When I went through my divorce in 2008, there were many days that I struggled. Like the day my soon-to-be-ex called to tell me that he was going to take his own life.
Because I worked in law enforcement at the time, this meant that it was my friends who were responding to the scene. Minutes felt like hours, until I finally received word that he was okay and they were taking him for some much-needed help.
The day my divorce was finalized was another. Not only is it emotionally draining to tell a courtroom full of people why your marriage didn’t work — “irreconcilable differences,” I said — but shortly thereafter I received a call from my new ex telling me he put down one of my dogs.
Really?? I thought. How much can a girl take??
It was one of these kind of days when I was talking to a friend, an officer assigned to the courthouse, in the hallway behind circuit court. I poured out my heart, sharing how I was struggling to continue to put one foot in front of the next.
Emotionally, I was drained. Physically, I felt like I’d been over by a truck. After listening intently, my friend put his hand on my shoulder in his fatherly way, and gave me the best advice I ever received.
He said, “Just take it one day at a time. When that’s too much, take it one hour at a time. And when that feels like too much, take it one minute at a time. Continue to break it down until life feels easier to take.“
I have used this philosophy many times in the decade since. Any time I feel overwhelmed and like life is too heavy, I find a way to break it down into more manageable pieces. I dissect whatever is bothering me until I reach a point where I am able to regain control once again.
This has helped me through difficult times, but it has also been a critical part of creating a successful writing business. Instead of feeling like I can’t keep up with the marketing, bookkeeping, and every other action necessary to running my own company, I compartmentalize. I focus on one thing at a time before moving on to the next.
Breaking things down has also helped me achieve some of my personal goals, like losing weight. At my highest, I weighed almost 170 pounds. Now I’m down to around 140. While it isn’t always easy to eat healthily and exercise, I know that everything I do either takes me one step closer to my goal of 125-130 pounds or it takes me one step further away. Taking it one decision at a time makes it easier to make the better choice.
If you’re struggling today, I encourage you to take whatever is bothering you and break it down. Remember that a mountain is nothing more than a bunch of pebbles bound together. The more you separate these pebbles, the smaller the mountain becomes.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? How has this advice helped you live a better life? I’d love to know, so feel free to share in the comment section below! Be sure to subscribe to Building Your Grit before you go!