stop diggingAmerican business magnate Warren Buffet shares some profound advice about how to get unstuck in life: “The most important thing to do if you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging.”

Stop digging? But doesn’t a little extra muscle help lift you out of your stagnant circumstances? Doesn’t trying a little harder move you forward? Not necessarily.

Sometimes the harder we try, the more frustrated we become. Sometimes digging and digging simply results in a deeper hole without a smooth escape. Warren, the Sage of Omaha, is right. Despite our instincts to work our way out of a hole, it’s important to stop and get our bearings. Often, it is best to put down our shovel and either climb out of the hole we’ve dug or ask for a helping hand to get out.

Putting Down Your Shovel

By nature, I’m more of a try-harder, dig-deeper kind of gal. I don’t list stubborn on my list of admirable qualities, but sometimes I do let my determination and drive get the best of me. Gee, on some days, I feel like I need to rent a backhoe and go to town on excavating my problems myself. You know, add some extra oomph to get things down with faster speed and greater torque. But then I find that I leave a wake of spin-off problems because I didn’t wait to think things through more thoroughly.

What about you? When do you find it most challenging to put down your shovel? What trips you up in wanting to bring it a backhoe . . . NOW?

Is it when the kids are sick and whiny? When you are sick and whiny? When the bills are stacking up and the bank account is running bare? When you are tired of waiting and want to see progress immediately?

The Holes We Dig

It never ceases to amaze me the types of holes we humans can create. Some of us dig an assortment of holes: overworking, crash dieting, overspending, complaining, skipping sleep and rest, criticizing, and on and on. But what if we applied Warren’s advice and instead of digging ourselves deeper in a hole, we dig deep inside ourselves . . . and stop?

Yep, we pause long enough to breathe again. Long enough to recalibrate our sense of direction and purpose. I’m game, if you are.

With our shovels at rest, we’ll have more time to wisely evaluate at our situation and even apply the advice of Hosea, a Sage of Israel, “it’s time to dig in with God” (Hosea 10:12, The Message). When we’re in a hole, fresh perspective from above helps us see the light of day.

So what does getting out of a hole look like for you these days? For me, I’m putting down my shovel and canceling that order on the backhoe. I’m also parking it for a few minutes with a iced decaf latte. I’ll blend in some prayer and let go of my own hole-digging plans.

If you wanna come join me, I’ll fix you a cool one, too, and we’ll give both our shovels a rest.