One step at a time
April 7, 2014
by Jenni Sebora

I am a runner – a runner of kids, but also a runner by exercise.

I believe this started for me, when I was younger, out of necessity. I was always, and am still, one of the shortest in my family, and among my friends and colleagues. I had to run to keep up. I had to take two steps to my friends’ one step to continue in stride.

So, really, I have been running since I was a toddler.

Naturally, I guess, I then took up running for competition; road races, cross country, and track and field. I ran during elementary track and field days, and in junior high, high school, and college, as well as road races.

Well, now I just do it for fun. However; the older I get, the less time I have, and the harder it is to find time to run and to do it for “fun.”

Now, when I hit the road for a longer “fun” run, I break the run into more mentally-manageable races. It is still the same distance, but breaking it down into small attainable goals, while ultimately running the full distance, helps me achieve the large goal more easily.

It is a wonder what a mind can do. We just have to trick it sometimes.

Actually, when I ran races in high school and college, I used this strategy, as well, especially if at a time in a race I was feeling more dogged.

I would set short goals. “Run from that tree to this tree.” I could achieve that, and it would help me through the part that I was struggling with.

I have a large lawn to mow. When I get on the lawnmower and look over the yard, I think, “This is going to take me a awhile.”

But, I break the yard up into smaller segments. It seems much more manageable, and I usually change it up each time I go out to mow to add some variety.

I know, don’t get carried away with the fun, but then, before I know it, I have mowed half my lawn, then two-thirds, and then all of it.

This strategy actually works really well with any large goal that seems difficult to obtain for adults, as well as for children – especially for children.

Like when a child comes home from school and states, “I have so much homework to do. I will never get it done.”

Or, so it seems. Start with one subject; possibly the easiest assignment, or if you are like me, start with the hardest. Get it out of the way, and then it is easier going from there.

But, everyone works differently. Maybe starting with the shortest, easiest assignment helps lend the way to the processing of, “I have one done. I can move on.”

For children especially, things can get overwhelming. Breaking the large goal or activity into smaller attainable steps is more manageable. Setting smaller goals within the larger allows the child to achieve smaller successes, and to be more easily ready then to move on to the next step.

It is hard to even start a task when it seems overwhelming, too long, and unobtainable. By breaking the activity into smaller, more manageable steps, it is easier to begin the task.

I believe that is why some children don’t even start certain tasks; they feel defeat from the beginning. They try and find the end, and it seems too long and difficult. They think, “Why even try? I will never get this paper done.”

It seems daunting – a five-page paper. Help your child break the process up. Help them with ideas and the webbing of ideas. Do your introduction. One page at a time. The conclusion. The paper is done. The race is over. And it feels good.

Kids, especially, need to feel successes along the way. It does not mean that they won’t run into obstacles, but it sure helps when that big daunting task does not seem so big or so daunting.

One step at a time – physically and mentally. It works.

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