When I was a teenager, one of my daily chores at home was to do the dishes. My family did not own a dishwasher and this was a time, age and culture when all meals were prepared from scratch and there was always a soup or salad with the meal. This equaled a LOT of dishes and pans and utensils to be washed by hand. I did not mind doing the dishes one bit– in fact, I loved getting lost in my teenager thoughts as I cleaned dish after dish. What I did not enjoy so much was that my mom kept adding another dirty pot or pile of dishes just as I was ready to finish and dry my pruned hands. I would get so frustrated with this unending parade of dirty dishes that the chore felt like a torturous challenge to my patience. I would complain: "Mom! Why don't you just give me everything that needs to be cleaned at once? Why do you need to keep adding and adding more stuff to clean?" Of course, I have conveniently forgotten her answer by now but what I do know today is that we all operate in different ways when life piles us up with tasks and "chores" that challenge our patience, our schedules and even our sanity.
So, how do react when you already have a lot on your plate and the least you want to do is address that pesky permanent item on your personal to-do list? How do you prefer to handle challenges? Are you a big-picture or a baby-step kind of person? There is no right or wrong answer - however, there is a better way to go about facing that challenge or task you might have been avoiding to some degree. And that better way is one that works for YOU. As you think of the challenges you have in your life right now, here are three easy steps to approach them and act without losing your sanity:
Step One: It may be temping for you to ignore that task that is weighing heavy on your shoulders; after all there is always a tomorrow, right? Yes there is, but as Buddha wisely said, “the trouble is, you think you have time.” So, the sooner you tackle on your challenge, the more time you will have to devise a plan for success and for adjustments to the plan if needed. So kick procrastination to the curve and actually decide to face your demons. Write out what that challenge is. If you are struggling with putting it into words, borrow this phrase and fill in the blanks: I am being challenged by_____ and this is weighing heavy on my shoulders because _____. Answer this with honesty and you are ready for the next step.
Step Two: Once you have defined that challenging task at hand, the next step is to think through it using your left brain. That is, logistically speaking, answer this: what do I need to do in order to get this task done? Brainstorm on all the angles and sub-steps needed in order to get that challenge off your plate and hence off your shoulders. Now comes the fun and last part – the third step.
Step Three: This is a two-in-one step but you will see why it goes hand-in-hand. So, once you have completed this challenge and it is no longer on your to-do list, how will you feel? And how will you celebrate? So first, decide what it is that completing this task will give you: will it be an emotional, mental, spiritual or physical reward? Or maybe all of them? You decide. And second, once you have obtained that reward, how will you celebrate your victory? See, it is important to celebrate your victories, big or small, because celebrations feed your soul, they attract more reasons to celebrate AND they propel you with much needed energy to face any amount of dirty dishes that may be coming your way.