This is the second article in my Tough Times Series. I thought that this was a good topic to tackle, and it applies to everyone, not just when you’re going through burnout. Most of us at some point find ourselves in desperate situations in life, whether it is related to family, abuse, loss, finances, you name it, but those long dark tunnels can be built on many different grounds. Traversing those tunnels and staying focused through though times is the question we will address today.
I would not call myself an expert, but I have had my share of dark, gloomy tunnels, so I am glad to use those experiences to help people today. I think that the best use we can give to bad experiences is not to bemoan them but use them. Find a lesson in them to help yourself and others.
How Can You Stay Focused Through Tough Times?
I’m not going to say that it’s easy, because it is not. There is no magic formula. When you are grieving, then you have to give yourself the time to grieve. If someone hurt you, you need time to get over that.
How much time can you give yourself, though? What is a reasonable time and what can be called reasonable? There isn’t any rule on this, it all depends on ourselves, doesn’t it? There inevitably comes a moment, though, where you know that the dark cloud has been hanging over your house for too long and it has to move, allow the light back in.
There comes a moment where we have to decide to get back up and face the world again.
Keep Things Running When You Can Barely Run Yourself …?
When something dreadful happened to me in the past, I always allowed myself to cry over it. You have to. There is no point in being the tough, badass chick or guy, showing everyone how you can handle everything. Doesn’t that just isolate yourself more and increase the burden?
It’s OK to tell people that you’re all right when you’re not if you really don’t want to talk about it, but I do not see the point in pretending to be on top of things when you’re not. If you’re not feeling OK, and someone asks you, would it be so bad to admit how you are really doing? Well, depending on how close you are to that person, of course. I am not saying to tell a random stranger your whole life story, but when people are close to you, I think that it’s OK to open up.
Throwing myself into work often helped keep my mind off things, but what do you do when you run your own business? When you have to create content for your website or be a pleasant voice on your daily or weekly podcast?
If you need to take a break, then do that, but do not take too long. There is a time to fall, but the time to get up again also arrives, and we cannot miss that moment, otherwise we may end up staying down.
Focus on the Good
I know, you may not feel like doing that when something terrible has happened, but you should. “Focus on the good” is an expression I wrote on a post it and which I attached over my door, so I see it every time I go outside or I pass by there. I admit, there are days when I see it and I think “meh”, but even then it inspires me.
I focus on the wonderful things that I have on that particular day, the blue sky, the song of the birds, the terrific lunch I prepared, my dog who comes to give me some love, or a new comment on my blog post. There are always good things happening, no matter how bleak things sometimes seem to be.
That one is so easy to do when things are going well, but a tough one when things are not going so great. It is, however, at times when we are at our worst that we should practice gratitude. It is similar to focusing on the good.
There are days when you feel that nothing goes right and you just want to curl up in bed and forget about the world. I don’t know if you are a fan of Friends. There was one episode when Ross was dating Julie, but he still had feelings for Rachel. Chandler advised him to make a list of pros and cons about both Julie and Rachel. It was hilarious when Rachel discovered that list and called Ross out on it.
We don’t have to make such a list concerning our circumstances, but gratitude works kind of like that list.
Terrible things are happening, you feel like nothing ever goes right, you feel lost … then how can you be grateful about anything?
There is a lot to be grateful for, if you are healthy, then you should be grateful for your health, because many people do not have that privilege. Food on the table, as simplistic as it sounds, but do you want to cry with a full or an empty fridge? I take the full fridge any time. Your freedom to move around, the music you can listen to, the gentle sound of the waves – or if you don’t live near the ocean, the flow of the river, or the sounds of the forests.
There is still much beauty to be found.
But Stay Focused?
Nonetheless, even if you find gratitude and some sparkle in life, will it be enough to stay focused on your plans, business, goals, or whatever it is that kept you going until now? If it is important enough not to let go, then do not give up on it.
If it is hard to keep your concentration, write down a list of tasks you want done every day and keep it short and basic. Do what is necessary, but do not overload yourself. Like this you will keep things going, and your business or projects will float instead of drown in sorrow.
Didn’t Freddy Mercury sing such a long time ago “The show must go on?” He had a good point there.
With the Bare Minimum You Can go Back to Your Full Potential
With a list of the minimum amount of tasks you could accomplish every day it is possible to keep things going while giving yourself time to get over past events and not letting your projects suffer because of it.
Make sure you write down your tasks every day, and then check them off one by one, as soon as you get each of them done. Reaching those little goals on a daily basis will also help you feel better. In the end, saving your work and goals may well end up saving you. Hopefully soon, you can go back to the way things were.