What Should You Do When Things Are Not Working?

Do you know how much time you save and how much of your sanity you retain when you stop fighting against things you should let go of? You know as much as I do what a wall we keep coming up against when we stick to a path we’ve chosen, one that we won’t back down from. The problem with that is the stronger we feel about our path, our choices and the consequences, the harder it is to let things just happen as they do. And the harder it is for us to deal with the situation because you can only truly deal with the situation when you’ve gotten past the emotional phase.

So, these are some of the things I do when I feel that things are not working out the way I would like or the way I’ve planned.

1. Deal with the emotion first. Be stoic all you want but if you need to have a crying fit, don’t hold it in. Let it go. Embrace it and then move on. What I keep seeing around me is that when you hide or deny it, it stays.

2. Take stock. Sure, you don’t always want to think through your problems. Sometimes, it feels nicer to just mope, whine or feel pathetic. But one thing I’ve come to realise is that if you choose not to deal with your problems, in one way or another, life keeps throwing it back at you… until you get it.

3. Stop reacting. And by that I mean, I still react but I work on catching myself. I see myself in reactionary mode and then I try to fix it. Hey, these problems take years to develop, layer upon layer. It’s not about to just disappear just because you want it to. Don’t just do what you usually do which means confronting :-

i. what makes you uncomfortable;

ii. the fact that at some level you have failed;

iii. the possibility that you may fail again.

4. Remember that you don’t want to deal with symptoms but with root cause. How do you distinguish symptom from root cause? When you find that you’re frequently fighting with your colleague, you notice that the arguments are varied. They seem petty, inconsequential and you’re not quite sure what the problem is. You don’t want to focus on the individual issues – you want to think about what the bigger issue might be – is it power play, jealousy or a confidence issue?

5. Test and analyse. Repeat. Best to go with A/B testing. It’s time consuming, probably very laborious and you have to patiently wait as you go through various tests and results. But the beauty of tests is that they generate results. Something firm and definite you can rely on, instead of just making assumptions or guessing your way through.

6. Take a break. Rest. Sometimes, things don’t work because you just need rest.

7. Go out and seek advice. No harm done and everything to gain.

8. Be patient. It’s one of the biggest challenges I face. Patience requires big picture thinking so its not so well suited to those who are interested in quick wins.

9. Take control, don’t play the victim card. I saved the best for last. Things don’t work all the time, and they don’t go your way all the time. We know that, and yet we try to fit these square pegs into round holes. And we bring on the grief. But taking control is accepting that at some point, we are responsible for the things we say, for the actions we take. Yes, there are other inputs into that journey, many of which we do not control. But we are not trying to control other people or these circumstances – and if you are, you should stop banging your head on the wall. What we seek to control is our expectation and our manner of dealing with things. We simply cannot hope our way into the live we seek. We have to live it, through the choices we make and the experiences we live through.

What do you think?


About rowena morais

Media Communications and Editorial Specialist. With my strong professional network of contacts, I help individuals and organisations, particularly those within Human Resource and Technology, strengthen their skill-base and brand through compelling writing, beautiful design, content marketing and publishing. Let's talk.

One response to “What Should You Do When Things Are Not Working?

  1. vincent bradbury

    You have a very positive and constructive way of analyzing and dissecting a problem and making suggestions for correction and improvement. Keep up the good work.


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