by Peter Comrie
Sometimes our best-made plans fall to pieces. Sometimes, things happen that are outside of our control, and they impact our lives in ways that we couldn’t possibly have foreseen. When these things happen, and the effects are potentially catastrophic, we call them a crisis. Unfortunately, going through times of crisis is part of life’s rich tapestry, and we’ll all encounter them occasionally. We can’t avoid them, and so it’s important that we know how to deal with them.
The most important thing you can do during a time of crisis is to accept that there are things that you can’t control. If you can’t control something, every second you spend worrying about it is wasted time. Instead of focusing on what you can’t control, it’s time to focus on the things that you can. You may not be able to escape the consequences of a crisis completely, but you can limit its impact on you and the people around you. Here are five tips I’ve picked up that will hopefully help you to do exactly that.
1. Don’t Be Rushed into Kneejerk Responses
When everything’s going wrong, and you need to respond to a situation quickly, you’re at risk of going with a kneejerk response for the sake of doing something instead of doing nothing. This is always a mistake, and the consequences can be disastrous. Even in the most trying of circumstances, there’s always time to slow down, take a breath, and think about the positives and negatives of whatever you’re considering as a response. Ask yourself whether your situation is temporary or permanent. Draw up a flowchart and track the possible consequences of every potential response from now until a year in the future, and give yourself a chance to take every thought to its logical conclusion. There will be a ‘best response’ to even the worst of situations, and taking a moment to identify if it is better than going with whatever comes to mind first.
2. Don’t Fall Back on Your Vices
This is something that all of us are bit guilty of, and we all have vices of some kind. That could be smoking, drinking, gambling, comfort eating, or something else. Drinking ‘to take the edge off’ a situation is far more common than most people think. If you’re in financial peril, gambling might look like it provides you with a fast route out of the problem so long as you can win. There’s nothing wrong with drinking responsibly. There’s nothing wrong with loading up on lottery tickets during times when you can afford to lose money, and you’re indulging in the hobby for entertainment. Spending money you can’t afford to lose on lottery tickets, though, would be disastrous. Drinking will cloud your judgment. Smoking to deal with the stress will do you physical harm. Put the packet away, put the bottle down, stay away from the lottery machines until you’re in a better mental place, and don’t give in to temptation. They’re all just ways of avoiding the problem instead of dealing with it.
3. Don’t Dwell on the Past
Perhaps there was an action you could have taken in the past that could have averted this crisis. Perhaps there was a decision that you would have taken differently if you’d known the consequences. That’s usually true of any crisis, but you have nothing to gain from dwelling on a bad decision and regretting the outcome. That’s gone now, and all you can do is deal with the reality you’re living in. Dwelling on the past will not only hurt you psychologically by feeding a negative mindset, but it will also take up valuable time that you ought to be using trying to find a way forward. This is all part and parcel of letting go of the things you can’t control, as we said earlier. You can’t change the past. You can still change your future.
4. Find a Mentor
It’s spectacularly unlikely that you’re the only person in history who’s ever had to deal with the circumstances you’re facing right now. Someone else has already been through it, and they’ll have found a way to come out of it the other side and survive. You need to find people with the right experience, speak to them, and seek their guidance. It pays to have a mentor in life for both personal and business reasons, and it can be anyone from a family member, a coach, to a colleague or a friend. You can’t cope with a crisis on your own. Even if you’re embarrassed by your situation, someone who genuinely cares about you will listen to you without judgment and try to assist you as best they can. You’ve never needed sound advice as much as you do right now. Go and find it. It’s out there somewhere.
5. Take Time Away
You might feel like you can’t rest until whatever problem you’re facing has been solved. Because of that, you might be working too many hours, not getting enough sleep, working at times or on days that you wouldn’t normally work, and possibly even neglecting your family or loved ones. None of this will help you. You won’t make any good decisions while you’re exhausted. In fact, the more tired you become, the more at risk you are of making a bad decision and bringing further misfortune upon yourself. To deal with whatever’s coming, you’re going to have to be at your best. That means you need to be fit, healthy, well-rested, and mentally sharp. You can only do that if you’re treating yourself well and taking regular ‘time outs’ from the situation. Stepping away doesn’t mean you’re giving up. It just means you’re re-charging yourself so you can do your best work later on.
So long as you’re still breathing, you’re still in the fight. Staying calm and allowing yourself to reflect on sound advice with a clear mind in a wellrested body will give you the best chance of coming out of this in the best condition possible. You can do it – you just need to create the right conditions for yourself.
Following the steps I’ve outlined above will help you on your way.