When I Start to Get Overwhelmed With Work, I Look at This Postcard of Earth One founder shares what helps her keep things in perspective.
Early in my career, I was easily overwhelmed. I overextended myself, and soon my responsibilities and commitments and ambitions piled up into this mass that felt unfathomably large — until, one day, my manager gave me something that is still on the bulletin board over my desk 26 years later, even as I've now transformed my career: It's a postcard picture of Earth.
I worked in federal contracting at the time, and my manager gave it to me for perspective. He wanted me to look at Earth and think about the significance of what I was trying to accomplish, and the stress I was feeling, and to do so in the context of what others around the world faced. I started to do this during late nights in my office, when I hadn't seen my family in days, as I lived on caffeine and cheese nabs. I imagined the good happening to people around the globe. I also imagined the bad — people starving, enduring war, or losing their homes — and then weighed my situation. I would say a prayer for them, and I would remember that my time on Earth was limited.