Harnessing Personal Challenges
Monday, August 24, 2015 - Author: Robbie W.
Personal challenges materialize when we least expect it. Various challenges develop due to requirements of being a good citizen to the necessities of life for personal comfort. Every so often, we choose to take on a project just for the gratification it brings. Whatever your mission, feeling time restrictions and overwhelmed are common feelings when approaching any new task. Knowing that you have a strategy may ease the frustrations brought about by those feelings of being swamped and the chance of never completing the project at the end. Exploring worthwhile tactics for dealing with an unfamiliar challenge can relieve that pain in your abdomen that you have been familiar with since you were a kid. Learning to harness the intricate parts of your project can calm the nervous apprehension to see a finished project.
Personal challenges and obligations that might be on your list:
- Taking classes to complete a certificate or degree program
- Studying for an exam for school or a promotion
- Setting up your files to pay annual taxes
- Renewing your license and automobile tags
- Saving money for your first home, your children's education, or retirement
- Cleaning-out and organizing a closet or the garage
- Preparing a large holiday dinner for the family
Cultivating a Strategy
Years ago, I aspired to become a professional flautist. To accomplish this, broadening my repertoire required studying and playing three-movement concertos. My composer of choice was Mozart. His classical style challenged the fingers as well as the mind. Mozart enjoyed using some of the most awkward fingering transitions in his flute concertos. Eliminating the third tone between 2-notes in his 16th note passages in several difficult measures was demanding. To remove that third note, I would practice the same two notes over, and over. Eventually, three long measures of 16th note phrases would rush off the sheet of music to my keys with jubilant ease into the air.
I learned to take each phrase, each measure, and each note of music one at a time through this experience. I have used this philosophy throughout the years. Required tasks that seemed monumental even threatening, I learned to handle little by little; one task at a time to eventually make them manageable. From painting the house to completing a university degree program to building a computer-training program, life's challenges handled one measure or step at a time make the overwhelming trials in life controllable.
Timely Measured Preparation
Knowing the time required to complete a project is necessary for proper preparation. If you understand your time restraints on a project, it can help you establish a timetable to follow. If you do not have a deadline, make a deadline with reasonable limits. Take your challenge and divide the project into several weeks, days, even hours depending on the size of your project and your time limitations.
Preparing ahead, analyzing the requirements of your project, and then acknowledging your time limits will aid in making the task appear easier. Of course, you may still have doubts although in the end wouldn't it be worth the try. Breaking the project into parts and identifying the difficult parts is essential. Dividing the more difficult areas down into smaller, more manageable parts may seem like you are expanding the job but you are not. Creating adaptable sub-tasks will help avoid that overwhelming fear that you have made a foolish decision taking on this project. There may be days when you will feel hopeless and giving up might be easier. As you complete several sub-tasks, you will see that you are making headway on your project. The realization that the time spent on the preparation and management of your project is actually helping you gain valuable techniques and confidence as the project progresses through each phase to its conclusion.
Prepare for the unexpected
Less than a week before the competition, I found out that I was required to perform the entire concerto. From the three prepared movements, the music adjudicators would choose the two movements they wanted to hear on the day of the competition. Having prepared only two movements as per my teacher's instructions instead of the three, I had more work in less time in front of me. The first reaction I felt was panic and then my heart was pounding as it did when I first looked through my sheet music several months before. With the work I had done on the other movements, I knew to pick out the most difficult parts of the new movement and then piece it all together when they were close to perfection. Knowing that this method had worked for me preparing the first two movements, made the preparation of the final movement an enjoyable experience along with my new acquired confidence.
Anticipating an unanticipated circumstance will help keep you from panicking. Many times, you will find that the directions for the project are excluded, or someone has a dire need to add an additional section that will end up expanding the concepts of a project. By taking a deep breath, carefully assessing the time and the size of the new requirements for the additional task affords for the efficacious completion of the project.
List making is not optional, but a requirement for stability
Any project can be tackled with this measure-to-measure process. This does not mean that you need to do this with every job, just the ones that are more intricate. It begins with lists to organize the various components of a project.
Here are a few ideas to include on your organizational list for your project:
- When is the project or assignment due
- What amount of time will you require to complete it
- Determine the resources you will need
- Identify people that can help with the process
- Additional cooks
- Categorize and isolate tasks or sections of the project that will require extra time and attention
- Break tasks and sections into categories depending on the complexity of the task
- Re-evaluation of your list as tasks are completed
- Remember to breathe
No challenge needs to generate fear in your soul
You may not need to take every project apart piece by piece as Henry Ford did to build his Model Ts. Before you undertake any project or challenge learn to evaluate it, and decide what segments of the job will require additional time and energy. The sections that do require additional time and research should be worked on section-by-section to ensure that you are not rushed or ill prepared to present a thoroughly finished product. This will save time and even money in the end. Assimilation of the less complicated tasks into the project will come organically when the most difficult tasks are prepared first. Why build a chart unless you have the data to fill it? Why have the illustrations chosen if you have not written the article? Know what you need, identify your tasks; work on the difficult tasks item by item. This will make the integration of the remaining project pieces more effective. Any challenge can be handled in this uncomplicated manner when you just take the time to evaluate the pieces that are involved in your project measure by measure.