Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Burning the Candle at Both Ends: How NOT to Be Overwhelmed

Years ago, psychologists conducted a rather cruel test on preschoolers.  They left them in a room with one marshmallow and told them that if they could wait, they could have two marshmallows.  Then they left the room and never came back.  Peering through a one-way mirror, they watched and waited as the children squirmed and eventually ate the marshmallows.  They then recorded how long each child waited and, years later, correlated that score with overall success and coping skills in later life.

The results were clear:  kids who could wait did better in life.

Recently, this experiment has been resurrected and revised, and the results are...well, interesting.  As researchers are exploring causes for the inability to wait as well as coping strategies to allow a child to wait, the rest of us can use some of the lessons to help us approach overwhelming tasks as well.

  1. Keep the big goal in mind. (Plan backward.)
  2. Look away from distractions. (If something distracts you, block it out.)
  3. Connect with others.  (Find support.)
  4. Celebrate strengths.  (Buck up.)
  5. Carry on.  (Follow, adjust, and carry out your plan.)

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