Have you ever thought about your brain and body’s reactions to things as opportunities? Think about how you react to stress. Maybe you immediately lash out at others or yourself. Maybe you stop doing the things that you know you need to do to take care of yourself. We’ve all been there. But when was the last time you looked at these cues that something is off as anything more than an annoyance? No one likes to feel disappointed or frustrated, but what if you looked at those feelings as a much-needed reminder to readjust things until we feel OK again?
Take work, for example. And this can mean any type of work — not necessarily a 9-to-5 desk job. Maybe there’s a particular project you just can’t crack. You’ve tried and tried and tried, and you’re just about at your breaking point. You consider throwing in the towel altogether. Maybe you do. But what if instead of using your desire to quit as a sign that you should, you used it as a second to pause and evaluate things a little more? This doesn’t necessarily mean that you push forward blindly and full-steam ahead, particularly if the project or task is negatively affecting your mental health or well-being. It does mean, however, that you take a moment. You take a breath.
You take a few minutes to look at everything again. Is there an angle you haven’t explored? Is there a method of tackling the problem that you’ve ignored altogether? Is there someone else who you can delegate the task to that will be able to complete it in a way that will be ultimately helpful to you? Frustration isn’t the end of a problem. It’s a signal that you need to take a breath and look at the problem with fresh eyes.
A lot of times a breakthrough at work or on a project is looked at as a straight-forward solution. Sometimes it’s a little more complex than that, though. Sometimes the solution is tackling a different problem altogether, or giving the problem to someone else to deal with while you work on something more important. This doesn’t mean you’re giving up. It means you’re listening to your brain’s response to issues and going forward with your life in a way that’s productive. This is all you can ask of yourself in any situation in life, and that includes work.
So next time you’re faced with a problem and you find yourself wanting to throw it away altogether, simply take a second. Your frustration is an opportunity to reassess things. To give yourself a little time and space and clarity that work doesn’t often provide, and come back to the problem with a new plan. This doesn’t mean you’ll never get frustrated again or you’ll never want to give up again, but it does mean that you’ll start to view frustration positively instead of negatively. And that’s inherently valuable, no matter what your line of work.