Last week, many parts of the U.S. had extremely cold temperatures. Where I live in East, Tennessee, it was bitter cold with temperatures reaching below zero. Unfortunately, for many, including my family, that meant frozen pipes. As fate would have it, I didn’t find out that some of the pipes leaked until the temperature warmed up. Life without water makes everyday living inconvenient. Because the pipes had been frozen for a few days, we had a mountain of dirty laundry that needed attention. The water problem needed to be quickly fixed. I reasoned that a lot of people would be experiencing plumbing problems and that scheduling a plumber quickly might prove challenging on a Monday after a week of record lows. I replayed possible scenarios in my mind. I didn’t like any of the alternatives.

Even though I am not particularly skilled at plumbing repairs, I began thinking about attempting the repair myself. I really dreaded it because of the location of the pipes – in a very difficult to reach location under the house. I thought of a lot of excuses. I had an extremely negative internal dialogue going on in my head. I procrastinated big time! After a lot of negative reflection, I decided to act. First, I watched some videos on YouTube on repairing plumbing leaks. Then I went to Home Depot to gather everything I could think of that might be needed to fix the leaky pipes. Finally, I consulted a friend who can fix anything. I ventured under the house to the area where the leak was located and assessed the situation. While it wasn’t particularly enjoyable, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had played repeatedly in my mind. It wasn’t as cold as I had imagined. It wasn’t as wet I thought it would be and getting to the broken pipes took less effort that I figured. The repair even looked doable – IF the right tools were available. However, even with the right tools, the repair would have had to be made while I was on my back, in an extremely cramped location that was surrounded by other pipes and even some electrical wiring. My knowledge and tools were limited and as much as I wanted water for my family, I decided to call a professional.

Sometimes we face situations in our lives that make us imagine the worst. We replay them repeatedly in our minds making the problem worse than it really might be. Then we procrastinate over taking any action delaying a possible solution while we fret.

While it’s important to take time to think about a difficulty we are facing, pondering too long can become paralyzing – delaying potential solutions. The steps that I took to try to solve my plumbing problem could also be used in a variety of professional or even personal situations.

  • Decide to act. Just deciding to proactively begin ends the wasted time of negative reflection and thinking.
  • Educate yourself. While it doesn’t solve every problem, education can help you solve some problems. Even if you can’t solve them, you might gain some necessary information to help prevent the problems from happening in the future.
  • Consider all your available tools and resources. What tools do have available? What tools or skills do you need? Who do you know who has skills or resources you may not possess?
  • Know when to engage a professional. If you clearly don’t have the expertise or tools it’s perfectly fine to hire someone who does.

Remember, you can’t solve every problem you face in your work or personal life by yourself. There’s no reason to feel like a failure if you seek the advice and counsel of someone with more skills, experience, and knowledge.

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