The Art of Stepping Back From Your Problems

In 2011 I achieved the dream of being a stay-at-home single mother for my daughter. I had managed to build a successful writing business that supported us for several years.

Then Life happened and the Internet changed. I saw my book royalties dropping and couldn’t think of a way to fix it due to the panic I felt since it was my only source of income.

Fortunately, by then my daughter was almost an adult. Rather than continue to stress over the issue I went job hunting.

A lot of people believe that I gave up when I made that decision. They took my actions as a sign of surrender and proof that a life of financial freedom was impossible for the average person to attain.

But I wasn’t giving up. Instead, I was stepping back from a situation that was causing me an immense amount of stress. Instead of surrender, I performed a strategic retreat in order to regroup.

I’ve done a lot of thinking since I made that decision. At first I was depressed. I felt like a failure in my own mind. I had achieved what I consider to be the ultimate success and I’d lost it.

I rode out the depression, pulled up my big-girl panties, and started brainstorming. Where had I gone wrong? I asked myself repeatedly.

I realized one of my mistakes rather quickly. In my determination to spend as much time with my daughter as possible I’d jumped a bit too soon. While I had a bit of savings it wasn’t enough to sustain us during the ebbs and flows of Internet commerce.

My second mistake was violating one of my major rules. Years ago I’d learned to always have a backup plan in place on mission-critical items. That was why I had started my computer repair business decades ago and had worked multiple jobs for years. It’s always best to have a backup income source in place just in case your primary income disappears.

I didn’t know how to fix that mistake without maintaining a public job or creating another business so I began to read on the subjects of business, success, and finance extensively. I realized that I could create another passive income stream through investing in dividend stocks and immediately got started. In the time since I’ve funneled every penny from my writing business (my book royalties are actually growing again—thank you!) as well as the leftover funds from my public job into the project. In fact, just the other day I invested enough to take me $45 closer to my passive income goals.

I only need $16.67 a day to maintain my simple lifestyle so I am now two-and-a-half days closer to my target.

Had I not stepped back from the problem I would have never been able to clear my head enough to search for solutions. I would be desperately trying to make ends meet on an income stream so low that even I have no desire to tackle it; so frightened that I couldn’t sleep at night, much less figure out how to fix it.

The Art of Stepping Back from your problems isn’t just reserved for crazy old women like me who want to escape the Rat Race of Wage Slavery. It can be used to solve any problem. It is almost impossible to come up with creative solutions when you’re neck-deep in a stinky situation. Only by stepping out of the mess can we think to grab a shovel and start to scoop it away.

How to Step Back From Your Problems

If the problem is with a relationship, take a few days to distance yourself from that person. Tell them that your Great-Auntie-So-and-So desperately needs her whatsit fixed so you need to go to her house for a few days. Tell them that you have to pick up extra hours at your day job. Tell them that you forgot to pay the bill on your cellphone. Tell them something believable that will allow you to take a few days away from them to clear your head and think.

Yes, I’m telling you to lie if you have to. They wouldn’t understand if you told them the truth so I don’t suggest even trying.

You may decide that part of the problem is you, work out a way to resolve it and then return to them a better person after the sabbatical. Or perhaps you’ll realize that your life is better off without them in it. Whatever you decide, take the time away to form a game plan and then execute it.

If the problem is with your finances figure out some way to make sure the essential bills are paid so that you can breathe again. You may have to move in with a relative or a friend for a time but that’s okay. It’s not forever; it’s just until you clear your head and work out a line of attack. If that’s not an option, you may have to bite the bullet (like I did) and take another job while you figure things out. You may do like a friend of mine did. She used her last penny to rent a truck and relocate to another state for a fresh start. She stayed with me until she got her first paycheck and then rented her own place.

If the problem is with your health, take a small sabbatical away from the ones who are telling you horrible things (don’t do this in a medical emergency, of course). You may not be able to escape your failing body but you can escape the Doom-Sayers for a time. I include family and friends in this as much if not more than I do the medical community. It’s hard to think straight when everyone around you is freaking out, especially when you feel bad. Relax, take a deep breath, consider your options, and form a game plan.

If the problem is so overwhelming that it seems to encompass the entirety of your life, leave it for a time. Pack a bag and take a trip somewhere. Camp in the woods, sleep in your car—do whatever it takes to bring a bit of distance between you and your life. Even a few hours spent alone in the park can help immensely.

I’m not advising you to run from your problems. Instead, I recommend that you simply step back from them for a short time in order to clear your head. Allow yourself some breathing room so that your mind can recharge and come up with some solutions.

By stepping back from my personal situations I gained a clarity that would have been impossible to achieve otherwise. I not only devised a game plan to re-acquire my financial freedom, I worked out a way to resolve a lingering health issue I’d not had the courage to face for almost a decade.

Today I would like you to target one problem in your life. What one thing is so overwhelming that you can’t think clearly about how to solve it? Select the problem and then step away from it.

Once you clear your head, share your solution in the comments and then share this post with a friend so they will hopefully be inspired to step back from a problem of their own. If you’re still struggling, leave a comment so that we can suggest options that you may not have considered.

Together we can accomplish anything.


2 thoughts on “The Art of Stepping Back From Your Problems”

  1. To quote the Annie…”pack a bag and take a trip somewhere”….I wholeheartedly agree.
    A road trip….a bus trip….or a really really really long walk away from your usual haunts.
    Does wonders for the soul.

    I have a weird theory about why this works so well…it’s kinda mystical….so bear with me.

    But I feel like when we stay in our comfort zone, the “spirits” of our status quo get “used to us” and they no longer
    do that thing that God’s Spirit does for us….which is light the way to better things.

    When we step away and go “elsewhere”…it seems to give God a signal that we need a new top up….and he usually obliges…..quietly and gently.A trickle…a sprinkle of grace….a new word that opens our minds to a new possibility….that perhaps was staring us right in the face for years…but for some reason we never were able to grasp it’s significance. Those trips are my lifeline to a fresh breath from the heavenlies.

    Thx Annie, for that gentle reminder.

    1. Your theory may be right, Carla. I do know from experience that it can be quite effective, even if I don’t understand the reason. Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

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