If you're fortunate, you have people in your personal and professional life who might be able to get you out of a jam. But as any experienced leader is going to tell you, there are going to be times when, for a host of reasons, you essentially have to go it alone and be the one who finds a fix to the problem at hand. No matter what the challenge might happen to be, here's how to stand face to the wind and conquer.
1. Unlock your biases.
Most of the time, if we see something as "too big" or "impossible", it's because we've learned something limiting (e.g., you're not rich, smart, or talented enough, the "system" makes you invisible, etc.). Ask yourself why the idea of the challenge makes you uncomfortable and come to terms with why you believe what you do. Then consciously combat the beliefs you want to discard that you recognize are holding you back. The only way to do this is through constantly reaffirming your new truth to yourself, as you have to physically construct new pathways of thinking in the brain.
2. Ask yourself why not me, rather than why me.
Large problems easily fall prey to the bystander effect--we think that someone else can and will handle the situation, so we don't try to do anything ourselves to help. But as you confront your biases, don't ask "Why do I have to?" Ask "Why shouldn't I?" Admit your limitations and address them, yes, but unapologetically identify everything that makes you uniquely qualified to get the job done, too.
3. Reframe the problem as an opportunity.
This doesn't necessarily mean that the task ahead isn't an enormous amount of difficult work. But reframing in this way allows you to focus on the positive elements you'll be left with after the process is over. That can make the work seem more worthwhile and, subsequently, less stressful.
4. Accept that you'll have to break habits and routines.
One of the biggest barriers to stepping up is getting wrapped up in the idea that you have to work within the box you're in. But babysitters, schools, shifts, even how you eat--it all is flexible. Look at your habits and routines and, instead of seeing them as fixed, ask yourself what you need to do something different.
5. Ask yourself what's possible to do immediately.
People often say they can't with a challenge because they don't feel like they can tackle everything that has to be done in the future. Instead of focusing on everything that's upcoming, just hone in on the one thing you can do right now, in this moment, regardless of whether that job is tiny or large. Taking even a small action in your present can give you the feeling of empowerment that can carry you to the next step.
6. Identify what's at stake if you don't act.
For better or worse, inaction always has a consequence. Clearly identify what both the positive and negative ramifications of doing nothing are. Turn your fear of loss into an advantage and let it motivate you, along with whatever you believe you'll gain, to have courage.
7. Think about your morals and sense of identity.
Related to the above point, inaction sometimes means that we compromise our fundamental morals and give up a piece of who we are. Tell yourself that the maintenance of ethics and your integrity matter.
8. Surround yourself with advisors and supporters.
They aren't necessarily going to be able to bail you out. But when the going's tough, they can give you advice and support that enables you to stand firm. They also can keep you from feeling isolated, which is essential for maintaining the optimism you need to stick with it.
9. Focus on forward progress, rather than how far you have to go.
If a challenge has many steps and can't be completed quickly, it can be difficult to see that you're making any difference or headway. Rather than always comparing where you're at to the end goal, just ask yourself if you're further ahead today than you were yesterday. If the answer consistently is yes, then you can remind yourself that slow and steady will win the race.
10. Come up with a recovery strategy.
A challenge takes waaaaay more effort than downing fudge brownie ice cream. (Bummer, I know.) You're not going to be able to go full steam 100 percent of the time. Figure out how you're going to recharge and when you'll take breaks before you even start. With that plan and set of resources in place, it's easier to give your best because you can see a place to rest ahead and can anticipate it as a reward for your work.