During difficult times, it’s easy for people to forget how empowered they truly are. More often than not, you’ll hear someone lamenting about how unfair a situation is, how they are a victim of circumstance. The truth is, rare is the time when someone is left with no way to change their situation.
My dad used to say “Doing nothing is actually doing something.” He was right. Doing nothing means choosing not to make any change; to keep the status quo.
When worries pile up, it can be easy to forget we have choices. We can easily feel trapped in a no win situation. This is when it’s time to pull out pen and paper and write your way out of the corner of illusion you’ve put yourself in.
At the top of one sheet of paper write the words Needs Fixing. At the top of the second paper, write the words Needs Achieving.
Write down all the things that are truly problems beneath the heading Needs Fixing. These can be as simple as change the burnt out front porch light or as complex as find a new job.
On the second paper write down goals. These are things you would like to have. Include goals that are both easily attainable and more challenging. Set this second paper aside.
Sit down with that first sheet of paper. Look over everything you put down. Next, spend time on each line and consider how many options you have to solve those issues.
For changing the light bulb, you could do it yourself, or you could ask someone else to do it. Not only does this show you that you have multiple options, it can alert you to any other related issues. Perhaps you don’t have another light bulb which means you have to get one first. This could be on your list as well and once again you can consider all the ways to accomplish this. You could drive to a store and buy one. You could borrow one from a neighbor. You could order one online. I’m sure those reading this can think of additional options.
Continue down the list, being sure to write as many options as you can for each challenge. Include the practical and the impractical. Put down creative and crazy ideas that make you laugh. In reality, they may not be as crazy as you think.
When talking to a customer once, he explained that his company told him he could transfer out of the Bay Area or get a new job. His daughter was a second semester senior and not thrilled with the idea of switching schools. The customer explained that they talked to the family of her daughter’s best friend and the girl lived with them for the remainder of the school year.
“Of course we pay them for her room and board. She’s happy with the arrangement. It made our lives easier too.”
Not everyone would leave a kid behind while they moved to another state but the point is it was an option.
When you see the choices you have before you, in black and white, you often find a feeling of empowerment settling in. You realize you actually do have options. You aren’t helpless.
“I don’t like my job but in this tough economy, what choice do I have?”
Probably more than you think. Have you considered switching careers? Going back to school? Moving to another state where the job situation is better? Perhaps moving to another country? Joining the Peace Corps and going overseas? How about starting your own business?
Even if you end up talking yourself out of every option you put down, you will see that you are empowered. You are not helpless.
Run out of ideas? Have a think tank party. Invite friends over (people you trust) and sit around brainstorming. As Barbara Sher teaches in her seminars, there is great power in the networking of ideas, increasing the likelihood you’ll succeed in achieving your dreams.
After you finish with your Needs Fixing list, move on to the Needs Achieving list. Utilize the same approach. The idea is to show yourself just how many options you have, which will empower you and lift you from the illusion of being a helpless victim.
A word of caution. It’s well established that people who write down goals are much more likely to attain them. Shoving the paper in a drawer and forgetting about it doesn’t affect this. You may well stumble across that list a year later to find that you succeeded in fixing and attaining everything you wrote down.