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Facing Challenges in Life or Work
I have a friend who is going through a really rough time right now. I can relate to what she is experiencing as I have had similar experiences, myself. In watching her delicate balance of joy and sorrow, I have been reminded of a life and business tactic I discovered for myself years ago.
There are times when we find ourselves in the middle of a situation which seems overwhelming, a situation that feels like it just might be too great of a challenge. It may be a new job, a project at work, or a cross-country move, or perhaps going through a divorce or death of a spouse, parent, or child, or maybe you have taken on what feels like the greatest challenge of your life. It is during these times when I have evoked a fall-back plan or coping mechanism I call The Switchback Method.
You Probably Did This Too
When I was a kid, my family lived in a beautiful house in a sleepy, seemingly suburban, community set smack dab on the border of Orange and Los Angeles counties. We were surrounded by horses and every morning you could hear roosters crowing. It was a small rural haven in the middle of a very urban area. To get to our neighborhood, you had to climb a great hill. It is probably much smaller than I remember, but it seemed mountainous when I was a child. Though easy by car, it was dreadful to walk up, don’t even think about roller skating or skate boarding it, and to ride a bike up it? Impossible.
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But we, the kids, figured out a way to make it up the hill on our bicycles without ever stopping and having to walk those bikes. We used the switchback method. We would ride from one side of the road to the other, gaining only a few feet toward the top with each pass. It took a bit longer but we made it to the top – every time. And there was always a huge sense of accomplishment waiting there, even from such a silly little win.
It’s OK to take a Break
I learned to adapt this method for use when facing challenges in life or at work. When something seems insurmountable, I typically dig right in. I rarely have fear and have always felt that the sooner you take the plunge, the sooner you can get out and dry off. Here’s the deal though: sometimes the plunge scares the crap out of you or the water gets too cold. It’s ok to get out, or as I like to say, take the switchback route. When the grass looks greener on the other side, take a stroll for a bit, knowing all along you have to come back. The switchback allows you to take a breath, shake off fears, get encouragement from others, and regroup. It is NOT failure. It is knowing yourself and knowing when you need to take a break and when you can push to the edge.
Just like anything difficult, it isn’t going to be easy <– silly, I know. But so often, we forget that it is ok for something to be hard, it is ok to say we are struggling, it is ok to ask for help, it is ok to take a break and recover what may have been drained. Overwhelming is just that: Overwhelming. Two steps forward, one step back is still one step forward. And one step closer to achieving your goal, getting it done, and surviving a mess.
A switchback may just be the mini-break you need.