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Rule 12: Gathering Your Tools is Half the Job

My husband, the carpenter, says when starting a big task, “Gathering your tools is half the job.” I never really thought about that until more recently when it occurred to me that it applies to almost any activity.

In other words, preparation is half the job. So often, I think, we are held back from accomplishing something because we are either overwhelmed by the preparation or bored by it. Either way we don't want to do it. How many times have you gotten started on a task and then said to yourself, “That wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.” Many times we avoid not because we don't want to do the job, but because we don't want to do the preparation.

Gathering Your Tools is Half the Job Once we are engaged in the task we often are able to focus in a mindful way. For instance, I enjoy gardening and so it doesn't seem like work. However, getting everything together is not something I enjoy so it seems like a chore.

Mindfulness is not just about focusing when we enjoy something, but is the ability to be in the present moment even when we don't enjoy it. For instance, what gets in my way when I am gathering my tools to garden? My thinking: “I really don't want to spend all that time in the garage getting the tools that I need.” It doesn't matter that it might only take mere minutes.

We often think of the preparation stage as something that gets in our way of doing the actual job. Instead, if we think of it as part of the job itself, and approach it mindfully, we can feel we accomplished something once we have prepared everything we need. When I approach the preparation stage in the same way I approach the gardening, then I'm more likely to enjoy the entire activity.

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Dr. Monica Frank

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