We’ve had a lot of snow in the Northeast this winter. The storms have come close together, and some have been mixed with sleet and ice. Earlier this week, I noticed that the snow at the end of my driveway was creeping inward, to the point where it was difficult to drive in. Then it snowed again – twice in two days. Despite my shoveling, the pile grew every time the snowplow went by. The snow crept in further to the point where I had to take drastic action.
I tried to shovel it out, but it was frozen. It would not budge.
I knew I had to get out the ice chopper and really hack away at it. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. And I kicked myself for not fully clearing the snow each time it came down. By waiting, I had a much bigger problem on my hands.
As I worked, I thought about how life is often like the snow at the end of the driveway. Little things happen; we don't reconcile our checkbook, we have a small misunderstanding with someone, or we eat more than we should. Small things; rather unimportant things. And yet, each time the “plow comes by”, the small thing becomes bigger. Eventually, it feels insurmountable. Frozen solid.
3 Tips for Preventing Bigger Problems
Here are some things I could have done to prevent my snow pile problem.
Go out each time it snows
Pay attention to those little things, and commit to tackling them as they come up. I didn’t do that at the beginning of the winter. As Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” He wasn’t kidding. My sore arms are testimony to that truth.
Make the extra effort
When I did shovel the snow, I threw it as far as I could. It landed in a pile right next to the driveway. The pile grew so high that the snow had nowhere to go when the plow came. Shoveling the top of the pile down to a manageable height could have prevented the problem. I didn’t do that because I was tired and in a hurry. Extra effort almost always pays off, whether doing a task, or relating with another person. Giving more is worth it.
Shovel up the street so less snow lands in the driveway. Make sure the snow on the far side of the driveway is low enough to give the new snow a place to go. Margin allows for the unexpected and gives us time to tackle the small things.
Sometimes we end up with a pile in the driveway despite our efforts. It snows in the night, or we aren’t home. The pile grows to the point where it feels impossible to deal with. No matter how big it is, we can deal with the pile of snow. It just takes time and effort.
4 Ways to Remove a Big Snow Pile
Come at it from different angles
I shoveled the top off, chipped at the ice, and dug underneath. I even found a strong icy patch in the middle and stood on it so I could use more leverage on the top. When our life situation gets bigger, we need to attack it from as many angles as possible too. It is often a combination of methods that yields the greatest gains.
Don’t expect to remove it all at once
You may be fortunate to be able to eliminate your problem pretty quickly. I recently cleaned and organized my office, a task that was long overdue. It took me several hours, but I did get it done in one day. Other situations may take longer to resolve. Chip away at them and don’t get discouraged. Focus on what you have done, rather than what remains.
Clear one spot well
With an icy driveway, if you can get one spot down to the bare pavement, the sun will then begin to melt the area around that spot and make it easier to chop up. The same is true with our lives. If we get one spot really moving, the momentum will help us continue the clean-up.
Have faith in the outcome
As you continue to work, know that you will eventually eliminate your snow pile. Even if you can’t do it alone, the sun will help by melting it. Focus on the effort, and let the outcome take care of itself.
My snow pile isn’t gone yet. I did widen my driveway by at least a foot, shaved almost two feet off the top, and have hopefully prevented it from getting larger during the next snow. Here’s a picture of my driveway today.
I’m going back out tomorrow to see what more I can clear.
Question: How have you dealt with the little things in your life? What do you do to prevent little things from becoming big things? Please share with everyone by leaving a comment here.