Breaking down your problem

A 4,800-word essay seems like a huge challenge to complete within less than 2 weeks.

A construction project’s timeline is usually measured in years, seldom months.

Likewise, hiking up a mountain may seem too hard. Especially if you seldom go for long walks and hikes.

But as with all other problems, you don’t go from zero to completion all at once.

A 4,800-word essay seems more manageable when you realise that it’s made up of a series of 300 to 400-word segments.

And if you just focus on the individual building components along the way, you can even build a huge cathedral.

Similarly, you can rest at various points as you hike up the mountain. You don’t need to complete the entire walk at one go.

While I was a student, sometimes Math feels like a really hard subject to understand. Even when I could solve questions, it didn’t felt like I truly understood what I was doing.

After some years of being a Math tutor, I realised that most of the time, students are stuck not because they don’t know anything. Usually, it’s because they are fixated on thinking about the final answer that they forgot to take the first step in solving the problem – which is to break down the problem. No matter how complex, you would have to break the problem into smaller segments until you can write your first equation or expression.

Even though whatever problems you might be facing now might seem insurmountable, remember that problems can usually be broken down into smaller segments.

The past few months might not be a great start to 2020. This challenging time might have exposed many problems in our lives. And not just in our personal lives, but in our societies as well. Whether it’s the mainstream media or social media, you can see examples of the ugliness of human societies everywhere. (Yes, there are glimmers of hope here and there as well – with unprecedented displays of generosity being highlighted too.)

Whatever the problem, the most important step is to break it down. The smaller the segments you can break down the problem into, the easier it will be for you to start. As always, the first step might always be the hardest, but it should get better over time.


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