Life has a way of throwing challenges our way when we least expect them. One day we’re motoring along on our journey through life without major bumps in the road. But then when we least expect it, life throws a curve in the road that sends us in a direction we never anticipated. Oftentimes, an unexpected turn of events causes us to wonder if we are expected to overcome obstacle alone.
Navigating through challenges is like driving in a snowstorm. Even though you are a cautious driver, your car suddenly hits a patch of ice and, in just a few seconds, lands in a ditch. As you assess the situation, you realize you are the only car on the road. Suddenly you begin to panic. You have two choices: to attempt to shovel yourself out or to call for help. It’s hard to know what to do.
Unfortunately we will all face our own snowstorm at one point or another in life—and the same two choices. So, how do we know when to shovel ourselves out of a situation or ask for help? Here are five ways to work through a challenge and determine whether you need help from an expert:
1. Assess the situation objectively. If your car is stuck in a ditch during a snowstorm, you’re going to get out and look at how bad it is, right? Then you’re going to determine if you can shovel your way out or if you need a tow truck. When assessing the situation, view the challenge as a stranger would. What is the worst possible outcome? Can I solve this challenge on my own and remain safe? What are the ways I can solve this challenge?
2. Try a few solutions on your own first. Stay calm and go into problem solving mode. Mentally go over solutions or list them out on paper. Work through the problem one step at a time, just like a math student would. Select one of the options and try it. If it doesn’t work, try another. If your problem is not solved within a comfortable timeframe, then it is time to try another option.
3. Be open. When seeking help from an outside source, you must first be honest with yourself and then with them. By showing your true self and communicating candidly, you are allowing the person who is trying to help see the entire picture, not just the movie trailer. Be open to ideas and solutions. Be willing to walk down a new path to find the answers.
4. Learn from the challenge. What is your positive takeaway from this challenge? Could you have prevented it from happening? If so, how? If the challenge was unpreventable, determine one lesson you can extract from the experience that will help you become a better person. Remember, in every experience—good or bad—there is something to learn.
5. Look forward, not back. It is easy to continually reflect on our most challenging moments, especially when they were negative. But when we are always looking back, it doesn’t allow us to see the beauty in front of us. Chalk up your challenge to a valuable life lesson and, as quickly as you can, do your best to move on.
Working through life’s challenges can be … well … challenging. Following these five steps will help guide you out of the snowstorm and to embracing the message behind the challenge, realizing a newfound resilience, and finding your way back to the road that leads to achieving all your goals.
Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.