post written by The Practical Nerd
First things first: change your attitude.
One of my favorite books is The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes. While primarily a book about running a business, there is some great universal advice found here:
Listen to the people around you. It’s amazing how many times you will hear things like “I hate when that happens” or “I’m so out of shape” or “I can’t do that”. The reticular activating system is the attitude programmer of the brain, and its power lies in the face that the subconscious accepts all you feed it as reality. So if you’re telling it you can’t do something, guess what? You won’t be able to do it.
This is a powerful statement, and we can all immediately relate to it. We’ve heard plenty of statements like the ones Chet describes above. Ever since I read this book, I hear it more and more (maybe I just notice it more now).
If you are sitting around with problems in your life and you are just complaining about the lousy hand that you were dealt, you’ll get nothing done. Guaranteed. You will sit and wallow in it forever. But, if you switch that attitude towards hope and confidence, your brain will begin to get the idea. Tell yourself, “I will solve this,” or “There is a way out, and I will find it,” and you will start to notice the difference.
Stop whining. Now.
There is absolutely nothing I hate more than whining. And I used to be the poster boy for whining.
What does whining and complaining accomplish? Do you ever feel better after you complain for a while? Chances are you feel even more worked up than before. Also, every minute you spend whining is another minute you’re not spending solving the actual problem. So knock it off and get to work on it already. This world is full of Cooler People who like to sit and complain. Sadly, nothing gets solved that way.
Recognize that you are not unique, at least not in this situation.
I know it feels like nobody understands what you are going through, but someone does. In fact, a lot of people do. It really doesn’t matter the situation: anything you are going through right now, someone else has probably already dealt with. Does that make it suck any less? Of course not. But understanding that is a key to your attitude adjustment.
Start educating yourself.
In my situation above, one of my first steps was to start reading everything that I found on personal finance online. I’ve already spoken of the importance of educating yourself. This can give you the opportunity to discover the voices of people who know exactly what you are going through, and to learn from them how to deal with it (or how not to deal with it, in some cases).
Understand that looking for a quick fix will do nothing and waste time.
One of my first crackpot schemes for dealing with the 2006 financial crisis was to go to the inner city and donate my plasma for $20. Unfortunately, because of my high red blood cell count, the process dragged on a lot longer than usual. It was a 6 hour process. Obviously I never went back to that. And as I sat in the waiting room or looked around while blood was being pumped from my arm, I saw a lot of people that were in a lot worse shape than me. My $20 bill was actually impressing a gentleman who was standing behind me. I had sunk to quite a low.
And the thing is, I was just hoping for something easy. I was already dealing with school, and I worked all the time, too. I just wanted to quickly get a few bucks and head out the door to keep me afloat. Any major change in your life habits is going to be a longer process. Instead of hurrying it along, do your best to focus on completing each step of the journey to the best of your ability. In the long run, it will save you.
Set yourself some goals and write them down.
While you educate yourself on your situation and possible ways of dealing with it, take some notes. Yes, just like in school. Taking notes both ensures that you will remember what you are learning, and it will allow you to empty your head so that you release some of that stress onto the page. Make two lists: strategic goals and tactical goals. Strategic goals are the main resolutions that you are looking for in the long run.
- Eliminate credit card debt.
- Get over your current ex.
- Find better job fulfillment.
Tactical goals are the steps you need to take to realize your strategic goals.
- Find every way to reduce your monthly bills.
- Take some time to go through old photographs and throw out most of them.
- Determine what you are looking for in an ideal job and how your current job is getting you there.
Be confident that you have the strength to accomplish these goals.
I found out what I was made of in ‘06. After detailing what debts I needed to eliminate and the steps needed to bring them down and eventually pay them off, I took a second job waiting tables – a job I had promised myself I would never do. I spent a full year working 50-60 hours per week at both jobs (some days opening the bank at 8:00am and closing the restaurant at 11:00pm), while taking full-time credits in college. I had no time for myself and I struggled occasionally to keep it going, but I was able to dedicate myself to it and eliminate that debt. I knew I had the power to do it, and I did.
Don’t doubt yourself. The only thing that does is convince yourself that you can’t do it. It’s fear, and you need to deal with it directly to impact your life.
Recognize that sacrifices will have to be made.
Major changes in life habits require other major changes to accomplish them. In my case, I had to cut back on costs as much as possible. If you are in a financial crisis, maybe you need to cut some major costs, like cable/satellite television or changing grocery stores. In many cases, these sacrifices will not be permanent. But if you want to set yourself up for long-term happiness, you need to drop a few things right now, and maybe pick them up later.
Find an outlet for distraction – for your own sanity.
You can’t be dealing with the problem 24/7. You need time to enjoy yourself and to unwind. Otherwise, your health could be negatively impacted as well, and that’s the last thing you need right now. You can’t make the situation any fun, so you need to find time – and this is important – to switch off that part of your brain and relax. Do it through exercise, do it through a funny television show, do it through a little internet surfing, I really don’t care. But you need to give yourself a break. Be fair to yourself.
Find a support system for encouragement.
Don’t try to go at it alone. Share your experiences with friends and family. Find an online community for people dealing with your problem. Get some spiritual support from a church or reading the Bible. Don’t dump your problems on everyone, but share with them and listen to them – they should be helping you keep your spirits up. That’s what they are there for.
Dealing with stress is not fun, and ignoring it will just make things worse for you. Your quality of life will increase exponentially if you just admit to yourself the problem and commit yourself to the steps necessary to conquer it. The satisfaction that you will get in the end will be worth more than anything to you.
Do you have any tips for dealing with stress? Share them in the comments below!