Focus on the task at hand

Years ago, when my kids were little, we took a trip to Florida to visit some relatives and while we were there one of the things we did was watch the Disney movie, Finding Nemo. Now I’ll be the first to admit I am kind of a buzz kill when it comes to Disney movies- I really do not care for them. (I know, there must be something wrong with me.) But there was one scene that stuck with me all these years, and maybe you remember it to.

It is funny where you can find profound wisdom if you keep your eyes and ears open to it. When Marlin- the main character whose mission is to find Nemo, his son, who was fishknapped- starts to stress out and lose hope, his friend Dori has some great advice. “Just keep swimming.” I love that line, and I have used it as a personal motto ever since.

To often we get caught up in the imensity of what we are involved in. Whether it is a big project at work, raising our kids or looking for the next step in our career, there are a multitude of steps and side projects and duties and tasks. If we try to focus on the entirety of it we can easily become overwhelmed.

But we don’t have to. We just need to keep swimming.

Every project, no matter how big and intimidating, is made up of many smaller pieces. So when I start to get overwhelmed by one I take a step back and jot down the next few steps. (Sometimes literally in a notebook, sometimes just mentally while taking a deep breath). Then I tell myself that all I need to do is take the next step. That is it. I don’t have to worry about the end goal, other people’s contributions, how the project will be received or even whether it will succeed or fail. I just have to deal with what is next.

Invariably what is next is much easier to deal with than the project as a whole, and so I take that step, and then the next, and the next. That goofy fish from the cartoon movie that I didn’t really like shared the wisdom of the ages with me and anyone else who was listening. All we ever have to do is just keep swimming.

So the next time your job search, home renovation project or work project starts to stress you out, try to remember. You do not need to make a giant leap, you only need to take the next step.