Michael Tougias, author of Fatal Forecast: An Incredible True Tale of Disaster and Survival at Sea, spent considerable time interviewing the survivors featured in his books. He learned that a certain mindset and set of techniques are not only useful in life-and-death situations, but also in the difficulties we face in day-to-day living. Whether it’s an overwhelming situation or a goal that seems unattainable, the following tips can help us all:
- Do not project past outcomes onto current situations. Our minds automatically size up a situation and compare it to something similar in our pasts. We then project the prior outcome onto the new situation, and determine that if we follow a similar course of action, everything will be fine. But every situation is different, and we must force ourselves to consider each important event on its own merits. There may be a variable that dictates a course of action that could save your life.
- Adrenaline can be an enemy. When adrenaline kicks in, it often prompts us to take quick action. We must fight that urge and instead pause. Often, the simple act of pausing gives us time to think of several options, rather than leaping into action.
- Sticking to “the plan” can get you killed. So many people force a situation to meet their plan or their schedule, and end up being killed or hurt by that thinking. It’s better to let the situation form the plan, even if that might mean abandoning a schedule entirely and trying again on down the road.
- Suspend the past and future and instead do “the next right thing.” One survivor trait that surfaces time and time again is that true survivors do not waste time thinking about how they got into such a position or who to blame. Nor do they waste time thinking about the distant future, which can lead to the “what’s the use” syndrome. Instead they look at what they need to do at the moment to move them one step closer to their goal.
- The power of little steps is the way to go. Even the smallest bit of action can get the ball rolling toward fulfillment. Noteworthy accomplishments are rarely gained without behind-the-scenes preparation that might feel insignificant at the time, but taken together with other little steps, sends you toward your goal.
- When given the option, choose a decision that is reversible. True survivors are not afraid to make U-turns. They never say “I’ve put so much time into this, I might as well keep going.” Instead, they take a cold look at their decisions and are not afraid to make modifications according to the situation unfolding before them.
- Celebrate the little achievements. Every true survivor takes the time to acknowledge the little victories. They give themselves pats on the back. We should do the same in our own lives, and abolish the detrimental thinking that says “I’ll … when …” Enjoy the challenge of the process, not just the outcome.