Have you ever had one of those days when you’re feeling discouraged? Perhaps you’ve worked hard over a period of time and you just don’t see the progress. Or maybe things were going along just fine, then things started getting shaky, the next thing you knew it all fell apart…and now you’re back at square one.
Perhaps you’ve had one of those days when you were too anxious and fearful to do anything substantial, and you barely did the minimum to make it through the day. Maybe the anxiety comes from the fact that in order to achieve your dreams, you have to do things that you’ve never done before, or your dream is taking you to a place that you’ve never experienced. Or maybe it’s some sort of free-floating, nebulous fear. It isn’t enough to totally debilitate you but it’s certainly got you shackled.
Maybe you’ve had days where you know what you had to do but it was just so overwhelming. You didn’t know where—or how—to start. Perhaps the project/journey/task seemed too hard, too big, too much. Just thinking about it made you feel small, weak, and incapable.
When you’re having one of these kinds of days, you know you need to get yourself out of it. You know that staying in these states does not help you. They don’t make you feel good about yourself, they don’t energize you, and they don’t help you move forward.
The absolute worst thing you can do is to stay in these states.
But you don’t quite know what to do so you stay there, stuck, until something gets you out. But you never really get back to your full, triumphant stride. Instead, you sort of limp and hobble along.
What can you do to help yourself rather than relying on this hit-or-miss strategy?
The very best thing you can do is to ask—and answer!—the question “What can I do?”
Let’s say you are overwhelmed with the project of cleaning out a corner of one of your rooms so that you can have a clutter-free work space. Just thinking about it makes you want to go back to bed and pull the covers over your head! Instead, ask yourself what you can do on this project. Can you identify the easy things about this job? Can you then set the timer for 15 minutes and work on one of the easy things, such as tossing out all the junk mail or throwing away the things that are broken? If 15 minutes is too long, can you turn on your favorite song and work along to the beat (pop songs average 3 – 5 minutes)? Keep asking yourself “what can I do?” Follow through on doing it!
Same thing goes if you’re feeling anxious. What little thing can you do that flies under the radar of your anxiety, thus not triggering it or further enflaming it? Can you adapt the timer or favorite song technique and work on the periphery of the thing that’s causing anxiety? Sometimes there are thin edges and fragile protrusions that you can chip away at. They don’t amount to much when you look at them by themselves but over time they will—and do—add up! Flying under the radar like this helps you acclimate to the new place/skill/task and helps you see that there’s really nothing to be afraid of. Then you might be able to take bigger steps!
If you’ve hit a setback or you aren’t seeing progress and you’re wondering if you should throw in the towel…don’t do it! Don’t throw in that towel! Instead, ask yourself “What can I do?” This can be an opportunity to review what’s happened. Can you look at the journey/product/task from a different angle or perspective—such as from your customers’ point of view? Perhaps as you were working on the project, there was a tangent or offshoot that you noted but didn’t do anything about. Can you investigate that? Perhaps it’s a shortcut to where you’re trying to go!
There is always a little something that you can do. These little somethings add up to small bits. These small bits then pile up to make steps, which turn into progress and forward movement that you can really see!
Your homework today is to answer the question “What can I do?” Keep asking, keep answering, and keep following through!
You can do it, I know you can!
I’m so proud of you. You have an awesome can-do spirit!
Your Friend and Pep Pal,