We’re an outdoor family. I ride my bike, my wife runs, we head to the beach regularly.

We take our kids on hikes and canoeing. When they get older we’ll get them rock climbing and paddling whitewater on the rivers.

So it’s probably not going to surprise you that in early August we took our kids up Mt Cheam. What may surprise you is that it’s 10km (6 miles) and has an elevation gain of 665m (2175ft) for a grade of 14%.

And my 3 year old hiked the whole thing carrying her water and food. Sure I helped her on some slippery bits and big steps, but she was not carried.

E after loosing a face battle with a chocolate chip cookie
E after loosing a face battle with a chocolate chip cookie

Seeing Others

This is the hardest hike we’ve taken her on but not by much and we hear a consistent thing as we hike and meet adults on the trail.

Oh wow, if that kid can do it so can I.

In February in the rain on a short local hike we came upon a group of women hiking (really this is more of a walk in the forest) and could hear 2 complaining about turning back because it was to hard.

Till we turned the corner and she was happily bouncing along in the rain (and filthy) giving out leaves. Their grumbles turned to:

Oh I should stop complaining, if that kid can do it I can do it.

I recognize that most adults aren’t in the same physical condition that my family is, but my kid is 3. She has little legs and that 4 hour Mt Cheam hike took us 8 hours.

The winning approach

So how do we get up the hikes anyway? How is it that we pass adults on the way?

  • We hike slow
  • We stop lots
  • We engage in lots of encouragement (like fuzzy peach rewards)
  • We have been doing smaller hikes for a while building up to the big ones

These adults have often sat at a desk all week. They don’t run or ride or swim multiple times a week.

They don’t have a recent history of hiking all over the mountains. They were not guides paid to take people in the mountains.

Then they bite off a huge hike and of course it’s hard.

Big Projects

Ah, now that you’ve seen the heading you can guess where I’m headed right? How do you deal with big projects, or projects that are more complex than you originally thought?

Do you just keep looking at the big picture and feel overwhelmed?

Of course now that would be stupid and you’re not stupid.

You may not really plan though which will leave your project stuck.

You need to start by breaking each main task down in to little bits. A theme build would include items like:

  • Get base theme from github
  • make sure WP_DEBUG is on
  • ….

It should go deeper than that though.

For a complex function write out the name of the function then inside it write 3 or 4 lines of what that function is supposed to do.

Then delete each line as you write the code to match the spec you just wrote.

For a particularly hard design problem, break out your favorite notebook and write out the goals that need to be accomplished. Rewrite out the user goals for the whole site and then how this piece should fit in.

Break whatever task you have down in to small enough bites that it starts to feel manageable.

Once it’s in small enough pieces, you can start taking each little step and get the project done.