Chopping a Tree Down (Letters to Myself)

A letter, dated 10th June, 2017, at 6 in the morning. About taking on big tasks and working on them bit by bit.

Banner: Letters to Myself - Vaibhav Gupta

Hi Vaibhav,

It’s been forever. In my last letter to you on 17th April, I talked about being more committed to your fitness goals.

A lot has changed since then. You relapsed into ugly eating quickly afterwards. We turned 25.  You went to the Toastmasters district conference and you came back inspired. Meal preparations began, and you found it much easier to eat healthy. As last night showed, you even reduced your appetite by a small bit. Great job!

This time around, we need to talk about chopping down a gigantic tree.

There are a lot of herculean tasks in your life right now. As you fully embrace adulthood, we have found that your excellence in handling small and quick tasks has become only an above-average skill. You see true excellence from mediocre people around you – the ones who accomplish big things because they have the one thing you don’t – persistence.

They chop the tree down stroke by stroke, while only you harvest crops. You’re great at harvesting, but ultimately, without the field being cleared of trees, your farm won’t grow. Isn’t that a terrific metaphor?

Let’s talk about your trees – eating right, novelling, office work, fitness, speaking skills. You’ve got a forest of ambition in your hands. Like every muppet, you hope to accomplish great things.

And you cut one down.

At work, you committed to scrubbing a 41 chapter book for a mind-numbing task by yourself. Are you crazy? And yet here we are, four days before the deadline, and you have only 2 chapters left. You’ve almost handled that big thing. You’ll finish for sure.

Is this the first time we’ve handled a task that required months of effort? Well, no, we went through college. And we did defeat depression last year with science and persistence. Backs against the wall, you thrive, otherwise you don’t.

Yet, you’ve been a trooper here.

You didn’t need to do it all yourself, but being committed, you did it. You found a way to win, which makes you a winner. Shall we move on to the next tree?

I want you to keep working on your meal preparation every Sunday. Learn lessons from the mistakes you make throughout each week, and improve the next. We have the lessons from this first week already, and I want to see you have a much better second one. We have never been this primed to be fit ever before. DO NOT LET THIS GO!

Meanwhile, make more time to write. You’re doing a decent job of journalling and of documenting your nutrition on Instagram. Keep the blog alive, and try to write everyday. You’re doing a good job – even I recognize that now (because you beat that sensibility into me during depression recovery).

I’ll speak to you again soon.