One constant in life is that there will always be challenges. Some big. Some small. Either way, there are going to be times in life when it seems like the problems are adding up faster than you can fix them. The “snowball” effect can bury even the strongest people. One of the most important things to keep in mind when the world is falling on your head is that this too shall pass. Maintaining your composure is only part of the solution. Here are some things to keep in mind when the challenges are stacking up faster than you can address them:
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One concept I have heard repeated in different self-development books written by everyone from former Navy SEALs to professional rock climbers is the idea of “getting back to your 3-foot world.” The idea is that when you are looking at the big picture you are ignoring the problems right in your face. you need to address the issues that affect you immediately before you start to worry about the problems down the road. It’s a mentality of prioritization that keeps you focused on right now. Think about the rock climbing metaphor: if you are on the side of a rock face worrying about the ledge 30 feet above your head, how can you see the handhold 3 feet from your head? No matter how big the mountain, take it 3 feet at a time.
Sometimes the best thing you can do when faced with an ever-growing pile of problems is to just take a step back. I’m not talking about running away. I’m talking about stepping back, keeping your eyes on the issues, and taking a second to process them. I do this at least once a day. Whether it is taking a few minutes to just read and relax my brain, or just simply getting up from my desk and walking away. Unless you are battling a literal raging inferno of a fire, taking 5 minutes to clear your head is only going to help.
This is one that I struggled with for years. There are some of us who take entirely too much responsibility on ourselves. If you carry the weight of the world around, don’t be surprised when it gets too heavy to handle. Delegation is tough for some of us. We see the projects that we are working on as our “babies”. You have to really trust someone to let them care for your baby. Delegation is as much of a skill as actually doing the work itself. You have to pick the right person for the right job and trust them to get it done. Micro-managing is just as counter-productive as not delegating in the first place.
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Find an Expert
Believe it or not, no matter how good you think you are at your job out there in the world somewhere is someone who is better. Or at least as good. There are countless communities of professionals out there that you can reach out to for advice. Again, it’s something I do almost every day. I have friends of mine that work for competitors who I will call for advice, and vice-versa. It’s what makes a company part of an industry. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. If two heads are better than one, imagine an entire community of people who do what you do.
Most importantly, don’t be Chicken Little. If an acorn falls on your head, don’t assume the sky is falling. You need to approach your problems realistically. Unless you are literally saving lives, don’t approach every problem like it is life or death. One of the most important things you can do is “weigh” the issues that you are facing. Give each situation a value, and address them accordingly. You’ll start to see that when you take care of the little things, the big things work themselves out.