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When Things Don't Go as Planned: Reducing Stress by Being Resourceful

I get stuck sometimes. I find myself in a spot with a project, a difficult conversation, or an email exchange where I don't know what to do next. How do you feel when you're in situations where you feel stuck? I find it stressful. Why is that?

One reason that I find these situations stressful is that I think I have the resources (e.g., time, confidence, knowledge, etc.) to achieve what I want, but the resource that I usually rely on isn't available at the moment that I need it.

Have you ever been in the situation where you put off a project until the last minute and when you finally get to it, you realize that it's much bigger than you thought? That's stressful isn't it? This is because you thought you had the time (a resource) to complete the project, but now you don't have enough time.

This is where being resourceful can be a great source of stress reduction. I define resourcefulness as seeing other good resources that you can turn to when the resource you wanted isn't available. In the example above about the project, what other resources can you turn to? Can you call on your ability to network and ask someone else pitch in? Can you call on your bravery to admit a mistake and ask for an extension? Can you call on your creativity and pare the project down to its essentials? Networking, bravery, and creativity are resources that you can turn to because time is not available. With these resources, you can make this project manageable again and the threat of failure it mitigated.

As an aside to the example above, when I was growing up, I often experienced last minute homework situations and instead of calling on other resources, I pulled all-nighters. Yes, I found more of the time resource, but I also sacrificed sleep and health in the long run. It can be tempting to to do this, but if you can find other resources, the I think that's a better way to go.

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