Polly Campbell

Polly Campbell

Imperfect Spirituality

How to Face Adversity Like a Champion

Five fail-safe ways to get unstuck and moving again

Posted Jun 02, 2016

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I’m looking at my calendar and it’s solid with little green bars marking meetings and events three days out.  Stories due. Conference calls. Interviews. Forms to fill out. Appointments with the physical therapist – some problems with my hip.

Need to get gas in the car too and some groceries, if anyone is going eat around here. And, I’m not feeling all that good. My rheumatoid arthritis is flaring and I’m struggling to get through the morning with any kind of energy or focus.

Right now I’m toggling between Facebook and my e-mail feeling stuck. I’m ruminating. Over-thinking. Not getting anything done.

Need to find a way to get going. To regroup and push through the trouble spots. To move through the obstacles and challenges, (big or small) rather than be caught up by  them.

I’m pretty sure my challenges aren’t as dramatic as say LeBron James, or soccer star Alex Morgan. I don’t have to fight back from surgery, avoid paparazzi, or worry about how to manage, you know,  20 million dollars, but when it comes to dealing with adversity, my chance for success, just like theirs, come down to mindset.

Do You Have the Mindset of a Champion?

Our attitudes determine whether we’ll succeed, or not, according to research led by Dave Collins and published in Frontiers in Psychology.

Collins found that the athletes at the top of their sports continually push for improvement, and have deep internal motivation, but they also respond to setbacks and obstacles more positively and proactively. They are more determined when things go haywire. Even in the throes of adversity, they keep working to come back better, stronger, faster.

The second-tier athletes? Not so much. The study revealed that when hit by injury or other adversity, many of the other athletes were surprised by the challenging circumstances, stymied by the difficulty. They lost motivation and were more likely to quit instead of push for  the kind of personal improvement and growth their champion counterparts did.

How You Respond Determines Your Success

Everyone suffers adversity, but those who succeed and climb to the top bring a certain resilience, attitude, and perspective that allows them to move on to acquire the knowledge and experience and practice they need to become even better.

It’s not so much the challenges they face – the study revealed the obstacles of the elite performers are not much different than those who finish second – but how they respond to those challenges that makes a champion or at least allows for improvement and progress. Those who keep going, keep working toward improvement or something better, tend to do better.

5 Fail-Safe Strategies to Get Unstuck

So on days like today when I’m feel buzzed by big and little problems I use a few simple strategies to get back into that championship mentality. I know I need to dig deep, move out of my feelings of worry and overwhelm, stop ruminating (and Facebooking) and get going. Action is the best way I know to reignite my motivation and determination to get unstuck.

Here are the five fail-safe strategies that I use to get going again.

1. Get your butt up. I just did this one. I got up, poured a cup of coffee and went out on the back deck for a couple of minutes, took some deep breaths. A brief change in environment can signal the end of the time-wasting and the beginning of the getting-stuff-done phase, by disrupting the pattern of Super Stuckedness.

2. Keep it short. Now it's time work and it helps to know that I’m only going for 10 minute chunks. Research shows that we can only really stay focused and on task for about 20 minutes at a time. Today, though, and many days, I’m lucky if I get a solid ten minutes without interruption. Ten minutes. I can do that, right? After the  ten, I get up, take a two minute break, and hit it again. 

Here’s the thing: Usually, after just a few minutes of focused work, I am sucked into the process and the good feelings that come with progress and completion. My focus is sharper and I keep on a bit longer. I almost always get more done than expected in those highly-focused chunks.

3. Blurt out a gratitude. When I’m feeling sucked under by the mundane tasks of life, I really get whiny and complainy — to use the technical terms. I fuss over little things. Mountains out of molehills.

And most days, at exactly the same time that I am feeling bad there are approximately a zillion other things that I do like and appreciate. My heart is still beating – that’s a good thing. I usually find my work to be interesting and meaningful. And, I love my big lug of a cat.

So when I stop and settle and take in what is good in my life, it gets me going. It allows me to drop the negative energy and feelings that have me ruminating and stuck and shift into better feelings. Those good feelings of gratitude propel me forward. This is where stuff gets done.

Try it: Just take a minute to blurt out a few of the things you are grateful for, just Idina-Menzel it at the top of your lungs and let the good stuff move you.

4. Get over yourself. Usually after blurting gratitude, I’m over it. Seriously, my challenges today, such as the edits on the article or the guy who missed our interview, umm, they are hassles but not all that hard to handle. With a little perspective you can shift your thoughts and flow into the good energy of inspired action.

5. Find something to look forward to. I have a few things I need to finish up and then I get to work on the Next. Big. Project. That has me excited and I feel a little more energized and less like laying my head down on my desk and typing with one finger.

When I’m in the clutches of the frustration, I remember that as soon as I finish I get to move on to the dream project. Then I put in my chunk of 10, blurt, and get going.

Find that one thing today – happy hour with friends later, a good workout during your lunch break, a fun project you get to work on – anything that energizes you just a little bit and keep it there in your mind. That’s your reward for getting the must-do’s done. Use it to motivate you forward.

By using these strategies to get unstuck you can access your own champion mindset and get moving again.

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