Overwhelmed? Find meaning and control

Written by: Dr. Marie Anderson, SKS Partner

When there are difficult, unstable, or stressful situations going on around me, I often keep my head down and work harder. I focus on the immediate tasks at hand when stress is heightened, anxiety is intensified, and the noise is elevated. During times like these, I do whatever I can to get through and often that means work, work, work. I would like to share why this approach can be productive and even healthy while the wave of uncertainty swells around us.

At the peak of a crisis, whether it is a global pandemic or other significant changes, it is normal to feel like so much is beyond our control. It is common to struggle to understand let alone find meaning in the chaos. While it might seem odd to focus on small tasks when we are overwhelmed by what is happening in the world around us, I would argue that focusing on those very responsibilities can help us to stay centered. The reality is that our daily work is important now more than ever.
The work we do every day is what will pave the way for the future and set ourselves and our organizations up for success. Even when the tasks may feel insignificant, this perspective can help us find a way to create meaning. These are the very things that will keep us going, allow us to endure, and help us come through stronger on the other side. To use a sports analogy, the game of baseball often finds that it is the singles and the doubles that win the game. 

As we focus in on those daily tasks that are the core of driving us forward, how do we “lean-in to what we do best?” No matter how small, we can find a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment in these everyday activities. Doing our work with precision and care is at the heart of mastery and provides a feeling of heightened control that we can tap into repeatedly, a boost to self-esteem, and a sense of wellbeing. This is valuable in helping us feel good about ourselves and our work and can even facilitate the finding of meaning.

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