5 ways to be prepared for life’s obstacles
When you’re juggling work, school and your personal life, planning for unexpected situations likely isn’t among your top priorities. But it pays to be ready for anything, says Kathryn Garcia, a licensed clinical social worker who teaches psychology courses at the University of Phoenix Sacramento Valley Campus.
Flexibility is the key to handling things like job loss and bereavement while still meeting your obligations, stresses Garcia, who holds a Master of Social Work degree. “Think about a rubber band,” she says. “You can stretch it really far, but it is the flexibility that allows it to snap right back.”
Here are five tips to help you deal with life’s obstacles:
Have a plan.
When times are good, think about how you’ll respond when life throws you a curveball, stresses Paul Fornell, MS, a licensed professional counselor and an instructor in the master’s in counseling program at the New Mexico Campus.
“Resilience comes from planning,” Fornell believes. “Your plan doesn’t have to be written down, but it should have enough information to guide you through [the unexpected].”
For example, Fornell suggests building in extra time when managing your school assignments. If you think it will take two hours to write a term paper, set aside at least four hours. “That way, you’ll still get your work done if your time gets taken up dealing with emergencies,” he explains.
Develop a support network.
Fornell also recommends making a list of resources you can call upon in an emergency — like your University academic advisor or support center, and your learning team. Family, friends and colleagues also can lend a hand.
“Think about who you know that could give you any kind of help — financial, emotional, child care, professional references — and build relationships with them,” Fornell says. “When your life is good, make yourself available to those who are down on their luck, and they’ll often return the favor.”
Ask for help.
A support network needs to be used, Garcia emphasizes, noting that her most successful students are those who know how to seek help.
“I had one student have a baby in the middle of the [school] term, and she only missed one class because she sought support,” Garcia says. Another student, she says, shut down completely after a death in the family and simply dropped out of school.
Take care of yourself.
You can’t manage crises if you’re unhealthy, says Leslie Baker, MA, a licensed marriage and family therapist who teaches in the master’s in counseling program at the Bay Area Campus. “Sleep well, eat well and exercise well,” she stresses. “You’ll feel better every day you do all three, and you’ll be [better] equipped to deal with whatever comes your way.”
Know what motivates you.
When you feel overwhelmed, Garcia recommends remembering what’s most important and using it as an incentive. “Is it your children? Is it money? Your desire to better yourself? Whatever gives you that sense of urgency,” she says, “articulate it so when that bad day comes, you’ve got something to grab onto.”