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How to deal with a problem that seems impossible

The basement is a mess

Did you notice I said the problem seems impossible? Most problems are not impossible. I thought I would never be able to clean my basement.

The basement is clean now. Would you like to come over and play ping-pong?  Joola, the ping-pong table stopped crying. She had been buried behind a cow. The cow moved,  the basement is clean and Joola, the ping-pong table is set up.

Are you putting off something? Stop delaying and do what is hard.

I don’t know what you are not doing. It could be making an appointment with the doctor, or cleaning out the horse stalls. You might have to tell your boss you need next Friday off.

When I finally cleaned the basement, it only took me three days. The basement project had become a monster in my mind. Every time I tried to clean it, I would walk downstairs, look at the mess and then leave. I would take a bath, eat a bowl of cereal, or check my e-mail. I would do anything to avoid cleaning the basement.

I felt powerless to clean up the mess.

My husband asked me, “When you finally clean the basement what are you going to write about?”

Why was it so hard to clean the basement? Why did I keep putting it off?

I believed I was incapable of cleaning the basement. I had to change how I thought. I had to think, “I can clean the basement. I can decide what to keep and what not to keep.”

How to deal with a problem that seems impossible

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.
Henry Ford

1. Believe you can do it.
Say to yourself, “I can do this. I can call the doctor. I can clean out my refrigerator. I can get dressed and go for a walk.”

2. Then do it.
Start today. If your sink is full of dirty dishes because you have eaten off every plate in your house, just start with by cleaning one dish. If your basement is a mess, just pick up one item and put it away. If you are writing a book but you haven’t started yet, just write one sentence. If you have to call the doctor, pick up the phone and make an appointment.

3. Don’t quit.
Keep working on your problem. A little bit each day and eventually the dishes will be washed, your refrigerator will be clean and your book will be written.


No concept is so difficult that it can not be conquered by the repeated attacks of an ordinary mind.
Dr. Morrison Hodges


The basement is clean

Is there something you are working on now that seems impossible?

Please let me know in the comments. I would love to encourage you. And, would you like to play ping-pong?

P.S.  Dr. Morrison Hodges is my father-in-law. He is a smart man. I am not related to Henry Ford.

About Pamela Hodges

My name is Pamela Hodges. I am a writer and an artist. I write to encourage and to bring laughter. I paint cats, draw cartoons and write books for children and grown ups.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

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Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

  • Pingback: Bad habits creep back when you aren’t looking, or, what happened to my basement?()

  • Loved it. Today I compiled a large group of my poetry. It was a huge job. I was tempted to get discouraged when I realized I could not print it up the way I had set it up, as a 6×9 size. Instead of getting upset, I am thankful I got all the organization done. I am happy with all that will be in the book. I am watching what I tell myself.

  • nancy Hatcher

    I’m going to get right on cleaning those horse stalls. Pamela, you just have the most creative mind and give great advice. I hate those places that keep on getting messy over and over again like the sink and my office…dog gone it…I’m not happy sitting in it again. xo

  • I’m writing keynotes (http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/2013/05/14/preparing-a-keynote/) so your advice is timely! Thanks Pamela. (BTW: My basement is a mess. We’ve lived in our house for almost four years and there are still loads of boxes downstairs!)

  • Shelley

    He needs his own showcase. I missed him.

  • Shelley

    You’re my hero, Pamela Hodges. I can always look to you for encouragement and a way to conquer villians in my mind. Look at how proud Batman and Superman are of you.

  • Congratulations on a job well done!

  • 1) Your husband is so funny. 2) I have to transfer all of the data at my workplace to a new database and it is extremely intimidating. It seems impossible. I am afraid I will break it.

    Thank you for your kind invitation to play ping pong, I will sit on the sidelines and cheer for the players.

    • Kathleen, I can’t imagine you not being able to conquer anything you set your mind to. However, I am also intimidated by computers.