One Problem at a Time

18% of the US population suffers from anxiety disorders, some of which is caused by work induced stress. If you have high levels of work related stress then you may want to try an approach I use to combat stress. Whenever I am faced with a seemingly daunting task, I force myself to break it down into manageable pieces and take “one problem at a time”. I graduated US Army Airborne school in 2003 and did not jump again until 2010. I had a 7 year separation from when I learned how to jump out of an airplane to making my 1st jump after graduating. 7 years later I found myself wearing a parachute I have never used, in an airplane I have never jumped out of and using method we never learned in school. I couldn’t even remember how to put on the parachute much less remember how to read the wind or land properly. Its like passing your drivers test and waiting 7 years for your first solo drive. Instead of allowing the magnitude of the situation to weigh me down, I took one problem at a time. I only focused on the task in front of me instead of worrying about the entire process. Worrying about a painful landing is not going to help me don my parachute or ensure my actions inside the aircraft won’t injure someone else. By giving the immediate problem my full attention, I am able get it right the first time which puts me in a better position to solve the next problem. If I didn’t get the harness seated properly on my body, my ability to control the parachute on the descent would be affected (trust me I know, I made this mistake a couple jumps later!).

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I’m using the jumping example to illustrate this point because the problems come at you in rapid succession and there are consequences for your lack of performance. Try breaking down what ever is stressing you out into a logical series of smaller problems and only focus on the first hurtle. Block everything else out and solve that immediate problem with laser focus. You should notice increased confidence as you solve each problem. This is hard to do and takes practice, but it works!

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