Last week began with great promise. I had such high hopes and expectations for the week and then mid-week it happened. Almost imperceptibly at first – my computer stopped working. Not all of a sudden mind you, but gradually. At first it just seemed unusual that I needed to restart my computer again because it got hung up. By Thursday the problem had intensified, but I kept pushing forward, unwilling to accept that this challenge would delay my projects for the week. I simply rebooted my computer every hour or so when it got stuck and figured that I would make up for the lost productivity by working longer hours. By Friday, my poor computer became unusable and I was left feeling stressed about missing project deadlines and uncertain over the solution for my computing woes. It is often through the challenges of life that we learn significant lessons and I’d like to share what I’ve learned from this with you.
Reframe the challenge
Early on as my computer began working against me I caught myself wondering – “Why is this happening to me right now?” Ever had that thought cross your mind? About the third time I asked myself this question I realized I was asking the wrong question. Although it is natural to look for the “why” that is behind the obstacle that we’re facing, it isn’t particularly profitable unless our thinking goes further. By reframing our thinking from “Why is this happening to me?” to instead ask “What can I learn from this situation?” we are able to profit from our experience.
Often the most difficult part of the challenges that we face is actually in our mind. The head-game really is the hardest part. This isn’t about ignoring problems and pretending that only good things are happening in our lives – that’s not honest. This is about becoming aware of our thinking and recognizing the thoughts and thinking patterns that help us and those that don’t. By becoming aware of an unproductive thought process, I was able to reframe the situation and start looking for solutions that would not only resolve my current challenge but that would also have a long term impact.
Locate the silver lining
The silver lining isn’t always easy to spot. In fact sometimes it is downright hard to find. However this is one pursuit that is definitely worth the effort. Often the key to finding the solution or silver lining is about accessing the information that is already in our brain. Did you know that at any one time the human brain is actively handling about 20 million pieces of information? Thankfully, we are unaware of all of that information – talk about information overload. In fact, most people feel overwhelmed when they are actively handling about 12 pieces of information at the same time. Brain research has demonstrated that often we know the solution to the challenge at hand, we just aren’t aware of it. One tool for moving solutions from the hidden areas of the brain to the area of our conscious awareness is journaling. There is something about simply writing about what is going on that allows thoughts and ideas from deep inside to come out into the open.
Ironically, one of the few programs that would work on my computer at this time was my journaling software. As I began my quest for the answer to what I could learn from my computer crisis, the answer became clear within minutes.
I’m very thankful to have such wonderful people in my life who were so supportive and helpful during this situation. They were truly the silver lining in this situation for me and the lessons that I’ve learned from them were priceless. From the computer experts that I called on for help diagnosing the problem, formulating a solution, and recommending strategies for keeping this type of situation from slowing me down in the future, to the wonderful clients who were so understanding of the impact that this had on their project – I have much to be thankful for. Next week my dear computer will be back at my side working hard again and I’ll soon have a new iPad that I can use if my laptop gets sick again.