awesome progress. Momentum is created through persistant movement towards your goal... before you know it, you will have achieved it.
Have an awesome week guys, HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY!!!
PS - my shoulder muscles are quite sore today.