In medieval Germany, the gates to cities were closed and locked at nightfall. Those that had not yet returned were forced to spend the night outside the safety of the city walls, exposed to predators, thieves, and potential death. The fear of this was known as torschlusspanik; literally, “gate-shut-panic”.

In modern English, the word has evolved more existential connotations: it is the fear that time is running out, that life is passing one by. Call it a life crisis.

I’ve been thinking a lot about torschlusspanik. And, not for the first time, I have felt it too. I think everyone has felt it to some degree at one point or another.

But it is important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Life is a series of small pieces that form one whole.

The ancient Chinese adage “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” may have become a cliché, throwaway line – but that doesn’t make it any less true.

Sometimes it is better to break goals down into smaller, more manageable tasks than confront a large goal head-on.

Admittedly, I struggle with this myself and, confronted with a formidable task, resort to procrastination. But when you break things down, goals become more attainable.

I’ve briefly mentioned how I write before, but I am often overwhelmed by the idea of “perfection” that I avoid writing altogether. But this is never productive. So, instead, I break the task down: free writing, editing, and revision. Therefore, one large task becomes three smaller tasks.

This principle can be applied to any part of life, not just writing. It is good to have goals in life, but it is important to have an idea of how to achieve those goals, too.


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