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One Step at a Time

by Diana Patchett

Work life can be a sedentary undertaking, so a weekend retreat to the mountains sounded inviting; a great opportunity to stretch my legs after a winter of inactivity. Fitness doesn’t wear off completely after three months of hibernation, does it?

Carpark to Ketetahi Hut, 5km return; an easy afternoon undertaking under blue skies with just a light day pack. The small matter of an 800m change in altitude didn’t seem like an issue as we bounded into the forest. Up, up and away. We hadn’t even cleared the treeline before my lungs and legs started asking questions that my heart and head were having serious difficulty answering. How much further? I started to plan for a turnaround and admit defeat. What have I got myself into? The hut was but a speck in the distance, the whole thing just seemed insurmountable.

“What’s the rush?” my husband said, “Slow down, enjoy the walk. Just take it one step at a time.”

So I did, and it was fabulous.

Back in the carpark, basking in the glow of achievement, I wondered why I had doubted myself in the first place. Perhaps it is a symptom of this ‘new age’, where we spend so much of our day successfully multi-tasking, that when one endeavour proves a challenge, we are caught by surprise, and this can quickly manifest as anxiety and trepidation. We can be fixated on the end product, realise how much more there is still to go (particularly if we are yet to begin), and it can be downright scary – especially if there is no easy escape route or shortcut in sight.

Our students are faced with these sorts of encounters on a regular basis – the looming assignment deadline, the exam timetable, and the impending oral presentation – all seemingly due at the same time. As the lists pile up, simple tasks can start to appear as mountains, so it is important we equip our students with the necessary skills to manage these demanding times.

From their first days at school, our students learn to break down the overwhelming into the manageable. Dividing tasks into chunks, setting realistic timeframes for these to be achieved, leaving time for edits and polishes, and back-planning from the due date so that stress is alleviated. Their mountains are transformed into a collection of molehills, easy to navigate one step at a time.

By the time they are in Year 13 and standing at the base of their final climb – end-of-year exams and assessments – our students have a well rehearsed cache of skills and techniques to help them manage a workload that would challenge the best of us. Their eyes are on the summit, and despite aching muscles and burning lungs, the pinnacle of their Kristin journey is within their grasp. From the top, the view is remarkable and a just reward for their efforts.

This afternoon I had the honour of witnessing our graduating Class of 2014 prepare to embark on their next adventure. The lovely tradition of the Graduation Walk affords the school community an opportunity to farewell the class, and helps us to realise how quickly this time goes. As our graduating seniors took their first steps away from Kristin today there was a mix of apprehension and anticipation in the group.

To our graduates: Go well. We hope we have played our part and given each of you the confidence to believe in your abilities and tools you can rely on when the going might look tough.

Ko te hikoi tuatahi te timatanga o ia haere (one step is the start of each journey)

A life well lived is full of challenges, they are what make life’s journey an adventure worth having. Just take it one step at a time, and you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.