Many years ago, my little brother and I got certified for SCUBA diving. SCUBA is an awesome sport, but it comes with lots of risk if you don’t following training.
Good SCUBA instructors drill a mantra into the heads of students that reminds them what to do if they ever get in trouble:
STOP – THINK – ACT
When you discover you are in trouble, stop doing whatever you are doing before you take the next action. Then, carefully consider your options. Once you’ve determined the best solution, act.
It’s important to do them in that order, of course. People who get injured or die in SCUBA accidents usually do all of these things, just in the wrong order. They panic first and try a whole bunch of actions immediately, they only take time to think when they are in even worse trouble, and then they stop – sometimes permanently.
While it’s unlikely you are reading this underwater, you may feel like you are doing everything possible right now just to keep your head above it. There is hope! People I know that keep themselves under control practice these three steps consistently:
A recent study by Right Management finds that only 1 in 5 people even bother anymore to stop and take a real lunch break. When I discuss “stopping” with clients, I’m often told that while they recognize the importance of it, there’s just not time right now.
It doesn’t matter how busy our days are or how overwhelming our professional and personal task list is right now. We all have time to stop. True, we might not have lots of time, but we can all halt the craziness of our schedules by taking 5 minutes to do nothing.
Make time today to stop – even if it’s just 5 minutes.
Stopping clears our minds and helps us consider what’s important. After you clear your head, ask yourself at least one of these questions:
- Am I really working on what is most important right now, or merely trying to knock things off lists so I feel a sense of accomplishment?
- What is something I’m doing that is best delegated to someone else?
- Do I know what my five most important priorities are this week?
- What’s one thing I can do for myself today?
- Am I taking care of my body right now?
- When’s the last time I asked someone for help with something?
- How much of what I’ve done today is really someone else’s job?
- Who is someone I’ve promised to connect with recently, but never did?
Honest answers here are starting points to take back control.
Based on your answers, take one action today to get more control. Or, plan 4-5 actions you need to complete this week to feel successful at the end. Then, get started. Consistent application will keep you in control.
Now, what’s a question you often ask yourself that you find helps you take back control? Share your answer in the comments below so we can all benefit.