Segmenting: My Strategy for the Long Haul

Feb 22, 2021

In a recent pre-(online) class chitchat, my co-host Ana Gutierrez held up a small Hershey’s chocolate nugget. I was all, “WHAT IS THIS DELICIOUSNESS??” and she said, “I have a quarter of this chocolate bar as we finish each fourth of class.” My first thought in response: “How do I load my Together Tray up with those?”

But my second thought was around this concept I’m going to call Segmenting. Or, how we get through activities or events that may feel long, arduous, and/or tiring. LIKE OUR ENTIRE LIVES RIGHT NOW, and especially February for me. Maybe there is an official psychological term for it (Anne Lamont called it Bird by Bird), but I’ve realized I use Segmenting all the time. Here are some examples from the past twenty years.

  • Somewhere in the vicinity of 2004. . . It is a five-week summer training institute, Maia, and you’re living in a dorm with 1000 stressed out new teachers. You need a fun dinner with friends each week.
  • During many an Olympic distance triathlon. . .Okay, after each five miles of this 26-mile ride, eat 2 blocks of your Clif Bar Chew. Helps pass the time. Snap. 26 miles on the bike done. Now go run that 10K.
  • While teaching hundreds of Together Trainings. . . Four big sections to a class. Text a friend at each break for a quick chat. Boom, 9 hours of teaching done.
  • When thinking of the next 7 weeks. . . Make it until March, Maia, when you’ll have a road trip with your kids to a place with warm weather. Go week by week.
  • During a swim in the county pool. . . I don’t feel like going 1400 meters today. I’m tired, I’m grumpy. Okay, just do 400 m. Hydrate. Now another 400 m. Rinse and repeat.
  • When the time between 4 PM – 10 PM as a solo parent of two kids feels never-ending. . . Reminder, break it into chunks. Dinner. (Hide and take a break). Clean up. (Call a friend quickly). Screen time. (Do a puzzle). Read Harry Potter aloud. And so on.

Segmented 1400M Swim

To be clear, I ENJOY all of the activities above. A lot. Teaching, races, and kids; love ‘em all. But some days just feel like a LOT. Hence, Segmenting Saves the Day (or night!) for me each time. Here’s to bite-sizing it and making big things small!

Do you find yourself segmenting? When? Do you add rewards, a la Ana’s chocolate bar?