There comes a point in time when most people feel like they are somehow overwhelmed and unable to control their environments. For me, I certainly felt like that growing up in an alcoholic family. No two days were consistent as my father’s alcohol binges made my life extremely unpredictable and often painful. I knew the key for me was to stay focused on what I could do to improve my lot in life and not wait around for someone to do it for me.
There were a few keys to unlock those doors that have always been in my control and what I have tried to leverage:
- A great attitude – To me, there is no substitute for this. When you see someone smile, you automatically feel better and typically will smile yourself. I try to get through each day with an attitude that I’m glad to be alive and often think about how much worse off many others are so I should be happy. To me there is always a silver lining in situations. The key is to find it and believe it.
- A thirst for knowledge – This has led me to an open minded and driven need to learn that has carried over to this day. I stayed engaged in classes and sought as much as I could from teachers, professors, and anyone else, for that matter, who would impart their knowledge and wisdom on me.
- Active listening – There hasn’t been much said around me that I haven’t absorbed and I also spend a lot more time listening than talking. I have always found that to be fundamental to understand what is going on around me and being prepared for situations that unfold.
- Preparation – Throughout my career, I have prided myself on doing the research, planning, communication, and follow-up necessary to be prepared for situations and projects. My belief is that better preparation leads to improved anticipation and more thorough analysis and outcomes because of it.
- Planning and organizing – I have found in any endeavor, that there is always a need to better plan and organize. That could be thoughts, logistics, or timing. Where I have seen lots of people lose control, it’s often centered on an inability to plan out what needs to get done. That takes many forms but improving this trait will lead to reduced stress and more productive outcomes.
Everyone is different and we all have gifts that we can maximize. I would maintain that the more you focus on what you can do to change your life, and eliminate any focus on those circumstances and situations beyond your control, the more likely you are to live a happier and healthier life.
What are other ways you’ve found to be less overwhelmed?