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5 Tactics to Help You Get Through Hard Days

20 June 2018

Like most people, I occasionally struggle, and have bad days. For example: recently, an insurance agent told me that adding my 18-year-old daughter to our auto policy would cost an additional $8,000 annually. This was after I had explained that she will be in college 1,000 miles away – and without a vehicle. Or, I find myself overbooked or overscheduled, my team needs my input to move forward on a day when I have very limited time to give them, or a client comes to me with an issue requiring immediate attention.

When I get overwhelmed, I can catastrophize things, making them out, in the moment, to be worse than they really are.

To counteract this, I’ve developed a few tactics to put things back into perspective – all of them ideas I’ve either read or borrowed. When I coach entrepreneurial clients in the middle of a fire, I try to walk them through the 5 steps below, which have helped me on my hard days:

1. Stop, Breathe! – do not act on an immediate impulse – breathe, count to 10. Do this more than once, if necessary.

2. Isolate Yourself – get away from yourself and the problem for a few minutes. Leave it alone until you’ve calmed down.

3. Self-Talk – while isolated, ask yourself questions to distance yourself from the immediacy of your feelings about the issue facing you, such as:

a. How would a calm, well-balanced, rational, accomplished and successful entrepreneur address this situation? (Avoid using “I” in this question.)

b. If you saw yourself in a movie in your head, acting as you would like to in addressing this issue, what would that look like?

4. Write it Down – when you’ve settled down, write out a plan to deal with the issue calmly and rationally.

5. Focus on the Future – how will you feel about this issue two weeks down the road? In a month? In the next quarter? A year from now?

For me, it’s a question of perspective. What is a big deal in the course of a single day is a small blip in a week, 30 days, 60 days later, and often disappears from the radar altogether.

Take a moment to watch a sunset. Look at our ancient live oak trees – which have outlasted generations of human beings, and will outlast more. Take a walk, look at the sky. It’s a big world, with a long timeline.