I think many of us who have smartphones have tried out the addictive touch screen game 'Unblock Me'. In this 2D game, there is one red block surrounded by a number of brown blocks in a box. The purposed of the game is to move the blocks around in order the free the red block from the box through a small opening in the side.
1. Look at what you CAN do.
For me, in this game, my first instinct is to look at the red block and say, "ok, this block is in my way I need to move it!". But then I realize there is a block blocking that block, and another blocking that block, and when I look at all of the blocks that are in the way it can look a litttle initmidating..
But then I stop and say, "ok, which blocks can I actually move". Once I start jiggling those around a bit, then I start getting somewhere.
This is a lot like life. We can look at the millions of obstacles in the way but that is discouraging. Let's start by looking at what we can do, that usually gets us somewhere.
2. Get rid of the clutter.
Ok, so once I start jiggling around some blocks, I start freeing up space. And in this game, that space is necessary, even if it is a small space. So then I focus on getting the blocks that I don't want, out of my way. That is when I can free up a path to get that red block out. Again, this is like life. Get all the useless stuff, useless activities, useless people, out of the way. Then you have more space to move around and get things done.
3. Focus on the end goal.
Now I am jiggling those blocks, freeing up space in this corner and the next, having a jolly good time, and then I realize, "oh yeah, that red block!" There have been a couple of times when I have played this game and I would actually open up a path for that red block to get out, but I am so busy moving blocks around that I don't even realize! So this is something else I have learned. Even while you are moving away the clutter, and looking at the things you can do, don't forget the end goal. You can keep getting rid of clutter from now til Timbiktu, but if you forget about the red block, then you are wasting your time.
4. Don't give up at the road blocks.
Now, there are times in this game when I am moving the blocks, I am on a roll, I know I am about to free up that red block and then... nothing. Another cockamamy (pardon my French) block is in the way!!! These are the times when I am tempted to just say 'forget this!' and leave the game (and many times I do) but more productively, I calm down and start from number 1. What can I do. I jiggle those blocks around get rid of some clutter and voila! The red block is free!! Something to remember in life. Yeah we get road blocks and get super frustrated! But just take a deep breath and look for the opportunities in the situation.
5. Practice makes perfect. ..or at least gets you in a groove.
Sometimes I can spend like half an hour just playing this game. And it is in that time that I solve the puzzles the fastest! Once I have solved a couple of puzzles, getting that red block out seems like second nature. Practice, practice, practice. A lot of the time we say practice makes perfect, but that may be a mis-statement, because even in my half hour streak I still get some road blocks. But doing puzzle after puzzle gets me in a groove where solving the puzzle is really easy and enjoyable.
6. Keep on keeping on.. And enjoy the small victories :)
The thing about this game is once you solve a puzzle, they throw another one right at you.. to seemingly no end! And this is like life. There will ALWAYS be another problem or challenge or block in the way, but like number 5. it gets a lot easier so just keep on keeping on. But remember to always celebrate each small victory, because to be honest, you've earned it!
So those are my little tidbits for today. They aren't anything new or revolutionary. I recently attended a 7 Habits of Highly Effective People workshop and the instructor said the same thing. These concepts are new. They have been around for centuries. And that's why we know they work. They are tried and true. But sometimes we just need a little reminder.. which we can get from the unlikliest of sources.. like Unblock Me. :)