I used to be a believer in the idea that if you didn’t know what to do, then you should do nothing. This mentality stemmed from the fact that you shouldn’t make brash decisions when you don’t have the right answer. And in some ways, this still holds true – making hasty decisions doesn’t generally serve anyone well. However, doing nothing doesn’t really help you either.
If you’re faced with a tough decision, if you’re overwhelmed with an assignment, if you’re going through relationship woes, or whatever your troubles may be, you will have to make decisions…and they won’t be easy ones to make.
I’m now a firm believer in the fact that taking your mind off the subject at hand will in turn help you resolve the issue more quickly than spending hours and hours dwelling over the problem until you come up with some solution.
When I was in high school, I took a theatre class to cover my fine arts credit. I got to class on the day of a test, and I had to stand up in front of the class to recite my lines from the play we were currently studying. I thought I knew these lines like the back of my hand. I stood up in front of the class, all the students sitting in a circle around the room staring in my direction, and I began to spill out my lines (I was playing a bratty baby girl in a big family and I was supposed to throw a tantrum).
I was crushing it. I knew all of these lines in my sleep – we’d been practicing this play for weeks!
Half way through my skit, I froze.
I could physically feel everyone’s eyes focusing on me as I blushed with embarrassment.
I had no idea what to say next. I couldn’t even improvise on this thing. I just froze.
After a long, embarrassing pause, my teacher looked at me and quietly said, “Touch your finger to your nose.”
Confused, I continued to stand silently in the middle of the room with no words to fill the space, and I touched my finger to my nose. He told me to keep it there for a few seconds.
If I knew the term “WTF” as a freshman in high school, I would have been thinking it at this very moment.
Almost instantaneously, the lines came to me! I couldn’t believe it. I stopped freaking out long enough to touch my nose, and I proudly recited the rest of my lines for the class.
I sat down, and my teacher stood up to tell the class why he had me touch my nose.
He explained that whenever you don’t remember something, or when you don’t know what to do while performing in a play, it helps to do something to take your mind off of the subject at hand. Freaking out and having an anxiety attack is not going to help you when you have an auditorium filled with people staring at you in your moment of glory.
If you’re trying to remember a line on stage, think about something else and it might come to you.
I felt like a little science experiment for this guy… I never in a million years would have believed that hokey story had it not happened to me that very day in class.
I’ve never forgotten this story. It has stuck with me in all aspects of my life. This idea is relevant to almost any problem you come across. Whenever you’re faced with a tough decision, don’t do nothing. Do something. Do something to take your mind off of whatever you’re struggling with.
- Take a walk outside – Matt Madeiro is a big fan of nighttime walks to help clear your mind. It’s true – walks are good for the soul. Keep your cell phone and watch at home, and just go wander. Get outta the office or house. Clear your head!
- Go exercise – Exercise has so many benefits that I could turn this post into a fitness article… but I’ll leave the fitness stuff to other people who know what they’re talking about. In a nutshell, exercise de-stresses you, releases tension, releases endorphins, and helps take your mind off of anything that isn’t your body and your heart rate at that very moment. Take a yoga class, go for a run, go rock climbing (photo above), or go lift heavy things. Whatever you choose, just get your blood pumping!
- Read… for fun – this is a good one. If you’re buried in work-related materials all day long, reading may not sound so fun. But if you pick up a trashy romance novel or something epic like The Hunger Games, your literary endeavors quickly become a place for escape.
- Call a friend or family member you haven’t spoken with in a while – always therapeutic. Don’t go weeks without speaking to your loved ones! If you can’t come up with a solution to a certain problem, talk it out with a friend or family member. Or, just call them to say hi.
- Make a pot of coffee or tea – caffeine. Stimulates the brain!
- Bake a fattening and unhealthy Paula Deen recipe – baking is always a fun, time-consuming challenge. I love it. You can turn on some loud music, dance around your kitchen as you preheat that oven, see what ingredients you’ve got, and just go to town baking something that will certainly clog your arteries. It may not be good for your body, but it sure is good for your soul.
- Organize your closet – a messy space never helped anyone think straight…unless you’re one of those gifted folks who know your mess perfectly and don’t want anything moved. If you’re feeling like you’re cluttered, clean up. When you clean around you, your brain somehow becomes a little clearer, too!
- Help someone do something – helping others is therapeutic, too. Not only do random acts of kindness give you good karma points, they also help distract you while you subconsciously make your decisions.
- Stalk people on Facebook (… seriously).
- Plan to cross something off of your non-bucket list
Find SOMETHING to distract yourself, and the answers will come to you, young grasshoppa!
What do you do when you’re faced with a tough decision? Please share in the comments below, or send me an email and let’s chat it out!