When to give up

The problem: You try to achieve a goal with all your power but the result is not showing up, you have problems and you get frustrated.
This problem can show up for short term working goals or even while working towards long term goals. I think it is a well known situation for everyone having those walls in front - barriers, hurdles, hences wherever you look. You put so much effort into a thing that you do not want to believe that it was for nothing. - Even worse is the feeling if you think to be already very close to your final goal. You release your last energy reserves and nothing, nothing helps. You get tired and more frustrated because with every attempt more and more time is wasted.

The reason: Insufficient evaluation, missing knowledge, missing experience and bad luck.
Whenever you set a goal before starting you usually check the possible solutions or ways to reach your goal and choose one that seems to bring an optimum somewhere between quality and required effort and/or resources. This is an evaluation process that is based on a lot of insecurities. While working towards your goal some things may happen that you did not expect and this might affect the required effort or the final output negatively.

Then you maybe already put a lot of effort into your project and to ensure that your work was not for nothing you automatically put more effort into your project. If you face a "real" problem that cannot be solved in an economic way you create a vicious circle.

The solution: Do a pit stop for new evaluation.
When you face a situation that turns out to put your main goal in danger working with the expected amount of effort then take yourself time to
  • think of a workaround for your current problem but still should lead you to your goal,
  • think of asking for help,
  • think if there is additional knowledge that could help you and where you could get it,
  • review the estimation of required work to achieve your goal,
  • review the goal itself (maybe arriving half the way is enough or another goal is more adequate - at least for now - think of the 80/20 rule here also known as the Pareto principle)
Is it still economic to work towards that specific goal - now?

"Giving up" is negatively tagged in our language and "giving up" is seen as a general capitulation. But giving up on something is not a general capitulation.

Giving up is an economical decision driven by experience!

And further:

Giving up NOW does not mean necessarily giving up FOREVER!
Giving up is not necessarily completely STOPPING - it is heading over to new goals.

It might turn out later after the accumulation of additional knowledge and waiting some time that then - later - your goal can be achieved a lot easier.

But after a new evaluation of your current situation it also may turn out to be better to continue because the new situation might add additional value to your project.

Continuing on a difficult thing might empower your personality and your know-how - it might turn you to a leader in your field of work!

Before you decide whether to continue or not make sure that you have well evaluated the situation. When you decide not to continue then think of the experience you got and the opportunity to learn from it - from the situation, from your false estimation but also from all the steps you achieved so far working towards your goal. This reduces the negative feeling of "lost time".


When to change style

Today morning I thought of a new blog post when I suddenly found me loosing a lot of time thinking on how it could fit my style in the form "The problem, The reason, The solution". Finally I either forgot about what was my initial idea to post because my focus drifted completely to the how instead of the what.

I came to the conclusion that it is not efficient to press everything in the same schema. Maybe it is possible but only with a lot more effort and less effect.

Although this is not my initial intention of post it either does not fit into the style of the previous posts. Why?
  • I didn't either feel to have a problem here before finding the solution but
  • I could identify a lot of different problems where the same solution applies: "Change your style" - And further
  • I do not really know what to write as the reason for my previously not existing problem - maybe my desire to have everything well organized or the human tendency of thinking in a well known schema - I don't know but I could imagine there are .
I can only say that there was a trigger that changed my thoughts completely: I felt uncomfortable because of the difficulty to get something done in the way I was used to.

So the message is simply: When you find yourself in trouble achieving something then think of changing your style.
Style can be your style of writing, your style of thinking or even your outfit. A football player does not wear his dress in really every circumstance. This does not mean that you do completely give up your personality if you adjust your style adequately!


Crying children

The problem: Your baby cries
Unfortunately until your children can talk to you telling you their problem they only cry and you can only guess what is the problem.

The reason: The reason has to be guessed.

The solution: Try the easiest and logical things first.
Try to put yourself in the position of your baby. Some possible problems may be very near to check:
  • Is your baby hungry? - This is mostly the loudest and desparate cry of the baby.
  • Has the pacifier fallen out of it's mouth?
  • Is the nappy probably full (nobody wants to sit in a full nappy I guess)?
  • Does it want to be taken out of the bed to be near to the mother or father?
  • Does it want that you change it's position (from back to belly position for example)?
I do see parallelism to a lot of other problems in life where it might be useful to think of the most obvious probable reasons and maybe very easy solution...

Don't go empty

The problem: When starting to clean your flat you find a lot of disorder

The reason: A lot of small things easily remain somewhere after you were using.

You might usually think: "I will bring them to their place when I have time" or "at the next possibility I will bring them back to their place".

The solution: When going from one room to another just look around if there is something that you can take with you to put in place.
Looking around what things might serve when brought to another room that you are going to or passing by and taking them with you gives additional value to each meter you are walking through your flat.

Blessing of criticism

Today I read the 16 Tips to Survive Brutal Criticism (and Ask for More) at lifehack:

Honesty is a Good Thing, Here’s How to Survive It
Here are some tips for surviving the floods of good intentions that might crash upon your ego:
The problem: Our ego gets hurt when we get critics.

The reason: We see ourselves too much in competition with others and getting critics gives us a feeling of decreased value of ourself.

The solution: Criticism is the best what can happen to you.

It is a very good thing to get feedback. If it is constructive then it helps to improve you / your work / your view ... - if it is not constructive it improves your strength finding good arguments for your opinion and your solutions or it is an exercise how not to feed a troll. And last but not least it shows you that it is sometimes a good thing to hear what others think and sometimes it is time wasted. Most people simply change their habits and do not contribute to improve the situation. So criticism is a blessing because someone took the time to give feedback. Evaluate the value for you.


Switch to authentic mode

The problem: Ever felt insecure when you get together with other people?
Whenever you enter a shop or you go to the gym there are people around you and you might feel insecure if you should ask something or talk to those people around you. But also it might be an associate or your boss: When you are talking to them you might feel very insecure how to say what and when would be the best moment for telling them.

The reason: There are a lot of goals and fears that accompany your intentions to communicate.
There are fears like being fired, fears to get an answer that offend you or the fear that others feel offended on your comments. You might have set you the goal to be the nicest person on earth and you fear that you are not meeting the high expectations - there are plenty of such inhibitors.

The solution: Be authentic - show your true personality!
Accept that you are an individual that can not satisfy everyone around you. Be honest and sincere. It is important that you respect to yourself. Accept your feelings and fears, manage them and put them aside gently. Handling fears properly is not in contradiction with being authentic. In the next step you can respect others. The only important required precondition is that your main intention is a respectfully coexistence with the world around you. It happens that even with the noblest attitude others might feel offended. It is their job to be honest and sincere to tell you. Then you can think about and discuss to get (new) convictions leading to a change towards a more adequate and more integrated personality.


The benefit of planning

The problem: A lot to do and no time.
Sometimes we wonder how people could survive in former times. They had to do a lot manually and a lot of things were nearly not automated. In our life everything gets faster and more complex as well. And sometimes we either do not know how it happened that we finished under this big amount of things need to be done.

The reason: Competition
With the intention to be competitive companies are optimizing in the way that staff is reduced and the remaining people have to complete more tasks. Again to be more competitive companies want to improve quality and increase the amount of provided services. Because of the costs no company wants to have their machines (and employees) standing still and therefore are very carefully in hiring new workers.

The solution: Efficient time planning
Everybody has the same amount of time available. This is bad because it means that you cannot gain more time than others. But it is also good because others cannot gain more time than you. The important thing is what you make out of your time. This means that the key is the efficient use of your time. It is necessary to make decisions - when there is not enough time for everything to be done that you desire to do then some goals have to be dropped for the favour of others.

The very most important thing is: Whatever you want to do - put it on your calender (with the estimated duration). If you don't schedule a day where you will actually do the task then when will you do it? Because of this I dropped my To-Do-Lists. I have a calendar. Everything I want to do is scheduled. If it is not scheduled it is not enough important. When priorities change I might change my scheduled tasks but I am always aware of the time limits because I see the days and every task has a duration and so occupies more or less hours of the day.

When I put a task on the To-Do-List I was used to write a short description but I did think only few about the duration and even less about the actual day or week when I will do it. So it happened that I thought of ideas I later discovered that there will never be time for it.

When working with a calendar you have to think about the actual time when to do it and the duration. When thinking about the time budget necessary it means that you think about the required effort and costs. While you are thinking about this you are analysing the task or project and here you are in the middle of the planning. Analysis is an important part in every project because it is very important to find out even the value, benefit and priority of the project.

When there are new projects or new ideas companies need more workers and even for doing there in-the-line-tasks they need a specific amount of workers to get out the results in a sufficient quality. So doing more with less resources is mostly not really true. Sometimes the resources change (like doing things with a computer which was previously done by humans) but resource is resource. So companies can decide whether to offer an additional service or product or not and what resources to use. Managing resources to have them fit at the time when actually needed and managing projects to have everything ready when needed is a lot of planning work. But the benefit of planning is the same as the benefit of thinking before doing.

Without planning you run risks to
  • Don't have the required resources ready when needed
  • easily get stress because of "unexpected" occurrences
  • find out too late that the time for a task or project is not sufficient
  • ...
Related post: Analysis and therapy.


Quality of work

The problem: A lot of relatively easy tasks are often do not bring the results in the expected or desired quality.
It's the "human factor" - one of the reasons (apart from the costs) that drives companies to automate processes. The robot doesn't get distracted and works all day long with the same accuracy.

The reason: Attention and accuracy of people varies because of very dynamic event driven brain activity.
People get distracted by external and internal events that I like to compare with interrupts on a computer. But the difference is that a computer switches attention completely and does completely one thing or completely another thing. Humans can do one thing but pay (more) attention to something else. A further effect is that we often and easily forget things.

The solution: Get aware of changes in your attention, control your event filter, change your environment and support yourself with notes and checklists.
It is possible to get some control over the distractions. First step is to be attentive on what decreases your productivity most. Then you can change the environment (get to a less noisy place for example) but you can also adjust your sensitivity how you get aware of interrupting events (sometimes this is happening automatically - I for example do not hear the computer noise any more if I do not explicitely pay attention to it). Helpful for adjusting your event filter is for example to get conscious about the current priorities and make a clear decision about what you definitely want to do now and what is definitely not important. As our brain does not work perfect a big help is taking notes, creating checklists for common tasks, best practice documentation and so on.

The fear

The problem: People often fear a particular event or they are frightened in general and then while in panic mode they do unhealthy things.
Fear is a root problem for a lot of common occurring personal difficulties. People are driven a lot by fears with several drawbacks such as:
  • They act too fast and then make the situation even worse.
  • They do not feel free in their life.
  • They distrust everybody.
I always have seen fears as big barriers in life. When talking about this issue I sometimes got told that fears are good because otherwise you wouldn't pay the proper attention for example to not fall down when working on a scafffold in big height. I have thought a lot about it and I completely disagree with this statement of reason (and actually I cannot find other better reasons).

Fears narrow your senses. You focus on the only thing considered as important yet.

The reason: When fears grow up your senses are narrowed. This to point you to the most important thing now.
But you simple do miss a lot of information - including other potential solutions. Fears grow up when the situation is already escalating. This means that the fast solution weights more than the solution with the best quality.

The solution: Be open minded, get sensitive (not to mix up with sensible) to get aware of important situations in time.
Seeing a rising problem early takes away pressure and you still have more opportunities to address the issue, more time and less stress. You don't have to wait until the problem is urgent.

Related posts: The present moment, Plan to get fear done, Something more important, Primary motivator.


Find the root problem

The problem: There are too many problems to solve.
Trying to improve your life you might get aware of many things that should be improved, many barriers to be removed. You might feel exhausted even before starting improvements.

The reason: You get lost in a lot of detail problems.
In your life you face concrete situations and concrete things happen. You add emotions and thoughts to your experiences and try to get everything solved. But in a lot of cases several situations and experiences discover to have same reason, the same program that runs. For example if you get defensive and aggressive because somebody pointed out a mistake you made or when you have stage fright before talking to a lot of people - both could have the same underlying problem: Your fear losing your face, you fear of leaving a bad mark at the others. Just to give an example.

The solution: Dig for the root problem.
First thing is to get aware of what the hell happened. Try to write down your experiences and impressions in a very few sentences. Then ask yourself "Is this really what happened or do I already start to invent things in addition to that what really happened?". Compare with past experiences and try to find similarities. Then the magic word is "Why?". Ask you questions like "Why do I behave this way?" or "Why do I think in that particular way in such situations?" and so on. Analyze yourself to find patterns. But remember to stop adequately because there is a point where digging more does not bring you further and does not bring further effect. If you can identify a lot of problems belonging to the same underlying problem then investigating more and digging for the root gives greater results.


Serious life starts immediately

When I was a child I got told that I should be happy that I have all those spare time for playing. When I will go to school the serious life will start.

Similar I got told when I was a school boy. I got told that when I go to work then serious life will start.

Effectively today I don't remember any period in my life where I did not have serious problems.

When I look at my baby son I cannot tell him to be happy because he has nothing to do other than eating and sleeping. He in fact already has some serious problems:
  1. Make the parents understand when his nappy is full. This is a serious communication problem - not only for him - for us also. I am sure the baby likes to sit in his excrements as much as you do.
  2. Accept really big dependencies. Without the parents help he is definitely not able to survive.
  3. Having long phases of hiccups because he didn't figure out so far how to stop it.
Just to mention a few...

The problem: When managing children they often don't get well understood.
The effects are that complete generations of people do not understand each other and have problems in communication.

The reason: When the years pass by we easily forget about how we felt in our childhood as we begin to see life very differently as the years are passing by.

The solution: Develop and exercise empathy and see that every creature suffers from serious problems.
Try to remember your own childhood (maybe by looking into old diaries) and look through their eyes before telling a homily. Take into consideration that they might grow up in a completely different environment making completely different experiences as you did plenty of years ago. You should grow together with your children.

Finding the proper priorities

Lately, when my son was born, I remembered the words of my grandma she told me when I asked heir many years ago:
"What is the most important?"

She neither looked up from heir work (watering the flowers) nor paused to think. As it would be the simplest thing in the world she responded:
"The creatures".

The problem: We sometimes loose orientation.
It happens that we face a lot of possibilities for next actions or either we are overcharged that we don't see any single way to go. We simply feel a lack of signposts or guides how to proceed in our life.

The reason: We get a lot of impressions from the world , we produce so much emotion and we get distracted so much that covers the view to our goals.
The complexity of the world grows more and more and we feel an overflow from time to time. Technical progress of the human being has come to a point where you could study the existing knowledge for your whole life without finishing and without starting to do something productive. You could be a consumer for your whole life without starting to do something productive (assuming you have enough money ;-) ). And actually for being productive you have plenty of opportunities. In this situation we sometimes forget about the main goals and what is really important.

The solution: Get back to the roots of "human" being. Remember that life forms are a central part of this world.
To support the creatures - humans as well as animals or plants - in your environment to have a better life is good for those and good for you. Help your neighbour. Doing good to others is doing the best for you. If you make other people happy it does not mean that you get less happy. Happiness is not a resource that is distributed to the people - no - it doubles if you share it!
So when you loose orientation then something you can do is look around and do something good to the first creature you meet.
And here I remember that in Star Trek one of the major philosophies there is that the weal of many is more important than weal of less or the weal of a single person.

Related post: Between short and long term goals, The main purpose, The resource problem.